Blondie (Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (Eli Wallach) are gunmen who admire each other professionally but dislike each other personally. Encountering a group of dying soldiers, Tuco learns the location of the graveyard where a Confederate treasure is buried, while Blondie learns the identity of the exact grave. Joined by mercenary drifter Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), they cross the desert, each of the desperadoes knowing half the secret and each focusing his squinty eyes on the $200,000 bounty.
In a classic that puts style above substance, Italian director Sergio Leone uses vivid Cinemascope imagery to depict a bleak and bloody American West in this final installment of his collaboration with Clint Eastwood in the Man with No Name Trilogy. A prototype for the so-called Spaghetti Western genre, the film solidified Eastwood's position as a major international star with his stoic, brooding presence. Cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli's stunning visuals are a match for the vivacious Ennio Morricone score, one of the most recognizable in all of cinema. Although the film was not released in the United States until 1967, it was produced and released internationally in 1966.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY is actually a prequel to the other two Man with No Name films--A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. During the last part of the movie, Clint Eastwood's character acquires the poncho he wears in the other films. During the shooting of all three productions, the poncho was never cleaned or replaced.
Eastwood made $250,000 working on THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, a huge increase over the $50,000 salary for FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and the $15,000 paycheck for A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. By the time THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY was released in the United States, he was a full-blown star.
"...[A] wry portrait of monetary greed in which Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef one-up each other against a Civil War backdrop..." (USA Today)
"...Sergio Leone's sublime spaghetti Western remains the balls-out joyride it was 34 years ago..." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Leone took the western to a mythic pinnacle few could reach -- and few tried. But going back was no longer an option." (Premiere)
"[E]very element of Sergio Leone's 1967 classic is riveting..." (Rolling Stone)
"The third chapter in Sergio Leone's trilogy of Spanish-shot spaghetti westerns is the most ambitious..." (Uncut)
"Leone's movies were raw, crazy and brutal, yet, thanks to his keen eye, beautiful....This film is Leone's breeziest." (Empire)