The Front Row View: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man. 


Clint Eastwood is the Coolest Man in Movies. He was never an actor with a lot of range, but with what he could do, no one could touch him. His screen presence was made up of a mix of strange charisma, gruffness and world-weary humor. His lean frame and graceful movements were assets to many a western or action movie. Few films served him better than Sergio Leone’s seminal 1968 western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Leone was a master of the mythic, and he filled this epic with his peerless blend of gunfighter deities (Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, one of the screens best bad guys), mangy outlaws (Eli Wallach, a well-respected method actor who grabs this role in his teeth and shakes it), gorgeous, stylish photography (Leone only made epics) and music, courtesy of the great Ennio Morricone, that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up every time. Too many classic sequences to mention all of them, but I’ll note a few. The opening title sequence with Morricone’s iconic theme music. Eastwood’s first appearance with his back to us, then a cut to his front as he tilts his head up, finally revealing his face. Eastwood and Wallach’s excruciating trek across the desert. At the climax, Wallach’s odd tip-toed run through a graveyard that looks to be the size of 10 football fields, with Morricone’s composition “The Ecstasy of Gold” thundering on the soundtrack. And the final standoff between the three gunmen, with Leone s-t-t-t-r-r-r-e-e-t-t-c-c-h-h-ing the suspense as to who’ll draw first. The movie looks great on the Blu-ray that was recently released, but in any format Leone’s movie-making brio and Eastwood’s star power shine through.


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