mag·nif·i·cent/magˈnifəsənt/ (adj.)

1. Impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
2. Very good; excellent.

Synonyms: splendid - gorgeous - grand - superb - glorious

WARNING: Some spoilers may be bound but I try to keep them light.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966)

While pouring back through all the Tarantino films recently I realized a couple things:
1) There's not that many of them. I mean he's only one guy and he pretty much only works off of his own material that he wrote... which takes time, and thus this is very understandable.
2) His films make reference other movies constantly. Now call it what you want homage, reference or just plain theft but I'm thinking that a lot of people don't catch the majority of these references to other films because frankly, we don't have the film same exposure as a young Tarantino did going to the grindhouse theater constantly in his youth or working in a video rental store. However, hypothetically with the vastness of the internet and Amazon, Netflix etc. these films should be easier to get a hold of today, if you know what you're looking for that is.

So I figured there's probably more people out there, like me, who crave more Tarantino constantly and I could showcase some films that I'd consider essential viewing for Tarantino fans. And thus the 10 must-see films for Tarantino fans was born. Now let me warn you this is in no way a comprehensive list and there's no particular order to these either. There's probably hundreds of films that Tarantino references in his own films, and I found enough films I could write about to probably do this series again but that will have to wait until next time there's another big Tarantino release.

DAY 7: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is Quentin Tarantino's favorite film of all time and he even goes so far as to call it "the greatest achievement in the history of cinema." He's put tiny references to this film in his movies throughout his career: The memorable scene in Pulp Fiction (1994) where Samuel L. Jackson eats a guy's food to intimidate him before he kills him is lifted from the introduction of Angel Eyes in this film, the opening shot of Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) is a tribute to a shot in this film where Blondie is lying almost dead from dehydration in the desert and Tuco has his gun to his head (there's a screenshot comparison here thanks to The Quentin Tarantino Archives), and Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds (2009) picks a can of snuff off of a dead soldier and uses it just like Tuco does in this film. This film also is thought to have originated the Mexican standoff, which is one of Quentin Tarantino's film trademarks.

“Every gun makes its own tune.”

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo [The Good, the Ugly, the Bad] (1966) known in the U.S. as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is an Italian spaghetti western from director Sergio Leone. This film is the third in a loose trilogy known as The Dollars Trilogy along with A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965), however this film takes place during the American Civil War which would make this film a prequel to the other two. This film is about three men: The Man with No Name, known here as "Blondie"(the Good), Angel Eyes (the Bad), and Tuco (the Ugly) who are trying to out smart each other to get to a 200,000 dollar confederate treasure.

[This review is of the original full Italian version of the film which runs about 175 minutes long]

I really like how simple and straightforward the story is, this allows for a lot of time with the characters and lets them pull the story forward rather than random outside events. I also like how despite not liking each other and trying to lose each other Blondie and Tuco constantly find they have to team up together throughout the course of this film to accomplish their own goals, this adds a very interesting dynamic of mistrust and humor to the film.

This film has some pacing issues, probably the worst part is how lengthy the first half of the film feels. I think this is because the antagonist, Angel Eyes is absent from the film for a good hour before returning at about the halfway point, and also it's not until about 40+ minutes into the movie that you find out that there is a treasure!

This film is packed full of great ideas: I like how Tuco, straight out of being stranded in the desert, is able to hold up an old gun shop owner; I like how Tuco is able to track Blondie by puffing on his cigarillo butts to see how close he is; I like the torture scene while the Union army is playing music; and I love how this film is set during the American Civil War. The idea of three gunmen who could careless about the war going on in the background is such a great idea, it really sets this film apart from the other two. And the part near the end where Blondie and Tuco run into a drunken Union Captain who is just so sick of the war might be the greatest single part of this film.

I really like the characters in this film. This film even gives a little more of a backstory to the Man with No Name and really gives him all the coolest moments in the film. Lee Van Cleef returns in this film playing a different (but just as cool) character called Angel Eyes. I also like how Tuco works not only as the comic relief for the film but can be very villainous in his own right, the introduction of his brother, who he hadn't seen in 9 years, really adds a lot of depth to the character as well more so than most Mexican comic sidekick characters in these type of films.

Ennino Morricone also returns as the composer for this film and this score might be the best of the three films. It really adds a lot of emotion to the heartfelt scenes, excitement to the action and the very memorable theme will really get you whistling along with it.

And lastly (as usual) I really like Sergio Leone's direction in this film. The amazing cinematography combines with the great story in such a cool way. I love how much of this film is actually silent, the characters convey so much with minimal speaking parts and the English dub actually adds more unnecessary dialogue than the original Italian version does.

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly] (1966) is an epic spaghetti western film that may be the greatest Italian western ever made. Stylish, fun and cool this film isn't to be missed. 5/5 Stars.

Happy watching!

This film is part of my month-long Tribute to Tarantino in honor of his latest film Django Unchained (2012) and his 20-year career. If you've missed any of my reviews so far, be sure to check out his filmography and click on any film you've missed.

The 10 must-see films for Tarantino fans countdown continues tomorrow, so be sure to check back!

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