The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italian: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is a 1966 Italian/Spanish epic spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles. The screenplay was written by Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni and Leone, based on a story by Vincenzoni and Leone. Director of photography Tonino Delli Colli, was responsible for the film's sweeping widescreen cinematography and Ennio Morricone composed the famous film score, including its main theme. It is the third and final film in the Dollars Trilogy following A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965). The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles, and prison camps.
In a desolate ghost town during the American Civil War, bandit Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez ("The Ugly," Eli Wallach) narrowly shoots his way past three bounty hunters to freedom, killing two but only badly wounding the third. Miles away, Angel Eyes ("The Bad," Lee Van Cleef) interrogates a former soldier called Stevens (Antonio Casas) about a missing man named Jackson who has taken on the name "Bill Carson" (Antonio Casale) and a cache of stolen Confederate gold. He brutally guns down Stevens and his eldest son after the interrogation, but not before Stevens pays Angel Eyes to kill Angel Eyes' employer, another former soldier named Baker. Angel Eyes later collects his fee for Stevens' killing from Baker, and then shoots and kills him too.
Meanwhile, during Tuco's flight across the desert he runs into a group of bounty hunters who prepare to capture him when they are approached by Blondie ("The Good," Clint Eastwood), a mysterious lone gunman who challenges the hunters to the draw, which he wins with lightning speed. Initially elated, Tuco is enraged when Blondie delivers him up to the local authorities for the reward money of $2,000. Hours later, as Tuco awaits his execution, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco by shooting the execution rope; the two later meet to split the reward money, revealing their lucrative money-making scheme. After Tuco's bounty is raised to $3,000, the two repeat the process at another town before Blondie, weary of Tuco's incessant complaints about the dividing of the profits from their scheme, abandons him in the desert, keeping all of the money. A livid Tuco manages to make it to another town and rearm himself with a revolver.
Some time later, Tuco enlists three outlaws to come with him to kill Blondie. As the three men break into Blondie's room, Blondie shoots and kills all three of them, but to Blondie's surprise Tuco by climbing up through his back window and aims his gun at Blondie in the middle of a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops. As Tuco prepares to kill Blondie by fashioning a noose and forcing Blondie to put it around his neck, a cannonball hits the hotel and demolishes the room, allowing Blondie to escape.
Following a relentless search, Tuco captures Blondie using the same scheme with another partner (Tuco doesn't allow Blondie to shoot the rope this time and the unfortunate "Shorty" is hanged) and marches him across the harsh desert. When Blondie finally collapses from dehydration and heatstroke, Tuco prepares to kill him but pauses when a runaway Confederate carriage appears on the horizon heading their way. Inside, while looting the dead soldiers, Tuco discovers a dying Bill Carson, who reveals that $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sad Hill cemetery but falls unconscious before naming the grave. When Tuco returns with water, he discovers Carson dead and Blondie slumped against the carriage beside Carson's body. Before passing out, Blondie says that Carson told him the name on the grave. Tuco takes Blondie (both disguised as Confederate soldiers) to a Catholic mission run by Tuco's older brother, Father Pablo. Tuco nurses Blondie back to health, and the two leave, still disguised. They inadvertently encounter a force of Union soldiers (whom they take for Confederates due to thick coatings of grey dust on their uniforms). They are captured and marched to a Union prison camp.
At the camp, Corporal Wallace (Mario Brega) calls the roll. Tuco answers for B ill Carson, catching the attention of Angel Eyes, now disguised as a Union Sergeant stationed at the camp. Angel Eyes has Wallace viciously beat and torture Tuco into revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the location of the gold, but Tuco also confesses that only Blondie knows the name on the grave. Angel Eyes offers Blondie an equal partnership in recovering the gold. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his posse. Meanwhile, Tuco, chained to Corporal Wallace, is transported by train to his execution. During the trip, Tuco tells Wallace he has to urinate and distracts Wallace long enough to grab him and jump off the train, taking the Corporal with him. He then beats Wallace's head on a rock, killing him, and uses another train to cut their chain taking the dead Wallace with it, freeing him.
We next see Blondie, Angel Eyes and Angel Eyes' gang arriving in a town that's rapidly being evacuated due to heavy artillery fire. Tuco, wandering aimlessly through the wreckage of that same town, is oblivious of the bounty hunter that survived at the start of the movie (Al Mulock), who tracks and ambushes Tuco who is taking a bath in an abandoned building. Despite the surprise, Tuco shoots and kills the bounty hunter. Blondie investigates the gunshot, finding Tuco and informing him of Angel Eyes's involvement. The two resume their old partnership, stalking through the wrecked town and killing Angel Eyes' henchmen before discovering that Angel Eyes has escaped and left an insulting note for them.
Tuco and Blondie find their way to Sad Hill Cemetery, but it is blocked by large Union and Confederate forces who are separated only by a narrow bridge. Each side is preparing to fight for it, but apparently both sides have been ordered not to destroy the bridge. Reasoning that if the bridge were destroyed "these idiots would go somewhere else to fight", Blondie and Tuco wire the bridge with dynamite. During the process, the two trade information, Tuco revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the gold's location and Blondie saying that the name on the grave is Arch Stanton. The two then take cover as the bridge blows up and the two armies resume their battle. The next morning, the Confederate and Union soldiers have gone. Tuco abandons Blondie (who has stopped to tend to a dying young Confederate soldier) to retrieve the gold for himself at the cemetery. Frantically searching the sea of make-shift tombstones and grave markers, Tuco finally locates Arch Stanton's grave. As he digs, Blondie appears (now clad in his trademark poncho) and tosses him a shovel. A second later, the two are surprised by Angel Eyes, who holds them at gunpoint. Blondie kicks open Stanton's grave to reveal just a skeleton. Declaring that only he knows the real name of the grave, Blondie writes it on a rock in the middle of the graveyard and tells Tuco and Angel Eyes that "two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We're going to have to earn it."
The three stare each other down in the circular center of the cemetery, calculating alliances and dangers in a famous five-minute Mexican standoff before suddenly drawing. Blondie shoots Angel Eyes, who tries to shoot Blondie while he is down only to be shot by Blondie again and roll into an open grave, dead. Tuco also tries to shoot Angel Eyes, but discovers that Blondie had unloaded his gun the night before. Blondie directs Tuco to the grave marked "Unknown" next to Arch Stanton's. Tuco digs and is overjoyed to find bags of gold inside, but is shocked when he turns to Blondie and finds himself staring at a noose. Seeking a measure of revenge for what Tuco has done to him, Blondie forces Tuco to stand atop a tottery grave marker and fixes the noose around his neck, binding Tuco's hands before riding off with his share of the gold. As Tuco screams for mercy, Blondie's silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle at him. Blondie fires a single shot and severs the noose rope, just like old times, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold. Blondie smiles and rides off as Tuco, who has his gold but no horse, curses him in rage by shouting "Hey Blondie! You know what you are? Just a dirty sonofabitch!".
- Clint Eastwood as "Blondie" : The Good, a.k.a. the Man with No Name
- Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes : The Bad
- Eli Wallach as Tuco : The Ugly, Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez
- Aldo Giuffrè as Union Captain
- Luigi Pistilli as Father Pablo Ramírez
- Rada Rassimov as Maria
- Enzo Petito as Storekeeper
- Claudio Scarchilli as Pedro
- John Bartha as Sheriff
- Livio Lorenzon as Baker
- Antonio Casale as Jackson / Bill Carson
- Sandro Scarchilli as Chico
- Benito Stefanelli as Angel Eyes Gang Member
- Angelo Novi as Monk
- Antonio Casas as Stevens
- Aldo Sambrell as Angel Eyes Gang Member
- Al Mulock as Elam
- Sergio Mendizábal as blond bounty hunter
- Antonio Molino Rojo as Captain Harper
- Lorenzo Robledo as Clem
- Mario Brega as Cpl Wallace
- Chelo Alonso as Stevens' Wife
The score is composed by frequent Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone, whose distinctive original compositions, containing gunfire, whistling (by John O'Neill), and yodeling permeate the film. The main theme, resembling the howling of a coyote (which blends in with an actual coyote howl in the first shot after the opening credits), is a two-note melody that is a frequent motif, and is used for the three main characters. A different instrument was used for each: flute for Blondie, ocarina for Angel Eyes and human voices for Tuco. The score complements the film's American Civil War setting, containing the mournful ballad, "The Story of a Soldier", which is sung by prisoners as Tuco is being tortured by Angel Eyes. The film's climax, a three-way Mexican standoff, begins with the melody of "The Ecstasy of Gold" and is followed by "The Trio."
The main theme was a hit in 1968 with the soundtrack album on the charts for more than a year, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard pop album chart and No. 10 on the black album chart. The main theme was also a hit for Hugo Montenegro, whose rendition was a No. 2 Billboard pop single in 1968. In popular culture, the American New Wave group Wall of Voodoo performed a medley of Ennio Morricone's movie themes, including the theme for this movie. The only known recording of it is a live performance on The Index Masters. Punk rock band the Ramones played this song as the opening for their live album Loco Live as well as in concerts until their disbandment in 1996. The British heavy metal band Motörhead played the main theme as the overture music on the 1981 "No sleep 'til Hammersmith" tour. American thrash metal band Metallica has run "The Ecstasy of Gold" as prelude music at their concerts since 1985 (except between 1996–1998), and recently recorded a version of the instrumental for a compilation tribute to Morricone. XM Satellite Radio's The Opie & Anthony Show also open every show with "The Ecstasy of Gold". The American punk rock band The Vandals song "I want to be a Cowboy" begins with the main theme. A song from the band Gorillaz is named "Clint Eastwood", and features references to the actor, with the iconic yell featured in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's score heard at the beginning of the video. The film itself has been widely sampled: Punk band Big Audio Dynamite used an audio clip from the movie in its song "Medicine Show"; the audio was taken from the scene in which a judge, after reading a long list of criminal charges, sentences Tuco to be "hanged from the neck until dead." Also, the song "You Know What You Are" from the 1988 album The Land of Rape and Honey by industrial metal group Ministry repeats the song title (a portion of Tuco's final epithet at Blondie) as a background sample.
Special Edition DVD ReleaseEdit
In 2002, the film was restored with the 14 minutes of scenes cut for US release re-inserted into the film. Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach were brought back in to dub their characters' lines more than 35 years after the film's original release. Voice actor Simon Prescott substituted for Lee Van Cleef who had died in 1989. Other voice actors filled in for actors who had since died. In 2004, MGM released this version in a two-disc special edition DVD.
The following scenes were originally deleted by distributors from the British and American theatrical versions of the film, but were restored after the release of the 2004 Special Edition DVD.
- During his search for Bill Carson, Angel Eyes stumbles upon an embattled Confederate outpost after a massive artillery bombardment. Once there, after witnessing the wretched conditions of the survivors, he bribes a Confederate NCO for clues about Bill Carson.
- The sequence with Tuco and Blondie crossing the desert has been extended: Tuco mentally tortures a severely dehydrated Blondie by eating and drinking in front of him.
- Tuco, transporting a dehydrated Blondie, finds a Confederate camp whose occupants tell him that Brother Ramirez's monastery is nearby.
- Tuco and Blondie discuss their plans when departing in a wagon from Brother Ramirez's monastery.
- A scene where Blondie and Angel Eyes are resting by a creek when a man appears and Blondie shoots him. Angel Eyes asks the rest of his men to come out (all are hidden as well). When the five men come out, Blondie counts them (including Angel Eyes), and concludes that six is the perfect number. Angel Eyes asks him why, mentioning that he had heard that three was the perfect number. Blondie responds that six is the perfect number, because he has six bullets left in his revolver.
- The sequence with Tuco, Blondie and the Union Captain has been extended: the Captain asks the pair for their names, which they are reluctant to answer.
A scene deleted by Leone after the Rome premiere was also re-inserted:
- After being betrayed by Blondie, surviving the desert on his way to civilization and assembling a hybrid revolver from parts of various original makes, Tuco meets with members of his gang in a distant cave, where he conspires with them to hunt and kill Blondie.
Additional footage of the sequence where Tuco is tortured by Angel Eyes's henchman was discovered. The original negative of this footage was deemed too badly damaged to be used in the theatrical cut, but the footage appears as an extra in the 2004 DVD supplementary features.
Lost footage of the missing Socorro Sequence where Tuco continues his search for Blondie in a Texican pueblo while Blondie is in a hotel room with a Mexican woman is reconstructed with photos and unfinished snippets from the French trailer. Also, in the documentary "Reconstructing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," what looks to be footage of Tuco lighting cannons before the Ecstasy of Gold sequence appears briefly. None of these scenes or sequences appear in the 2004 re-release, however, but are in the supplementary features.
- A major mistake in the films original trailer was Tuco being portrayed as "the bad" and Angel Eyes as "the ugly". The reason for this slip was the original Italian title was "Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo," which translates to "The Good, The Ugly, and The Bad," so when it was time to release the film in the United States the Bad and the Ugly switched places in the title so it to sounded better. But the trailer was directly translated from Italian to English with the new US tittle thus mixing up the Bad and Ugly.
- It is rumoured that this film is a prequel to the other Dollars films.