182: Double Feature! For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

For a Few Dollars More (R) - 1965 - Runtime: 132 minutes
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef

Director: Sergio Leone

I made a point to watch the whole Dollars Trilogy by Leone after watching the first one and really enjoying it. I totally forgot to write a review on the second movie so I'm squeezing it in here! The second one is even better than the first. And even though Clint Eastwood remains a nameless badass in all three movies, he's not the same guy, nor are the movies a continuing story. Rather, the themes and character traits are all tied together in the trilogy, rather than the story.

In the second movie, Eastwood and Cleef team up as two bounty hunters who take out a ruthless gang of bandits, led by a man named Indio. They both have different motivations to get to the gang and the movie plays this out brilliantly. It's a very romantic notion of the west and leans more towards the idealistic west, rather than the reality of it all. The two bounty hunters are very much good guys and after a few showdowns between the two, their pairing was simply natural. I have to say - I loved Cleef's character and his motivation for hunting down Indio and his gang, which I won't reveal here. The action is awesome and the pacing is great - it's never too dull and Leone has perfected that slow swell to intense action.

Rating: Own It!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (R) - 1967 - Runtime: 161 minutes
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
Director: Sergio Leone

I loved the second one even more and thought the third would be the most badass of them all - it's the one people most remember and it's considered the best western of all time. I'd have to disagree. While the movie is particularly badass and awesome, I still don't think it even comes close to touching Leone's other epic, Once Upon a Time in the West. Nor is it the best movie in the trilogy.

Once again, Eastwood plays a no-name character, nicknamed Blondie (the Good) by one of the other characters. He comes upon a ruthless outlaw, Tucco (the Ugly), who he teams up with to outwit and outgun local townsfolk out of reward money. But there's a much bigger reward at stake - a heaping of gold buried in a remote cemetery. On their heels is another bounty hunter, Angel Eyes (the Bad), looking to stake his claim. I wouldn't consider this epic, but the music and the showdowns and everything in between says otherwise. The story itself is rather small, but the characters are big. I loved this movie, but I don't think I liked it as much as A Few Dollars More. There's some great things about the movie - particularly the soundtrack. It's so iconic and just plain awesome - I'm tempted to buy the album! The last scene is particularly resounding and just great - Leone knows how to build up tension and the cemetery showdown scene is the perfect one yet.

The flaws of the movie? Well, I guess I'm a romantic myself, because I didn't like that Blondie wasn't particularly a good character. He's just as ugly as Tucco and Angel Eyes - he's only after the money and he shows no sense of reproach or regrets in what he does. I guess that's more realistic and makes for a better characters study, but dammit, I want my westerns to be idealistic and black and white! Oh well - it's still a great western and I'm definitely going to be watching this one again!

Rating: Own It!

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