"Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We're gonna have to earn it."
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italian: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, literally "The Good One, the Ugly One, the Bad One"), released in 1966, is one of the Dollars Trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns that served as a Deconstructor Fleet to the entire Western genre. It is the last, and probably the most famous of the trilogy, and is credited with helping to kill the Western genre and inventing a bevy of new tropes (even popularizing the Mexican Standoff). It's had an incredible impact on nearly all films since then, and is generally regarded as one of the greatest films ever created.During the American Civil War, the bounty hunter "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood) and the bandit Tuco (Eli Wallach) are running a con game until the former decides to terminate their partnership and take the money. Tuco sets out for revenge. A mercenary, Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), finds out about a stolen cache of Confederate gold, and learns the name of the man who knows where it's hidden. Tuco and Blondie stumble upon this knowledge and the three gunslingers engage in a battle of betrayal across the war-torn landscape.Directed by Sergio Leone and with a soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone in one of his most memorable works.Somewhat ironically — given that the "Dollars" trilogy started with an unauthorized knockoff of Yojimbo — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly now has a Foreign Remake in The Good, the Bad, the Weird (which is Korean and moves the setting to Japanese-controlled Manchuria in the 1930s).
This film provides examples of :
Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: This is elaborated in the extended cut of the film, where all the soldiers in Union side of the bridge battle drink alcohol even as they fight with no satisfactory results.
Anti-Villain: Tuco. He confesses to his brother that he chose to be a bandit so he could support himself after living in poverty for so long.
Arc Words: "There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend..." Alternately said by Tuco and Blondie, and always with a different ending.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Tuco is charged with (among other things) murder, rape, bigamy, and playing with marked cards and loaded dice. It's possible that Tuco confessed to a number of crimes he didn't commit in order to raise his bounty. Among other charges, he has apparently robbed from both sides of the civil war.
Ax-Crazy: Angel Eyes is actually a subversion; he is more ruthless and evil than crazy, but still meets several traits of a true Ax-Crazy: he is The Dreaded, extremely sadistic and incredibly sociopathic. Even he is seen with a maniacal cackle when he kills his boss.
Beware the Quiet Ones: Blondie is every bit as violent and ruthless as Tuco and Angel Eyes, but he's much less flamboyant. He barely ever talks above a whisper, and he frequently confronts life-threatening situations without uttering a single word. Even when he's crawling through the desert, half-dead from sunburns and dehydration, he never once begs Tuco for his life.
The film starts and ends with Blondie saving Tuco from the noose. Of course, the "save" in the last part is debatable.
Also, the beginning and the end have the three main characters being labeled by onscreen text as "The Ugly", "The Bad", "and The Good," both times in that order.
Butt Monkey: Tuco. He doesn't catch a break the entire movie, and isn't successful for more than 20 onscreen minutes. Briefly, he does manage to drag Blondie around in the desert as punishment for deserting him (Blondie does win out in this case, when Bill Carson prevents Tuco from killing Blondie after telling Blondie the other half of the treasure's location). Examples of Tuco's misfortunes? He is nearly hung for his crimes on several occasions, taken prisoner by Union soldiers (after mistaking them for Confederates), catches a hell of a beating from Corporal Wallace, is thrown off a horse from a cannon blast, survives various explosions, is attacked while taking a bath in the buff, and at the end, after nearly being hanged by Blondie for all of the treachery inflicted on him earlier, he is left with his gold, but both hands tied behind his back and no horse to get back to town. Then again, Tuco is a greedy and conniving bandit who probably deserves most of what happens to him.
His hands were bound with thin twine which he could easily get out of in time, and Angel Eye's gun, horse, and provisions were nearby. Tuco would have no trouble getting out with the gold after Blondie has made good his escape.
Chekhov's Gunman: Subverted. One of the bounty hunters Tuco shot in his establishing moment loses his arm, spends his time off-screen learning how to shoot with his off hand and comes after Tuco for revenge. He is anticlimactically killed by Tuco while ranting about how much he is going to enjoy his revenge.
Distracted from Death: Bill Carson finally dies of thirst and exposure in the minute it takes Tuco to run to his horse and grab a canteen. In a subversion, while Tuco is distracted Blondie does come over and hears Carson say where he buried the gold.
Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted, Tuco and Blondie put on a Confederate uniform but it backfires when they encounter a soldier column. The column is initially identified as Confederate but it turns out they are from the Union army; the dust covering their attire made it look the opposite.
Tuco: God's on our side because he hates the yanks too! Blondie: God's not on our side because he hates idiots also.
Tuco: Is eating in a bar. A group of gunmen come in to kill him and he shoots them all before crashing out of a window, still eating his dinner. "Il brutto," or "The Ugly."
Angel Eyes: Has been hired to get information from a man. He enters his house, talks with him, refuses the man's counteroffer of more money if Angel Eyes leaves him alone and instead kills his boss, then shoots the man dead. His son comes downstairs and Angel Eyes kills him too. He then goes back to his boss, giving him the information, and then kills him — he took the first victim's money, and he always finishes the job once he's been paid. "Il cattivo," or "The Bad."
Blondie: Tracks down Tuco, kills several rival bounty hunters, and turns him in for a reward, then frees him so they can repeat the process several more times. When the jig is up he abandons Tuco in the desert and rides off with the money. "Il buono," or "The Good."
Exact Words: Utilized by Blondie in the movie's climax. All three main characters have reached Sad Hill cemetery, and they know that the treasure is buried in one of the graves... but only Blondie knows which one. With a standoff appearing inevitable, Blondie places a flat stone on the ground and promises the other men that they'll find the name on the grave on the underside of the stone, and that whoever survives the standoff can have it. The stone is blank, because there is no name on the grave. Blondie only knew where to look because Carson told him which grave the treasure was buried next to.
Eye Scream: Wallace gets Tuco to talk by pushing on his eyes.
Fluffy the Terrible: The names "Blondie" and "Angel Eyes" aren't exactly threatening. They are less funny in Italian. "Biondo" is a neutral word, like "blond one". "Angel Eyes" is called Sentenza, which means judgement, or verdict. His English name is supposed to echo this, meaning "Judgement in the eyes of God", but it comes off sounding more like he's just a handsome guy with dreamy eyes.
Freudian Trio: Blondie's the Ego, Tuco the Id, and Angel Eyes the Superego.
Foreshadowing: Blondie says his gun belt is empty, Tuco says "Mine isn't."
Hired Guns: Angel Eyes is best described as a mercenary.
His Name Is...: Lampshaded and subverted when Tuco tries and fails to extract information from the dying soldier, only to find that Blondie has succeeded in doing so.
Hollywood Density: Averted. It's not a plot point, but look how heavy those bags of gold apparently are.
Iconic Outfit: Blondie's poncho has become his trademark outfit, even though he doesn't wear it until the last 20 minutes of the 3-hour-long movie. It's memetic because he also wore it in the first film of the trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars.
Idiot Ball: A gunslinger from the beginning of the movie returns with only one arm to kill Tuco. He makes the mistake of talking and not killing him right on the spot, which leads to his death.
Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
I'll Kill You!: Tuco, after Blondie dissolves their (first) partnership and leaves him in the desert.
Blondie:Tsk, tsk. Such ingratitude, after all the times I've saved your life.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Each main character demonstrates this, even when they're drunk, but Blondie really takes the cake for the ability to shoot a rope perfectly on three separate occasions.
Angel Eyes' Establishing Character Moment is killing Stevens and his son after the interrogation about a missing man named Jackson. He also kills Baker, his own boss, after reporting that incident to him, because he wants all the money for himself.
Blondie and Tuco do this to each other, in a similar fashion. The only difference is, Tuco stays right by Blondie's side as he treks through a long and dangerous stretch of desert.
A scene in the extended cut has Tuco being outright awful to a dehydrated Blondie in the desert. Not only does he eat in front of him, but he lets him crawl to his foot-washing water, only to kick it away when he gets close.
Lack of Empathy: All three of them are empathy-impaired, but the near soulless Angel Eyes is the worst.
The Man They Couldn't Hang: Tuco, subverted with his new partner, by Blondie. And again literally left hanged at the ending... except Blondie comes back to shoot the rope from a very long distance, just for old times' sake.
Displayed by Baker, the old man who paid Angel Eyes to get information on the gold stash at the beginning of the film, when he finds out Angel Eyes wasn't joking about coming to kill him.
Tuco, when he realizes that the soldiers whom he has mistaken for Confederates are actually Unions in disguise with coatings of gray dust on their uniforms.
Tuco's reaction upon noticing the hangman's noose that Blondie has set up for him just after he has dug up the gold, and then again when Blondie shows up to attempt a long-distance cutting of the same rope with a bullet and Tuco thinks he's going to get shot instead of the rope around his neck.
Blondie gets three; petting a kitten, comforting the dying soldier and telling the dying Captain to keep his ears open.
Tuco gets one, when he meets with his brother and gives a shockingly eloquent defense for the life he's lived and the choices he's made.
Immediately after that, when riding away from his brother's monastery with Blondie, he begins to gush about how close he and his brother are in spite of how they'd just had a loud fight. It's unclear if he's trying to save face or if it's his way of expressing affection, but it's rather sweet nonetheless. Blondie even seems to play along, despite having heard everything.
Angel Eyes gets one in the extended version, where he appears to show sadness at the sight of several wounded soldiers at a fort, before allowing the sergeant he has questioned to keep the alcohol he used to bribe him with.
Popcultural Osmosis: The music, the last 15 minutes, hell, even the title have all permeated pop culture.
POW Camp: Blondie and Tuco end up in a Union POW camp after their scavenging of Confederate uniforms backfires on them. Angel Eyes is running the show. It's nasty.
Prequel: For the earlier Dollars movies. Blondie doesn't begin this movie wearing the trademark poncho he wears by film's end, which carries over to A Fistful of Dollars. The latter movie also has a tombstone with the date of death as 1873, and the American Civil War was fought ten years before that, in 1861–1865, so it is reasonable to assume that this is actually the Prequel.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Oddly enough, Angel Eyes. One man hires him to kill another, and his target tries to pay him to kill the man who sent him. He accepts their money and kills them both, cementing him as an utter bastard. Because when he's paid, he always follows his job through. Which makes this a subversion, since he takes everybody's money while still refusing to go back on his word. And he later decides to go for the treasure himself.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The hauntingly beautiful "Story of a Soldier" is played while Tucco is brutally tortured.
Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted. The bounty hunter who tried unsuccessfully to kill Tuco right at the beginning of the movie locates him again much later, in the bath, naked. He's clearly got the jump on him, but can't resist going into a speech about how glad he is to have finally cornered him. Tuco immediately whips out the revolver around his neck and kills him, saying to the corpse, "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk." A memorable Throw It In by Eli Wallach.
Tempting Fate: When Tuco sees troops in gray coming towards him and Tuco and decides to greet them, he yells, "God is with us because he hates the Yanks, too!" Turns out, the uniforms are gray from the dust. Before the revelation, and after Tuco's proclamation, Blondie proceeds to lampshade this by saying, "God is not on our side 'cause he hates idiots also."
Thanatos Gambit: Blondie pretends to write a name of the grave where the gold is buried on the bottom of a rock. After the climatic showdown, Blondie tells Tuco that there was no name on the rock because the grave where the gold was has no name. Had Angel Eyes succeeded in killing Blondie and Tuco, he would have no leads to search for the gold. Then again, they were at Arch Stanton's grave a few minutes earlier, which was right next to the unmarked grave, so unless Angel Eyes is a complete idiot and fails to put two and two together, it's unlikely this backup plan would've succeeded.
Number One (by Tuco): There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: those who have a rope around their neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting. Number Two (by Tuco): There are two kinds of spurs, my friend: those that come in by the door... those that come in by the window. Number Three (by Blondie): You see, in this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns, and those who dig.
Throw It In: Elli Wallach ad-libbed Tuco's now famous quip "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk!".
Torture Always Works: Subverted. Angel Eyes tortures Tuco for information, but not Blondie. Angel Eyes explains that this isn't because Blondie won't break under torture, but because he knows talking won't save him, and thus is likely to lie.
Two Halves Make A Plot: Tuco is just about to kill his old partner Blondie, but then ends up hearing one half of a dying man's testimony about hidden treasure and its location, before getting distracted and Blondie hearing the other half. Tuco learns the name of the graveyard it's in, Blondie learns the name on the grave it's buried in.
War Is Hell: The American Civil War is integral to the fabric of the film, and Leone is here to serve it up raw. This is remarkable in a film known primarily as a classic Western. Tattered armies in retreat. Exhausted, demoralized drunken commanders, chaos, dirt and unregarded bodies in the sun. Corn cobs to eat, scabrous prison camps, and summary justice meted out on the streets. The trope is perhaps most strongly in play during the futile fight for a bridge that Blondie and Tuco witness. An unremarked mass of shallow war graves make up the film's final setting.
Blondie: I've never seen so many men wasted so badly.
Angel Eyes orignally had a moment like this where he would look sadly at a group of dead soldiers but it was removed in the final cut, probably because it took away from Angel Eyes uncaring and ruthless nature. It can be seen in the extended edition though.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Almost a literal one; what happened to the kitten Blondie was petting before he finds Tuco in the deserted village?