We have a tough time here reviewing classic cinema. When it comes to these films, despite how the rest of this reads, we truly do believe the creators of these films should be praised for leading the way, with new cinematic ideas, and creating new concepts from which future filmmakers have drawn upon. The problem is, that since their releases, those concepts have been picked up, examined, made better, made worse, made, then made again until they’ve become a cliché, a predictability, a bore. It’s difficult to like a film that's been done a thousand times, even if it was the first.
So here we find ourselves watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, a badly dubbed “spaghetti western” that takes its time telling the same old story. There's some gunslingers searching for gold in the old west and they’ll do anything to get it. Queue the many leathery skinned, unshaven, cowboy hat wearing men enjoying some long, drawn out staring contests, their fingers hovering just over the top of a just as leathery gun holster, holding a rusty old six-shooter with the accuracy of a well calibrated sniper rifle. Who will win? …… Spoiler alert…. The good guy.
None of this is helped by the film's excruciating two and a half hour run time, where it could be an action-packed, solid ninety minute film, instead it takes its time to look at the scenery, sometimes literally. For the first ten minutes of the film, there isn’t a word of dialogue. Three men walk into a saloon, shots are fired, all the attackers are dead and a man exits via the window for some reason. Here we meet “The Ugly”. A man with a list of crimes so long he has a three thousand dollar bounty on him.
We next meet “The Bad”, a gun for hire who always completes his contract. Even if that means killing the person who originally hired him, when he’s hired by the man who he's about to kill to kill the man that hired him, because you know, he’s “The Bad”. Luckily though, he does stop shooting the man's family long enough to catch wind of a rumour about some gold buried in a grave somewhere far away.
Lastly we meet “The Good” picking up the bounty on “The Ugly”. He’s a noble, heroic man bringing criminals and outlaws to justice and collecting their bounty. Only to set them free at the last moment, move on to another town, scam the next sheriff's department out of their cash and then leave their partner in crime in the desert to die. But all this “Goodness” doesn’t go unnoticed, because soon he’s being walked through the desert with no water and with no escape in sight. Luckily, he and his captor spot a suspicious wagon where they learn about some gold buried in a grave somewhere far away.
It’s here, one hour into the film, that the plot actually starts. Each of the three men know a piece of the puzzle of where the gold is buried and need each other to stay alive or it will be lost forever. From here onwards the film plays out with a good pace and good storytelling, the budget seems to skyrocket as extras and explosions fill the screen, but by this point our patience had ended and any breaks in action, as there should be, still felt like small eternities. Even the clever and sometimes surprising ways the characters lose and find each other over and over again isn’t enough to bring the film out of its first hour coma. The rest plays out exactly as you would expect and by the end “The Good” (who has the highest body-count in the end by the way) goes riding off into the sunset on his horse. But did he find the gold? ..…. Spoiler alert…. yes he did.