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Film / The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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"Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We're gonna have to earn it."

The Spaghetti Western film.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italian: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, literally "The Good One, the Ugly One, the Bad One"), directed by Sergio Leone and 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 (due to how thoroughly it disassembles said genre) and inventing a bevy of new tropes (even popularizing the Mexican Standoff). It's had an incredible impact on the entirety of film-making since then, and is generally regarded as one of the greatest films ever created. The soundtrack was composed by Ennio Morricone, and remains perhaps his most memorable work (or at least on par with Once Upon a Time in the West).

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.

Somewhat fittingly — given that the "Dollars" trilogy started with an unauthorized knockoff of YojimboThe 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 1941).

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provides examples of :

  • Acme Products: The gun shop sells Acme Extra Black Powder.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: In particular for our two glorious rascals, Tuco's discussion with his brother who is a monk, which escalates into a brief fight, and Blondie's comforting of a dying soldier, which gives them necessary depth to their characters.
  • Adopt the Dog: Blondie shows a lot of compassion in the last half hour to soldiers on both sides, often at great cost, after spending most of the movie an apathetic True Neutral.
  • Affectionate Nickname: A brotherly example with Pablo Ramirez, who gets called "Pablito" by his brother Tuco.
  • All There in the Script: Otherwise unnamed characters such as Captain Clinton (the drunken Union Captain), Captain Harper (the Commandant) and Pardue (the Hotel Owner) are named in the script.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The movie contains numerous firearms that were not manufactured until after the civil war. The bridge battle in particular features a wide assortment of artillery, from period-appropriate Napoleon and Parrott guns to antiquated mortars and smoothbore cannon dating from the Napoleonic era.
    • The American flags flown by the Union army have 50 stars, 98 years too early for the film's setting. In 1862, the Union flag had 34 stars (with the admission of Kansas in 1861).
    • When the POW camp commandant is upbraiding Angel Eyes for his treatment of the Confederate prisoners, Angel Eyes responds with a comment about the treatment of Union prisoners of war at Andersonville. Andersonville was opened in 1864. The film is set in 1862.
    • In the store scene with Tuco, he and the owner pass by several crates of black powder marked "ACME". ACME was a generic name for companies that came into use in the 1920s to enable them to appear on the first page of most phone books. It would not have been in use in 1862.
    • In the prison camp scene where the musicians are playing while Tuco is being beaten by Angel Eyes, the fiddle has fine tuning adjusters on the tail-piece. These fine tune adjusters were designed for metal strings used many decades later.
  • And Starring: Eli Wallach in the role of Tuco. This is only true for the US version, however. European prints billed Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach together ahead of the title.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The credits sequence has a mix of animation and still photos with various filters applied to make them look somewhat hand-drawn.
  • 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.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The sole Bounty Hunter who survives his initial encounter with Tuco in the opening scene lost his right arm as a result of his wounds. We also see some of the wounded Confederate soldiers at the monastery where Tuco's brother resides have had limbs amputated due to their battle wounds and Tuco later quips to a Union soldier who has lost an arm about his own bounty "Three thousand dollars. That's a lot of money for a head. I'll bet they didn't pay you a penny for your arm."
  • Armies Are Evil: We see men in the wrong uniform being sent to concentration camps and tortured, and potentially hundreds shooting and dying to not let the other side take control or use a bridge, only to leave when Blondie and Tuco destroy it (thus showing that it wasn't considered that important by either side), abandoning some wounded in the process.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • Tuco's rap sheet goes from murder and rape down to transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes, and "contrary to the laws of this state, the accused has been found guilty of using marked cards and loaded dice!"
    • "I'm looking for the owner of that horse. He's tall, blond, he smokes a cigar and he's a pig!"
  • Artistic License Biology: After the bridge gets blown up, Tuco somehow manages to crouch with his butt in the air for about sixteen hours without even getting a head rush. The only consequence of this is that his legs are very stiff the next morning.
  • Artistic License Chemistry: Bubbles from bath salts are only made in hot water. Tuco somehow manages to make a bubble bath from cold water.
  • Artistic License History:
    • Tuco and Blondie use dynamite to blow the bridge. Dynamite was invented in 1867, two years after the civil war ended.
    • Tuco praises Lee and damns Grant out loud to the troops coming out of the desert. However, the movie takes place during the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico Territory in February- March of 1862, when both Lee and Grant were unknowns at this time. Lee didn't assume command of the Army of Northern Virginia until June 1862. Grant was a relative unknown when he won his first victory at Fort Donelson in February, 1862, hardly enough time for Tuco and Blondie to know who he was.
    • Trench warfare with protracted stalemates was a condition of World War I, not the Civil War. To be fair, the siege of Petersburg involved extensive trench warfare, but that did not occur until 1864.
  • Artistic License Physics:
    • That cannon shot lands about right next to Tuco, yet all it does is throw him and his horse down on the ground. In real life, horse and rider would have been blown to tiny bits.
    • It's not actually possible to neatly cut a rope with a single shot, especially not from a great distance. Furthermore, at the end, when Blondie flicks up the long-distance viewer with his rifle, the cross member falls all the way to the bottom, which wouldn't normally allow for the bullet to drop.
  • Atomic F-Bomb:
    • When Blondie dumps Tuco in the desert, Tuco belts out in Spanish:
    • Then at the end, he delivers it in English. The last word is audibly a Curse Cut Short but many subtitles leave it in.
  • Author Avatar: The three main characters all contain autobiographical elements of Sergio Leone. In an interview he said, "[Sentenza] has no spirit, he's a professional in the most banal sense of the term. Like a robot. This isn't the case with the other two. On the methodical and careful side of my character, I'd be nearer il Biondo (Blondie): but my most profound sympathy always goes towards the Tuco side... He can be touching with all that tenderness and all that wounded humanity."
  • B-Movie: Astoundingly, perhaps, the film is strictly speaking a B-feature by the 1960s definition of the term. It was made on a fairly thin budget and shot rather hastily, luminaries of the caliber of Orson Welles said it would be box office poison due to dealing with the Civil War, and it wasn't terribly widely distributed at first. It went on to make five times its budget back at the box office and become one of the most important films of all time.
  • Badass Boast: Tuco to Blondie:
    Tuco: But if you miss, you had better miss very well. Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive... he understands nothing about Tuco. [chuckles] Nothing.
  • Ballistic Discount: Tuco. Subverted in that he doesn't actually shoot the store owner. He just puts the "Open/Closed" sign in his mouth.
  • Bathroom Breakout: Tuco is captured by Union forces and transported by train to be hanged, with his torturer Corporal Wallace handcuffed to him as a guard. Using his bathroom break as a pretense to get near the door, he jumps out of the moving train and takes Wallace with him.
  • Bathtub Scene: Tuco had this... which doubles with Naked People Are Funny when a vengeful one-armed bounty hunter (that Tuco had shot in the hand earlier) bursts in on him and starts yapping at him about his victory. He delivers a long speech about how he tracked Tuco down, and how he had lots of time to learn to shoot with his left hand... which is cut off when Tuco shoots him with a gun hidden under the bathtub bubbles.
    Tuco: When you gotta shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
  • Batman Gambit: The final stretch of the movie leading up to the Showdown at High Noon. Blondie singlehandedly plays Tuco and Angel Eyes both like instruments; it starts with Blondie telling Tuco the fake name of the grave. Knowing Tuco would be eager to rush ahead and start digging, Blondie lets him go ahead before later surprising him and forcing him to start digging under his gun. To Angel Eyes, it looks like they're about to uncover the treasure, provoking him into making a move early and threatening Blondie into joining Tuco; in actuality, Blondie reveals that he still needs to be kept alive, since they're not digging up the gold and he's the only one that knows its location. This plan would have failed if Tuco didn't get tunnel vision digging at the grave, if Angel Eyes shot Blondie and/or Tuco first and dug for himself, or if he called Blondie's bluff and waited to see the gold before revealing himself.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The most handsome man just happens to be "The Good". Granted, the other two were morally worse than him, but Blondie's not much of a saint, either.
  • Behind the Black: This was possibly the first movie to use this deliberately, and to great effect. Leone specifically shot the movie with the idea that the characters could only be aware of what the camera saw. The most noticeable moments are probably Angel Eyes managing to sneak up on the other two in the middle of a mostly flat graveyard, and when Blondie and Tuco walk into the middle of a Union encampment without noticing.
  • Best Served Cold: Played for laughs when a one-armed man trains himself for months to shoot left-handed and get revenge against Tuco, who caused his mutilation. When he finally tracks him down, he goes on to give him the obligatory monologue, until an unimpressed Tuco kills him with his concealed pistol, annoyingly quipping "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the scene where Blondie brings a tied-up Tuco into town to claim the bounty on him, Tuco spits out a cigar and yells out something in Spanish. Translated to English, he is yelling out "Son of a bitch that gave birth to you!"
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The film has hints of this, as a result of its deconstruction of westerns (especially how, if a region were really as lawless as Western movies make out and had untouchable gunslingers, those gunslingers would be free to do just about anything without having to answer to anyone). The eponymous three characters are: an antihero con artist, a merciless Professional Killer who is practically the personification of coldblooded ruthlessness, and an all-around cad, respectively. Its "good guy" is still fairly sympathetic though, mostly because of one or two Pet the Dog moments sprinkled in a three-hour movie (that said, the cad is probably the most likable character in the film, in a Laughably Evil sort of way).
  • Black Comedy: Without a doubt the funniest of the Dollars Trilogy.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Tuco is energetic and quite temperamental. He also has the friendly, welcoming demeanor to go with it.
  • Bolro Effect: "The Ecstasy of Gold".
  • Bond One-Liner:
    Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
  • Bookends:
    • 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.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: The theme is arguably one of the most well known Western themes, and is the subject of a great many shout-outs in other media. However, it is frequently used to parody, or evoke, the tension of the climactic final shootout scene, which has its own theme, which doesn't use the "wah wah wah" riff.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Blondie does this to Tuco. ("There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend...")
  • Boss Subtitles: The three title characters are introduced by this as well as a freeze frame and Leitmotif.
  • Bounty Hunter: Blondie engages in a con involving turning in Tuco for the bounty on his head, freeing him from the noose by shooting off the rope, and then splitting the take between them. Angel Eyes is a much darker version. His very first scene involves his target trying to pay him to kill his employer by offering more than what he was paid. Angel Eyes takes the money but simply tells him "When they pay me, I always see the job through," and shoots him. In the very next scene, he collects his money from his employer and says the exact same line before brutally murdering him.
  • Cacophony Cover Up:
    • Three men are sneaking up to Blondie's room as a Confederate army column marches by. Unfortunately the column comes to an abrupt halt just as a spur jingles, alerting Blondie.
    • In the prisoner of war camp run by Angel Eyes, he has a band of captured Confederate soldiers play to cover the sound of his underling torturing Tuco.
  • Call-Back: It is revealed after Blondie kills Angel Eyes that he unloaded Tuco's weapon the night before the final showdown between the three. Blondie (as "Manco") in For a Few Dollars More did something similar before the final showdown between Morimer and El Indio in that film, stealing the watch off of Mortimer's watch chain the night before so he could later extend the musical countdown and allow Manco to arm Mortimer for the showdown fairly when El Indio, only moments before, was trying to cheat to kill Mortimer more easily.
  • Cannon Fodder: Invoked by the unnamed Union Captain that sees his men dying for a pointless bridge.
    "Whoever has the most liquor to get the soldiers drunk and send them to be slaughtered... he's the winner."
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Tuco planned to kill Blondie in the desert but is forced to keep him alive because Blondie holds the secret to the exact location of the MacGuffin. It is also why Angel Eyes doesn't kill Blondie at the POW camp when he's brought to him.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Blondie and Tuco are captured by Union soldiers and brought to a harsh prison camp (they were both wearing Confederate uniforms at the time and Tuco had foolishly shouted some pro-Confederate remarks just before being captured). There are three soldiers shown to be running the camp, and the two most prominently shown are the extremely brutal Corporal Wallace and Sergeant Angel Eyes. The commandant is actually a decent guy who tries to get the two brutal NCOs to treat the prisoners fairly. Unfortunately, he's dying from an infected wound, and unable to stop the two officers from taking prisoners inside a building just so they can beat the crap out of them while a coerced orchestra of Confederate POWs is forced to play music to drown out the sounds of the torture.
  • Captivity Harmonica: Used when Blondie and Tuco get marched to the Union prison camp.
  • Casting Gag: Ricardo Palacios, who had played the bartender in the deleted Socorro sequence where he lied to cover for Blondie, had previously played the Tucumcari bartender in For a Few Dollars More who had lied to cover for Guy Calloway.
  • Cavalry Officer: Blondie and Tuco encounter a Confederate cavalry officer, who turns out to be a Union cavalry officer after brushing the gray dust off his uniform. He is not amused.
  • Central Theme:
    • Even war won't stop the greedy.
    • Silence is valuable. The more you talk, the more danger you're in.
  • Chained Heat: Subverted. Tuco is captured by Union forces and transported by train to be hanged, with Corporal Wallace handcuffed to him as a guard. Using his bathroom break as a pretense to get near the door, he simply jumps out of the moving train and takes Wallace with him. When they land Tuco bashes the man's head in against a rock, then waits with the chain held across the rail for the next train to cut it.
  • 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.
  • Chromosome Casting: Maria, a prostitute appearing in a single scene, is the most important female character and the only one given a name. Four women are seen on screen during the three-hour movie (with something like eight minutes of screen time between them), and only one of them besides Maria has any dialogue at all.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The film is a backstabbing triathlon. Tuco in particular changes sides at least four times.
  • Cigar-Fuse Lighting: Blondie fires a cannon at Tuco this way.
  • *Click* Hello: Tuco to Blondie.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: We see the Man With No Name pick up his trademark poncho amongst other identifying traits throughout the film.
  • The Coats Are Off: It happens a few minutes before the final confrontation, but Blondie removes his longcoat to place it over a dying man, and instead dons the iconic poncho.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Angel Eyes (through Corporal Wallace) inflicts this on Tuco to get him to reveal his half of the info on where the gold is after he and Blondie are captured and taken to a prison camp.
  • Comfort the Dying: One of the few moments of true decency in the film's otherwise bleak setting is when Blondie (who is supposed to be the titular Good, but has mostly just been A Lighter Shade of Black) finds a young Confederate soldier dying in the aftermath of a Civil War battle. Without hesitation Blondie removes his coat and wraps the young man in it to comfort him, then gives the kid One Last Smoke from his cigar. Blondie even ignores the fact that one of his rivals is getting a head start towards the fortune in gold that all the main characters are trying to claim while he stays with the young soldier.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Just as Tuco is about to shoot Blondie in the middle of a god-forsaken, inhospitable desert, a horse-drawn carriage comes rolling down the road. The carriage contains Bill Carson, whom Angel Eyes had been pursuing throughout the film to this point, which serves to kick-start the rest of the plot.
  • Cool Guns: Navy Revolvers modified to fire metallic cartridges are seen in the hands of Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco. Blondie's pistol has a silver snake etched into the grip.
  • Country Matters: Intensity-wise, the English equivalent of Tuco's curse towards Blondie as he leaves him in the desert ("¡HIJO DE UNA GRAN PUTA!", mentioned elsewhere on this site to be the single strongest profanity in the Spanish language) would be, roughly speaking, "You son of a cunt!" It's probably for the best that Foreign Cuss Word came into play here (to put it in perspective, the only other time Tuco deployed it, earlier in the film, was a case of Department of Redundancy Department which literally translates to "son of the whore that gave birth to you").
  • Covers Always Lie: And in a confusing way. A number of the original one-sheet posters simply reuse an animated image of Van Cleef from For a Few Dollars More on it, in the Colonel's distinctive black costume, tie, and vest. While nowadays, we all know that Lee Van Cleef is playing an entirely different character from Col. Douglas Mortimer, when the film was released, anyone who saw these posters without seeing the trailer would likely assume that Manco was reteaming with Mortimer for this film, and would be in for the shock of their lives when Van Cleef, now playing "Angel Eyes," kills half of a family in his introductory sequence. To make matters worse, this is even lampshaded slightly by Sergio Leone, who was hesitant to cast Van Cleef in this film because he was afraid of the audience reaction to the actor who played Col. Mortimer being cast as this film's outright villain. These strange one-sheet posters making it seem Van Cleef was reprising his Col. Mortimer role would have only added to the fire. It should be said that Leone eventually got over his hesitation in having Van Cleef go from hero to villain, and the idea finally became appealing to him, thus he committed to casting Van Cleef.
  • Crosscast Role: A posthumous example with Arch Stanton, whose bones were that of a Spanish actress who wanted her skeleton to be used for movies, so she could continue acting after her death. Unless Arch Stanton was a woman...
  • Crossing the Desert: Blondie enforces a "walk through" on Tuco as he leaves him stranded in the middle of a desert and far from the nearest town. Reversed later with added Ironic Echo.
  • Cruel Mercy: At first it seems like Blondie is going to ride away and leave Tuco to hang himself when he eventually falls as retribution for double-crossing him. At the last minute, however, he turns, and fires his rifle, severing the rope, saying "Just like old times." Tuco is alive and has his share of the gold, but with no horse and in the middle of a deserted battlefield, getting back to civilization won't be easy (of course, he did manage it when Blondie abandoned him at the beginning of the movie...)
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • The very last line of the movie:
    • Apparently, what Eli Wallach really said when shooting the scene was "Hey Blondie! You know what you are? JUST A DIRTY MOTHERFUCKER!note 
    • Earlier, when Tuco realizes that Blondie lied to him about where the gold was buried, he gets to his feet, brandishing a shovel, ready to club him in the head with it.
      Tuco: Why, you son of a—
      Blondie: You thought I'd trust you?
  • Cute Kitten: Would you believe there is an adorable kitten in this movie?
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Tuco's threat to Blondie when the latter leaves him stranded in the desert.
    Tuco: If I ever catch you, Blondie, I'll rip your heart out and eat it! I'll scalp you! I'll skin you alive! I'll hang you up by your thumbs!
  • Deadly Bath: Tuco is ambushed while taking a bubble-bath by a one-armed man who he wronged in the past. While his left hand isn't his best, he had plenty of time to take aim at Tuco while he's naked and helpless in the bathtub. Then subverted when Tuco shoots him with his gun hidden under the bubbles.
  • Death Glare:
    • Angel Eyes has an awesome one.
    • And, of course, Blondie's.
  • Death of a Child: Angel Eyes shoots a man he was paid to kill, then shoots his young son, who was rushing down the stairs with a rifle to investigate. However, the younger son does survive.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The film deconstructs not only the morality of Westerns, but the dramatic structure they're built on, stripping it down to the bare minimum.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "¡Hijo de la puta que te parió!", screamed by Tuco when Blondie turns him in for the first time, literally translates to "Son of the whore that gave birth to you!"
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The title sequence.
  • Determinator: Not even a war can stop these men from going on a treasure hunt.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Blondie narrowly escapes death thanks to a cannon ball. Note that The Man With No Name hints at cannon fire during his conversation with Tuco as he slips the noose around his neck.
    • Blondie's life is saved twice by external circumstances. First Tuco's plan to hang him is foiled when canon fire hits the house. Later at the desert, Tuco is about to Mercy Kill Blondie when the carriage with Carson enters the scene.
  • Digital Destruction: Where to begin?
    • The 1998 DVD screws up the task of assembling the International Theatrical Cut, losing several seconds of footage exclusive to this version in the form of scene transitions, and also inserting several seconds of Italian-only footage never meant to be included.
    • Next, the 2004 Extended English Edition, which reinserts scenes exclusive to the 1966 Italian Cut with the goal of recreating the original cut. The result is a patchwork that was still missing minutes of Italian footage and adding footage deleted after its premiere in Rome (Il Grotto).
      • Also included is a 5.1 Surround mix with modernized sound effects that effectively replaces its original Mono presentation, with clumsy new English dubbing for the additional scenes.note 
      • Finally, any filmic detail was scrubbed away with digital noise reduction leaving us with a very mushy looking image.
    • The 2009 Blu-ray is largely identical to the 2004 DVD, with the small exception of a Mono track now being included... but this is the same 5.1 mix squashed into 1 channel of audio.
    • The 2014 remastered Blu-ray has excellent picture detail, however it uses the same Extended Cut and looks much more yellow than Leone intended; skys are teal and teeth are blue. This release boasts a legitimate English Mono track, but sounds badly degraded (shrill and lacking in bass).
    • Kino's 2017 Blu-ray was the first to try re-assembling the International Cut in almost 20 years, but unfortunately used the 1998 DVD as an editing guide. It also used the same degraded Mono as the 2014 Blu-ray and overcorrected its yellow tint, now favouring bright blue even in shadows. Kino also didn't encode the framerate of their extras properly, they're all jittery.
    • Finally averted with Kino's excellent 4K UHD, but it took us a long time to get here.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: A different take occurs. A thief escorted by Union soldiers is carrying a coffin on his back. The soldiers put him against a wall and shoot him, then place him in the coffin.
  • 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.
    • Blondie is distracted by a noise coming from the vicinity of a horse, and just misses the death of the injured Confederate soldier he was tending to.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Blondie ends his partnership with Tuco, the latter starts screaming and cursing after Blondie like he just broke up with him.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted; Tuco and Blondie put on a Confederate uniform but it backfires when they encounter a Union column. The column is initially identified as Confederate because of their gray uniforms but it turns out they are from the Union army; the dust covering their dark blue 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.
  • Drop the Cow: Dramatic example (really!): Sergio Leone felt a scene near the end was too melodramatic, so he released a small dog onto the set without telling Eli Wallach and then left his reaction in the film; of course, it's followed by ten minutes of pure Melodrama.
  • Dub Name Change: Sentenza became Angel Eyes for the English version.
  • The Dutiful Son: More of a reversal of the usual trope: Pablo left home to be a priest, leaving Tuco behind to take care of their parents. Unable to find legitimate work, Tuco became a bandit out of necessity. Or at least, that's his version. Tuco might have gone easier on his brother had the latter not had such a disapproving, condescending attitude to him and his activities.
  • The End: "The End" appears over Blondie's Off-into-the-Distance Ending.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Angel Eyes invites himself to Stevens' lunch table and pretends to have a friendly conversation while eating his food, then kills the man and his son after getting the information he needs.
  • Enemy Mine: The first half is a slowly-escalating buildup of hatred between Blondie and Tuco to the point where they're inches from clawing out each others' eyes. Then Tuco learns the location of a graveyard where gold is hidden, Blondie learns the name on the grave where the gold is buried, and they're forced to work together, later uniting against Angel Eyes after he learns Tuco's half of the secret.
  • Enter Stage Window: Tuco gets the drop on Blondie this way.
    Tuco: There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door; those that come in by the window.
  • Environmental Symbolism:
    • The Graveyard from the infamous showdown scene emphasizes the finality of the paths of the three principle characters. Sergio Leone had so brilliantly set up a situation where all three men couldn't possibly leave alive.
    • Not to mention it was designed to look like a Roman circus, as if the graves of the dead were watching the three men fight.
    • Most of the bits of architecture in the film resemble gallows, a running theme of the film.
  • Epic Movie: A sprawling saga of the Civil War on a vast environmental scale.
  • Establishing Character Moment: They're even labeled:
    • 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, gets the information, and accepts money from him (implicitly to kill his own boss). The man then tries to draw on him and he shoots the man dead. His eldest son comes downstairs (armed) 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. He laughs. "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."
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Both Blondie and Tuco are visibly horrified by the carnage of the Civil War at the bridge.
    • Tuco pulls one quick when Blondie reveals the corpse he dug and genuflects.
  • Evil Gloating: Tuco takes every opportunity to mock Blondie while marching him through the desert.
    • This is the downfall of a revenge-seeking killer when he confronts a bathing Tuco.
  • Exact Words: Blondie technically doesn't promise to reveal where the gold is buried—he just promises to reveal the name on the grave where it's buried. Too bad it's an unmarked grave.
  • Eyedscreen: The climax has quick shots of the three main characters' eyes just before the end of their Mle Trois.
  • Eye Scream: Wallace sticks his thumbs into Tuco's eyes to get information from him. It doesn't seem to do any permanent damage, though.
  • Facial Dialogue: Used to beautiful effect throughout the film. Particularly in the final shootout, where the audience reads the characters' thought processes while the characters are giving away nothing.
  • Failed a Spot Check: As an artistic choice, this happens so much that characters can hardly be said to even exist if they are not on screen. This is actually Leone's idea. Characters' fields of view are the same as the audience/camera's. This explains how Angel Eyes manages to sneak up on Blondie and Tuco in the middle of a mostly flat area for the film's final confrontation. While off-screen, they and the audience cannot see him.
  • Fainting:
    • Blondie passes out after Tuco marches him through a blisteringly hot desert (and, more importantly, after he learns the location of $200,000 in gold from a dying Confederate soldier).
    • Stevens' wife faints after seeing her son and husband have been killed by Angel Eyes. As she does, the camera shows the fainting from her POV.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Blondie's shirt hanging open revealing a lot of naked chest, after he's been tortured by being forced to walk in the desert with no water or cover, and is covered in blisters.
    • Tuco — you know, The Ugly. He gets a bath scene, naked except for his gun, and even a brief but loving ass shot.
  • Final Speech:
    • The final words of Bill Carson provide Tuco with the cemetery's location and Blondie with the name on the tombstone (each individually) where $200,000 is buried. This forces the two to work together and sets up the rest of the movie.
    • The film in general contains a handful of final speeches of otherwise unimportant soldiers of the American Civil War. note  Being a Western, the speeches are often very short and contain more body language than words.
  • Flies Equals Evil: There are flies about when Tuco opens the carriage, an instant hint that we are to encounter some corpses.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Tuco shouts two similar Spanish curses. First, when being carried tied-up into town, he shouts out "¡Hijo de una puta que te parió!" ("Son of the bitch who whelped you!"). Then, when Blondie abandons Tuco in the desert, Tuco yells the big one: "¡Hijo de una gran puta!" ("You son of a big whore!").
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Blondie says his gun belt is empty, Tuco says "Mine isn't." In the final scene, it's Tuco who goes without bullets.
    • When Tuco interrogates Bill Carson, Bill tells him that the grave has no date on it, and only tells the name to Blondie. Before reaching the cemetery, Blondie tells Tuco that the name is Arch Stanton. When Tuco finally arrives at the grave, we can see that it has a date, so it can be figured out that it's not the right grave. The grave right next to Arch Stanton's is simply labelled "unknown". At the end, Blondie tells Tuco that the gold is actually buried in the unnamed grave next to Arch Stanton's.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: All the title characters are introduced this way. The Ugly gets this introduction at the very beginning. Later, The Bad appears but gets his introduction only a scene later. Finally, we have The Good, whose introduction is even more scenes later, at around half an hour into the movie.
  • Freudian Trio:
  • Gangsta Style: In an early example, Tuco finishes off a baddie using this technique, during the famous "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk!" scene.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The original English-language version was significantly edited down from the Italian version before the dub was recorded, and the removed scenes went un-translated for decades. It wasn't until 2002 that a special edition was created which returned the 14 minutes of missing footage, with newly-recorded English dialogue. However, as Lee Van Cleef died in 1989, his character's lines had to be performed by Simon Prescott, and it's quite easy to tell that his voice isn't quite a match for Van Cleef's, though still a better match than those who could reprise their roles. Eli Wallach was able to return to record his character's lines, but his voice was noticeably older. Clint Eastwood also returned, and the quality of his new recordings was somewhere in between, sounding closer but also somewhat aged. Additionally, the entire movie's soundtrack was completely remixed and partially re-recorded to fit a 5.1 surround sound setup, with several sound effects being noticeably altered, especially the gunshots. The DVD and Blu-ray also include a second audio track featuring the Italian dialogue and the original sound mix.
  • Gold Fever: A driving force for the plot. Tuco enters a frenzy state when he finds the place where the gold is: "Ecstasy of Gold".
  • Good Costume Switch: Blondie borders on Chaotic Evil for most of the movie, but after he cements his goodness by selflessly comforting a dying soldier rather than choosing to pursue the gold, he changes to the poncho from the first two movies in which he's more caring and heroic.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes:
    • Everybody is squinting, all the time — but Lee Van Cleef squints harder than anybody else. He is, of course, the Bad.
    • Van Cleef is supposed to have said, "Being born with a pair of beady eyes was the best thing that ever happened to me."
    • Though to complicate matters, Tuco's look ranges from the determined squint through to wide-eyed amazement, and he is by no means a saint.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Being a period piece, it has a twist on the "Old West" guns variant. All three of the main characters use Old West styled guns, but each has technical and aesthetic differences to tell them apart:
    • Blondie, "the Good", uses a cartridge-converted Colt 1851 Navy .38 revolver, a classic "good" Old West gun. Showing that Good is Not Nice, he has a silver snake engraved into the handle.
    • Angel Eyes, "the Bad", primarily uses a dual-toned (thus flashier) Remington 1858 New Army, a more advanced revolver than Blondie's. It is also chambered in .44 caliber, making it more powerful than Blondie's as well.
    • Tuco, "the Ugly", goes through a number of guns throughout the film given that he's captured and arrested repeatedly, using whatever he can find. This fits his characterization as an Anti-Villain Bandito quite well. The weapon he is most identified with is the custom Navy revolver he pieces together out of several guns at the gun store, which foreshadows the complexity of his character that comes to light later.
  • Good Is Impotent: Done very subtly. Most of the characters and plot are stuck firmly into a Black-and-Gray Morality setting. The few truly good characters such as the priests or the Union Commandant are either helpless to change things or relegated to standing on the sidelines while the Black and Gray characters run things.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Doubly inverted: Angel Eyes smokes a pipe, but this makes him a Distinguished Badass rather than a Distinguished Gentleman. Blondie smokes cigarillos, but is the Good (relatively, within the spectrum of Grey-and-Grey Morality).
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil:
    • Obviously (and unsurprisingly) a partial Trope Namer and pretty much the whole point of the film. Interestingly, Tuco's mislabeling in the English-language trailer as "The Bad" actually makes more sense in light of this.
    • This is also the name used in the Russian translation of the movie: Хороший, плохой, злой
  • Greed: Greed is the motivating factor in the lives of all three protagonists. They want the gold, and they don't care what they have to do to get it. Angel Eyes is by far the worst about it. He's basically this vice in a coat and a cowboy hat.
  • Growling Gut: Tuco's stomach growls when Angel Eyes invites him over for lunch.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Wallace lets Tuco go relieve himself. BIG mistake.
  • Gun Porn: The film has some very loving close-up shots of revolvers being disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, with some chill-inducingly satisfying foley.
  • Gun Stripping: Blondie cleans his guns at one point. He has to finish before bandits enter his room. Tuco also does this also when assembling his hybrid pistol from several others.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Blondie's hair is sandy brown. This is due to imperfect translation from the original Italian.
  • Hanging Around: The hero and his partner run a scam in which he turns the partner in for a bounty and saves him by shooting the rope before the sentence can be carried out. This leads to several hangings of the latter that the former interrupts.
  • Hellhole Prison: The film has an infamous sequence where Blondie and Tuco are captured by Union soldiers and brought to a particularly nasty camp. What follows soon after is the brutal torture of Tuco by Angel Eyes and another soldier- okay, in this case they want information, but he openly admits that "the talking won't save you" (in other words, he tortured Tuco even further after he'd told him everything). To make matters worse, it's heavily implied that this is a normal occurrence in the camp, and most of the prisoners probably didn't even have information worth torturing them for. Fortunately, Blondie gets out of there quickly before anything can happen to him. To make it even more depressing, they're actually going entirely against regulations — the commandant actually does want the prisoners treated fairly, but he's powerless to stop them because he's dying from gangrene.
  • 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: In the 1860s a 20 dollar gold coin weighted around 33.44 g (1.18 oz), so 200,000 dollars in gold would've weighted 334.4 kg (737.23 lbs), or around 41.8 kg (92 lbs) for each of the 8 bags shown in the film. That means Blondie, Tuco, and their horses heave those bags of "gold" around far more easily than they should. And that's leaving aside how one would fit 1,250 coins in each of those bags.
  • Hope Spot: Inverted. When Tuco is forced to stand on a cross with a rope around his neck, he watches helplessly as Blondie rides away into the hills. Then he sees Blondie coming back, and loading his rifle. His smile fades when he thinks Blondie is going to shoot him. Instead, Blondie shoots the rope, sparing Tuco's life.
  • Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: The Man With No Name dons his iconic poncho in the third act, solidifying that this was the prequel to the others in the trilogy.
  • I Gave My Word: Angel Eyes shoots his employer after taking money from his last victim to do so. He always keeps a contract, even with a man he's just killed.
  • IKEA Weaponry: Tuco cobbles together his own custom pistol from various revolver parts at a general store, which he then proceeds to rob.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: The bounty hunter from the beginning of the movie returns with only one arm to kill Tuco. He makes the mistake of telling Tuco who he is and how much he is going to enjoy his revenge and not killing him right on the spot, which leads to his death.
    Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
  • Impairment Shot: In the opening scene when the mother faints on seeing her husband and son dead, the camera swiftly takes her view while she collapses.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Displayed by many mooks who shoot at Blondie and Tuco. The most glaring example is when Angel Eyes sends his men to kill Tuco and Blondie in the abandoned town. The first guy has a clear shot at from the top of a building with a rifle while they are calmly walking down the street in broad daylight and he still manages to miss.
  • 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 with a rifle, from a great distance, on three separate occasions. When Blondie and Tuco use revolvers, there are two things they almost never do: aim or miss.
    • After shooting down Angel Eyes, Blondie then casually shoots his hat and his gun so they both flip into the grave his corpse tumbled into.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The film has a handful of guns that don't quite fit its Civil War timeframe. Blondie uses a Winchester 1866 "Yellow Boy" rifle (slightly modified to make it resemble a Henry rifle) and Tuco finds both an 1868 Garland revolver and an 1889 Bodeo when he's robbing the gun store. It's a common misconception that Blondie's revolver, an 1851 Colt Navy converted to fire cartridges, is an anachronism, but such conversions were available as early as 1858.
  • Informed Attribute: Tuco nicknames The Man With No Name "Blondie", and interrogates other characters as to his whereabouts by asking for a 'tall blond man'. Angel Eyes goes so far as to gush over Blondie's beautiful blond hair, calling him a 'blond-haired angel'. His hair is light brown. This is particularly bizarre because the part was almost certainly written for Eastwood. The reason is a failed Woolseyism - the original Italian script had Tuco nickname the Man With No Name "Biondo", which technically means "blond" but can be used to mean someone with fair colouring. The novelization, more closely based on the Italian script, refers to the character as 'Whitey'.
  • Ironic Echo: After Blondie decides to abandon Tuco in the desert, but reassures Tuco that it's only about 70 miles back to town, saying "If you save your breath, I feel a man like you can manage it" before leaving Tuco screaming. Tuco not only survives this encounter, but upon finding Blondie again, forces him to travel through the desert without protection from the sun, or water, on a journey Tuco estimates to be about 100 miles. To add insult to injury, he says "What was it you told me the last time? If you save your breath I feel a man like you could manage it."
  • Ironic Nickname: Angel Eyes sports a perpetual narrow-eyed sneer.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: While they're waiting in the small dugout for the soldiers to leave the area where the bridge used to be Blondie, while Tuco is asleep, empties the bandit's gun, so that in the final showdown, he shoots Angel Eyes without Tuco interfering.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In a villainous example, Angel Eyes (through Corporal Wallace) inflicts this on Tuco to get him to reveal his half of the info on where the gold is after he and Blondie are captured and taken to a prison camp.
  • Jerkass: The three main characters themselves, though Angel Eyes is more than that.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At the end, when confronted with the empty grave and realising that Blondie lied to him about the grave the treasure was buried in, Tuco furiously goes to attack Blondie with the shovel. Before he can, Blondie calmly says "You think I'd trust you?" Tuco stops and grudgingly drops the shovel, silently conceding his own lack of trustworthiness.
  • The Joy of X: The title is frequently parodied or referenced by other works.
  • Just Between You and Me: Subverted. Tuco is surprised while in the tub by an old rival, who starts talking about how his revenge is at hand. Tuco, unimpressed, shoots the rival, then notes "When you have to shoot: shoot, don't talk," before finishing him off Gangsta Style.
  • Just Train Wrong: The military train scene. The engine is quite clearly a Spanish engine with a cowcatcher and balloon smokestack clapped on, and the buffers are clearly visible. As the train moves on, we can see the European-style two-axle cars, instead of the American bogie cars, which were well established by the 1860s.
  • Keep It Foreign: Done inadvertently on the American CED release and the 1990 MGM/UA Home Video VHS release with the aforementioned Establishing Character Moments, as well as the same labels at the end of the film.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • 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.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: Both Angel Eyes and Tuco know the name of the grave site - Blondie is initially disadvantaged as he only knows the name on the grave itself, but will eventually become the Kingmaker and the other two know this. After Angel Eyes finds out Tuco's half of the secret, the film spends a little time watching the two fighting over who gets Blondie (he sides with Tuco in the end, but out of choice. No-one gets to tell the Man With No Name what to do).
  • Last Breath Bullet: Last minute subversion. After being beaten to the draw by Blondie, a dying Angel Eyes tries to recover and shoot back. Blondie just calmly shoots him again before he can manage.
  • Leave Him to Me!: "Hey, Blondie, Angel Eyes is mine". Subverted when they burst in and find him gone. And later when Blondie deliberately breaks the promise.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Some scenes run long. Doesn't hurt the movie, instead adds to the epic feel of it.
  • Leitmotif: The main theme is turned into one for each protagonist (The Good's has a whistle, The Bad's an ocarina, and The Ugly's screamed — "AAAAAAAAH!").
  • List of Transgressions: At each of Tuco's "executions" an official reads off the list of crimes for which he has been convicted. They go on for quite a while. Among other things he is charged with murder, arson in a state prison, theft of sacred objects, inciting prostitution, armed robbery and bigamy. He also robbed from both sides of the Civil War.
    • Considering how many of the offenses on the list ... even the relatively lower-grade ones ... were capital crimes, how he and Blondie cheat the executioner more than once is an exercise best left to Sergio Leone and the viewer, and in-universe, even Blondie realizes that the scam may not work the third time around and leaves Tuco in the desert after the second time, his only stated reason being that he didn't think Tuco would ever be worth more than three grand.
    • The first time we see them pulling this scam, the judge sounds really indignant as he winds up with "... and, contrary to the laws of this state, the condemned is guilty of using MARKED CARDS AND LOADED DICE!"
    • One judge remarks that Tuco "spontaneously confessed" to many of the crimes, implying that he made at least some of them up to drive up his bounty.
  • Little Hero, Big War: The film takes place against the backdrop of The American Civil War. The eponymous characters, however, are only involved with it in a tangential sort of way for most of the story.
  • Lost in Translation: The Finnish title is Hyvät, pahat ja rumat (implying that the movie isn't so much about three persons, one of whom is considered good, the second bad and the last ugly, but several of each.)
  • MacGuffin: The buried Confederate gold.
  • Manly Tears: Tuco sheds quiet, restrained ones after learning about the deaths of his parents.
  • 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.
  • Market-Based Title: Known in France as Le Bon, la Brute et le Truand (The Good, the Brute and the Thug).
  • A Master Makes Their Own Tools: Tuco (The Ugly) built his own revolver by taking bit and pieces from a bunch of different guns in a gun store. None of that gun store's best ones was good enough for him.
  • Mle Trois: The famous climax is a Mexican Standoff between the three eponymous leads, well-known enough that almost half of it is in the theatrical trailer, although it stops short of showing the outcome. Although a picture of the scene would make a good trope-picture, it turns out to have a minor subversion since Blondie had unloaded Tuco's revolver, so he knew there was only one threat on the field. But since the viewers and the other two combatants didn't know, the delightful tension before the battle was still there.
  • Menacing Hand Shot: During the climactic Mexican Standoff, the camera cutting back and forth between Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes includes shots of their hands near their weapons, anticipating the draw.
  • Mexican Standoff: One of the most famous scenes involves the titular characters in one of these, and may well be the Trope Codifier. Despite that, it is actually a subversion. Blondie knew that Tuco's gun was unloaded, so he knew to shoot Angel Eyes and deal with Tuco later.
  • Multi-Character Title: The title references Blondie (the Good), Angel Eyes (the Bad), and Tuco (the Ugly).
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When it comes down to it, the final Mexican Standoff - cum - Showdown at High Noon is about three men standing in a graveyard doing nothing for about five minutes while Ennio Morricone's music blasts at full audio. It is often listed as one of the most intense and dramatic scenes in the history of cinema. Similarly, "The Ecstasy of Gold", the second best-known track after the Leitmotif, is used to make a man running through a graveyard epic.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: Angel Eyes, who is well known for always following through on a contract, is hired to kill Stevens after finding out what the man knows about a huge fortune of missing gold. While talking, his target tries to pay Angel Eyes double his fee to spare him. Angel Eyes kills him anyway, but decides to interpret the move as the target hiring him to strike back at Baker, the man who hired him. When Angel Eyes reports back to Baker, the following exchange takes place:
    Angel Eyes: [to Baker] Oh, I almost forgot — he paid me a thousand. I think his idea was that I kill you.
    [both laugh]
    Angel Eyes: ... but you know, the pity is when I'm paid, I always follow my job through. You know that.
    Baker: No! Angel Eyes!
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: Angel Eyes. "Trouble is when I'm paid, I always see my job through to the end..." It's not the protagonists he pursues, it's poor Bill Carson. But other than that...
  • Naked People Are Funny: Tuco in the bathtub.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer had a narrator with annoying diction continually blurting out, "The Good... The Bad... and the UGLY" over footage of the three title characters. Unfortunately, because the original Italian title (Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo) translates literally as 'The Good, The Ugly, The Bad', Angel Eyes and Tuco were swapped in the trailer, making poor Lee Van Cleef appear to be the "ugly" (indeed, Van Cleef would be called "Mr. Ugly" in advertisements for his future films). Eli Wallach must have been flattered.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Played with. Blondie (nice) is an Unscrupulous Hero, Angel Eyes (mean) is pure evil, and Tuco (in-between) is an Anti-Villain, a thoroughly despicable person who is by far the most human character in the whole movie, made likable by how funny and childish he is and caught between the other two outlaws, who act like forces of nature rather than people.
  • Nightmare Face: After Tuco drags him across the desert bereft of water and shade, the skin on Blondie's face looks like it's breaking out into boils and melting.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Tuco's torture scene at the Union prison camp. Immediately preceded by a nice dinner.
    • Later on in the film, Tuco delivers a shorter but arguably more brutal one to his torturer by throwing him from a moving train and repeatedly slamming his head against a rock until he dies.
  • Noisy Guns:
    • Inverted when Tuco is displeased with the loud clicks that a revolver makes as its cylinder is turned, indicating its poor quality. He dismantles several pistols to construct his own from the parts, and then demonstrates to the clerk that the new gun clicks very softly when its cylinder is rotated.
    • Played for humor and awesome when Blondie remarks (to the kitten) that he recognized the sound of Tuco's revolver firing from across town.
      Blondie: Every gun makes its own tune.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: The battle segment ends with Blondie and Tuco destroying the bridge (a Third Option the captain had suggested earlier) so that the armies will go elsewhere.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: At the POW, when Tuco is ordered to Angel Eyes, to his surprise he is invited to a meal. The benign gesture is only temporary.
  • Not Quite Dead: A nameless character apparently killed in the first scene comes back for revenge about two hours later, only to be shot more decisively.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Confronted with the abuses of Confederate prisoners at the Union camp, Angel Eyes comments that the Confederates do the same to Union prisoners in their own.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: With Tuco safe and sound with his share of the gold, Blondie rides off into the hills.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: This was possibly the first movie to use this deliberately, and to great effect. Leone specifically shot the movie with the idea that the characters could only be aware of what the camera saw. The most noticeable moments are probably Angel Eyes managing to sneak up on the other two in an empty graveyard, and when Blondie and Tuco walk into the middle of a Union encampment without noticing.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • 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 with coatings of gray dust on their blue 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.
  • One Last Smoke: Blondie gives some dying young soldier a drag from his cigar. It is not some special request, though; merely something nice you can easily do for a dying person you do not know personally.
  • One-Liner: Almost all of the dialogue.
  • One-Woman Wail: "The Ecstasy of Gold". Not so much a One Woman Wail as a One Woman Orgasmic Scream, though.
  • Only in It for the Money: Blondie, Tuco, and especially Angel Eyes. Unlike many villains with this trait it doesn't make him more sympathetic; in fact, it does just the opposite.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Blondie and Angel Eyes/Sentenza ("Sentence" in Italian, in the sense of "Verdict" or "Judgement").
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Some scenes can be mistaken for a war film. Especially when Blondie and Tuco are going through a Union camp to get to the cemetery on Sad Hill and are watching the war from the sidelines.
    Blondie: I've never seen so many men wasted so badly.
  • 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.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: When Tuco is Crossing the Desert on horseback he's not only wearing a sombrero, he puts up a pretty pink parasol as well. Blondie however is bareheaded and on foot, as Tuco wants him to die a slow death of heatstroke or thirst.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Blondie is only "the Good" because he shows some mercy (and most of his ruthless acts are retaliation...)
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Blondie gets three; petting a kitten, comforting the dying soldier and telling the dying Captain to keep his ears open.
    • Arguably also coming back to shoot the rope so Tuco doesn't die. Even though he's the one who put Tuco in that situation, he also left him with his share of the gold and just took the opportunity to get a nice head start.
    • 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.
  • Pillow Silencer: Angel Eyes begins to suffocate Baker under a pillow, then shoots through the pillow and kills him.
  • Popcultural Osmosis: The music, the last 15 minutes, hell, even the title have all permeated pop culture.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • As Tuco reunites with his old partners in crime while planning his revenge on Joe for leaving him in the desert after saving him from the noose a second time:
      Tuco: And people talk bullshit.
    • Right after said second attempt to hang him, Tuco has this to say about how it feels to be hanged:
      Tuco: When that rope starts to pull tight you can feel the devil bite your ass!
  • 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, whereas this movie takes place during the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico Territory in February-March of 1862, so it is reasonable to assume that this is actually the Prequel.
  • Price on Their Head: Blondie and Tuco run a scam where Blondie turns Tuco in for the reward money ($2,000) and then rescues him from the hangman and they split the bounty.
  • Quick Draw: No Western movie is complete without this.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Tuco uses a pink woman's parasol against the desert sun.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Union Captain who actually runs Betterville Prison Camp tries to treat prisoners fairly; Angel Eyes pointedly ignores him.
  • Recurring Riff: One of the most famous.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tuco (red) and Blondie (blue).
  • Revolver Cylinder Spin: When Tuco cobbles together a gun using parts from multiple revolvers, right before he robs the gun shop owner he asks for a single bullet, then gives the cylinder a spin after loading it.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Tuco enters a general store and is unimpressed by the storekeep's selection of revolvers. He breaks the guns down and assembles a new gun from the parts that meet his high expectations. In reality, this would have been fairly improbable. Gun parts at the time were rarely interchangeable even between guns of the same model.
  • Rule of Perception: Enforced. One of the film's famous rules is that nothing exists until it has been shown on screen; consequently, characters will frequently fail to notice things that should be extremely obvious to them, simply because the audience has not seen it yet.
  • Rule of Three: The movie is sort of a "fairy tale for grown-ups", so it contains this element. There are three main characters in the story (Tuco, Blondie and Angel Eyes), three satellite bads and uglies who got involved in the business with the gold in the first place (Baker, Stevens and Jackson), and Tuco is nearly hanged three times. Blondie and Angel Eyes also both kill three people in their introductory scene, and in the original script, Tuco tries to kill Blondie three times.
  • Say My Name: In the final scene, Blondie forces Tuco to stand on a cross with a noose around his neck as punishment for everything the latter has done to the former, then rides away with half the bags of gold they were looking for. As the tension builds and builds, Tuco, bound, unarmed and helpless, screams BLONDIE! several times, and each time he does, he almost loses his footing on the cross. Don't worry about him, though, he's saved at the last minute.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: In an ordinary movie, either Angel Eyes or Blondie would be one. But here, everyone can track anyone like this.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of wide, sweeping shots of the enormous desert landscapes the characters travel through.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Escalation: The film is nothing short of epic, with a cast of thousands, huge battle scenes, impressive set pieces, more elaborate music, a staggering body count, and nearly double the runtime of either of the previous movies.
  • The Seven Western Plots: Despite the film being a deconstruction of the genre, the film itself is largely a mixture of a revenge and outlaw story, following Blondie (the Good), Angel Eyes (the Bad), and Tuco (the Ugly), as they pursue a chest of Confederate gold while constantly betraying and trying to kill each other along the way.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: Downplayed. Tuco's left hand gets tied to his chair with handcuffs by Angel Eyes before the Cold-Blooded Torture starts.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Angel Eyes does a simple one. "That your family? Nice family." He proceeds to shoot the man he's talking to, along with his son. After he gets what he wants.
  • Shooting Gallery: Tuco crawls out of the desert, staggers into a store and after angrily rejecting the revolvers he's offered, assembles a custom model from the stripped parts of other guns. The store owner suggests he test it out the back where he has three targets painted like Native Americans. Shooting from the hip, Tuco hits all three targets so they spin sideways, then shoots them again even through they're edge on to him. The store owner is impressed until Tuco secures a Ballistic Discount.
  • Shoot the Rope: Blondie turns Tuco in for the bounty and repeatedly saves him from the gallows before the sentence could be carried out in this fashion. The comedic variation also occurred at one point. It's a Rule of Three: first time played straight, second time the rope is only partially severed; by the time the rope breaks, the horse has run off and Tuco has to catch a lift on Blondie's horse; this incident leads to an acrimonious breakup. By the time Tuco catches up with him intent on revenge, Blondie is about to do the scam with a new partner. Tuco refuses to allow Blondie to shoot, and the man is hung.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film ends with Tuco stranded in the middle of a cemetery with a large sum of money and no horse to get back to town, which is likely a reference to the film Greed. However, unlike McTeague, Tuco is left behind close to a river, and with Angel Eyes' still-loaded gun, so he has a chance for survival.
    • There is a battle fought over a destroyed bridge, as a reference to the Buster Keaton film The General.
    • In the camp, a soldier cries while playing a flute. This is an echo of a similar shot in Gone with the Wind; The beginning of the "Ecstasy of Gold" sequence is a crane shot of the whole of Sad Hill Cemetery, which recalls the crane view of Scarlett in the middle of the street among the hundreds of dead and dying soldiers.
    • The way Blondie and Tuco are marched into the prison camp echoes the prisoners of war being marched into the camp in The Bridge on the River Kwai.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The climactic three way standoff in the cemetery.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The movie takes place during Sibley's New Mexico Campaign of 1862; Sibley himself appears briefly, the Union commander, Edward Canby, is mentioned and characters reference the Battles of Apache Pass and Glorieta. On the other hand, the forces involved weren't anywhere near as large as Leone implies; Sibley's expedition numbered only about 2,000 men, mostly cavalry and mounted infantry, compared with the movie's cast-of-thousands trench battles.
    • Tuco takes a stock from one brand of gun, a revolving chamber from another, and a barrel from another brand yet and makes a working and highly accurate gun. Because of the standardization of handgun parts by the mid-1800s, this is completely plausible, if unusual in practice.
    • The train features an armored car with a mortar-type cannon. These were actually mounted on trains during the Civil War, especially where railroads had to operate near places where there was heavy fighting.
  • Situational Hand Switch: A bounty hunter who lost his right arm to Tuco at the beginning of the film learns to shoot with his left, which, after catching up to Tuco, he squanders by bragging about it instead of just killing him.
  • Silence is Golden: The film runs ten minutes before anybody speaks. Also, in the final climactic three way duel, there is no dialogue at all for over five minutes, and the film relies entirely on the score, and closeups of the three main character's faces, each trying to decide whether to move first. It is widely considered to be one of the most dramatic and tense moments in film history.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: A prostitute appearing in a single scene is the most important female character and the only one given a name. Every last woman in the film besides her is someone's wife, and all their appearances are within the first hour of the nearly 3-hour film. Rape, incidentally, is on Tuco's Long List of prior offenses, which is entirely Played for Laughs (and is one of the crimes he may or may not have made up, anyway). In any case, it is mentioned offhand that the bandido Really Gets Around and has been married at least once.
  • Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: The film runs ten minutes before anybody speaks. Also, in the final climactic three way duel, there is no dialogue at all for over five minutes, and the film relies entirely on the score, and closeups of the three main character's faces, each trying decide whether to move first. It is widely considered to be one of the most dramatic and tense moments in film history.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Blondie with cigars, Angel Eyes with his pipe.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Angel Eyes does a magnificent impression of one of these, infiltrating Union lines as a sergeant. He tortures prisoners for information and generally runs his prison camp as though it were Auschwitz (despite the protestations of his Captain). His right-hand man and Torture Technician Wallace is a straight example, being a Union soldier, and a total thug.
    • However, it is averted by the Union soldiers Tuco and Blondie encounter later on, who are led by a likable, humorous fellow who happens to be A Father to His Men, making his sudden death during the ensuing battle a surprisingly tear-jerking moment for a bit character, and there's also a younger lieutenant who seems to be an ordinary man caught up in a war he does not understand.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Tuco's shout of "You know what you are?! Just a dirty son of a...!" cuts the last word by playing the movie's trademark prairie-dog howl, and transitioning from that into the main theme to accompany the "The End" sequence.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The hauntingly beautiful "Story of a Soldier" is played while Tuco is brutally tortured. Then again, the lyrics show the song to be a poignant lament about the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, making the scene double the tearjerker.
  • Spell My Name with an S: On the chapter list for the 1998 MGM laserdisc, Angel Eyes is consistently referred to as "Setenza", which is one letter shy of his original Italian name.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Hidden Fortress, another film about two men going on a journey on the promise of a monetary reward, which involves walking through a war.
  • Spiteful Spit: Tuco spits into Blondie's face during the first iteration of their scam.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: What characters "see" is often dictated by the edges of the frame rather than anything realistic: for instance, at one point Tuco sneaks up on Blondie in an entirely flat landscape, getting close enough to hold a gun to his head before he notices.
  • Stealth Pun: Blondie owes his fortunes in this film to a grave marked "UNKNOWN", ergo, literally belonging to a Man With No Name.
  • Stealth Sequel: The film actually takes place before the first two films.
  • Super Window Jump: Tuco's introduction consists of him crashing through a window to get outside after the building he's hiding in gets stormed by his enemies. In this case, he couldn't use the door because said enemies were blocking it.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: This is a factor in what makes Tuco at least as sympathetic as Blondie. Tuco has done some pretty horrible things off-screen, but of the three protagonists, he's the one who's given the most on-screen "human" moments and displays the broadest emotional range. Blondie is an enigma who gets a few Pet the Dog moments in the last third of the film, and Angel Eyes is a stone-cold killer except for a scene in the director's cut which plays him sympathetically as well.
  • Talk to the Fist: 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.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted. A bounty hunter who tried unsuccessfully to kill Tuco 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, "If you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." A memorable case of Throw It In.
  • Talking to the Dead: When Tuco catches up with Blondie, he finds Blondie running the same bounty racket with another bandit. Blondie is forced to watch his new partner die, to which he mutters "Sorry, Shorty."
  • Tasty Gold: Tuco test-bites an item he finds when looting the carriage in the desert.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When Tuco sees troops in gray coming towards him and Blondie 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."
    • At another point, Tuco boasts that Blondie can trust him because he has gotten them both that far. Cue them being surrounded and captured by Union soldiers.
  • 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 doesn't put two and two together, it's unlikely this backup plan would've succeeded.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Just before the 'two against five' sequence, a burst of the theme music plays as Blondie asks Tuco "Were you going to die alone?" and joins him to fight Angel-Eyes' men.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Tuco's Catchphrase, always with a different ending. Most of them don't make a whole lot of sense. Also used in an Ironic Echo at the end.
    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 Tuco, in a deleted scene appearing on very few editions): The world is divided into two kinds of people, those who have friends and those who are lonely like poor Tuco.
    Ironic Echo (by Blondie): You see, in this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.
  • Thirsty Desert: Tuco force-marches Blondie across a desert until Blondie collapses from dehydration.
  • 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 Blondie knows that talking won't save him, and thus is likely to lie.
  • Touch of the Monster: The Death Ray Vision type. Poor Maria.
  • Trash the Set: The bridge in the battle scene was built with the intent of it being blown up in the climax, so Leone knew they had to do it in one take. However, the scene had to be filmed twice, as in the first take all three cameras were destroyed by the explosion.
  • Travel Montage: Quite a few throughout the film.
  • Two Halves Make a Plot: Tuco is just about to kill his old partner Blondie, but then ends up getting distracted by a runaway carriage and, upon investigating, 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.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Tuco keeps his pistol dangling around his neck with a piece of rope. Apparently, this was because Eli Wallach kept looking down to check whenever he wore a pistol belt.
  • Villainy Discretion Shot: Tuco has a rapsheet that indicates he's a rapist and mass murderer. He doesn't do anything nearly that bad on camera and is presented as a humorous character — and the Long List of his crimes is itself somewhat Played for Laughs. It's possible some of the crimes were made up because he had reason to increase the price on his own head.
  • Vocal Evolution: In the extended cut, which was Re-Cut some thirty years after it was originally released. Since sync-sound was not recorded during filming (the various actors hailed from different countries and they all spoke in their native languages), the new scenes were never dubbed during the original cut's post production process, the original actors were brought back to dub the new lines. Problem was... they're all thirty years older the second time around (Eli Wallach was pushing on 90 when he dubbed his lines, and therefore his voice was even raspier than it was some forty years ago), and it shows.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Tuco has one emblazoned with a humorously anachronistic high-res photograph of the outlaw.
  • 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 abandoned 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.
  • Weapon Stomp: Early on when Blondie captures Tuco, the latter reaches for a gun on the ground until Blondie steps on it.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life:
    • Blondie remarks upon this after seeing a clash between Union and Confederate troops over a contested bridge.
    • Angel Eyes originally 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 his 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?
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Tuco turning the tables on Blondie and letting him suffer while Crossing the Desert.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Invoked by Tuco, when he kills the guy who wanted to kill him for causing him to lose his arm.
    Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
  • Widescreen Shot: The graveyard shot is a notable one.
  • Will Talk for a Price: The legless man has trouble remembering where Carson's girl is staying until Angel Eyes hands him change.
  • You Are Fat: Tuco taunts Corporal Wallace, an overweight - and rather sadistic - Torture Technician, by saying he likes fat people, because when he knocks them down it's funny seeing them try to get up.



Video Example(s):


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

$200,000 is a lot of money. Blondie, Tuco and Angel-Eyes are going to have to earn it.

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