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Sergio Leone
Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Walllach
Writing Credits:
Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French DTS 5.1
German DTS-HD MA 1.0
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 179 min.
Price: $8.99
Release Date: 10/7/2014

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
• “Leone’s West” Featurette
• “The Leone Style” Featurette
• “The Man Who Lost the Civil War” Featurette
• “Reconstructing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Featurette
• “Il Maestro” Featurettes
• Deleted Scenes
• Vignettes
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly [Blu-Ray] (1966)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 17, 2022)

Set in the American west during the Civil War, 1966’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly introduces us Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) as he searches for a man named Jackson, who we learn now uses the alias of “Bill Carson”. Allegedly Carson knows the whereabouts of some hidden cash, and Angel Eyes will stop at nothing to locate this fortune.

Next three men ambush Tuco (Eli Wallach) to collect a $2000 reward. Blondie (Clint Eastwood) intervenes and takes Tuco to the authorities himself.

Blondie claims the reward but then rescues Tuco and splits the money. Obviously the pair do this act frequently.

Blondie tires of Tuco and abandons him in the desert. This sets off Tuco on a mission of revenge against Blondie.

The rest of the film follows these three main characters. Tuco eventually captures Blondie and tortures him via a march through the desert, but when the pair happen upon a dying Carson (Antonio Casale), only Blondie learns the exact location of the treasure. This makes him valuable and gives him a new lease on life.

Tuco impersonates Carson, and the three leads eventually meet up in a POW camp, where we learn that Angel Eyes pretends to be a sergeant in the Union Army. Various complications ensue as all three attempt to snag the cash.

A rather dark view of the west, Ugly has aged quite well. As I watched the graphics in its opening credits, I feared it might seem like a relic of its era, but that didn’t occur. Although the movie uses some vivid stylings, these fail to come across as period-specific.

Some of that stems from the movie’s cold cynicism, as this is the kind of flick in which killing happens easily and off-handedly. A scene in which a prisoner carries his own coffin to his execution and then gets unceremoniously dumped in it happens as an aside.

It’s just another way to demonstrate the rough brutality of the setting, and it works well. The movie offers occasional glimpses of humanity as well, especially via the interactions between Blondie and various soldiers. These manage to come across as natural and unsentimental.

Ugly doesn’t exactly pour on the plot, as the story remains rather simple. I didn’t regard that as a problem, though.

For one, most westerns feature basic tales that focus on moral issues. A rather cynical film, Ugly clearly doesn’t work from a place of obvious right or wrong.

Blondie acts as a true anti-hero. It’s more than slightly misleading that he represents the “Good” of the title, as he’s really a pretty nasty piece of work. For instance, when Tuco’s replacement in the reward scheme gets hanged, Blondie doesn’t exactly seem despondent.

At times the story feels more like a collection of vignettes than a coherent tale. Some of the bits integrate better than others, while some seem to have little to do with the overall plot.

For example, the detour to destroy Branston Bridge only moderately connects with the overall movie. Nonetheless, the elements fit well and don’t feel disjointed.

Eastwood does a simply splendid job as Blondie. He fits the anti-hero role well and brings a cold flintiness to the part that serves it well. Van Cleef also makes Angel Eyes suitably menacing and cold. Wallach seems a little broad as Tuco, but he comes across as appropriately sleazy and scummy.

Director Sergio Leone brings a sense of extreme stylization to the flick. He uses many quirky angles and odd cuts to create an unusual visual presentation.

Not exactly a chatty flick, we don’t hear a single line of dialogue until more than 10 minutes into the movie. It takes us about five minutes to recognize the influence the movie had on directors like Quentin Tarantino.

With a minimal plot and a long running time of nearly three hours, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly easily could have turned into a longwinded bore. However, that never occurs.

Instead, the movie goes by at a surprisingly brisk pace and seems quite entertaining. It’s a lively and enjoyable western that holds up very well after almost 40 years.

Note that this disc offers a version of Ugly that may seem unfamiliar to many fans. It restores about 18 minutes of footage originally cut in the Sixties.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a highly satisfying presentation.

Sharpness seemed fine. Only minor instances of softness materialized, so the majority of the flick brought us appealing delineation and accuracy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. With a solid layer of grain, noise reduction didn’t seem to become an issue, and I also noticed no print flaws.

In terms of colors, the film usually opted for a yellow/amber tone, though some green/teal also became a factor. Within those choices, the hues felt well-developed.

Black levels came across as pretty deep and firm, and low-light shots were also clean and neatly defined. I thought this was a strong transfer.

I felt less pleased with the remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, though it seemed adequate given the movie’s age and origins. The audio came from a monaural source, so the soundfield of the 5.1 mix opened things up, but not always in a satisfactory manner.

One problem occurred because the elements demonstrated very “speaker-specific” orientation most of the time. When speech came from the sides, it came hard from the sides.

The same also usually went for effects, so when the track tried to pan, it did so awkwardly and abruptly. This meant the result didn’t seem very natural.

Music showed acceptable stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed a little support. The rear speakers failed to play a strong role in the proceedings, though they occasionally added some unique elements.

Those mainly occurred during the sequences with battle elements, as the sounds of war might appear in localized parts of the rear. Otherwise, the track maintained a heavy emphasis on the front speakers.

Audio quality seemed lackluster, and most of the concerns centered around the dialogue. Like most Italian productions, it came with entirely looped lines.

These tended to blend poorly and often seem very obvious. Especially noticeable during some of the restored footage, some pieces showed bad synchronization.

In terms of quality, the dialogue usually lacked much edginess, but the lines never felt especially natural, as their looped nature gave them a “canned” feel. Still, the material remained easily intelligible, awkward as it sounded.

Effects felt about the same, as these elements seemed decent but unexceptional. Some distortion occurred and range usually didn’t sound great, though some re-recorded bits added punch.

Ennio Morricone’s famous score fared pretty well and showed reasonably nice breadth. All of this added up to an uninspiring but acceptable soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2004? Though the DTS-HD MA track showed a soundfield similar to that of the DVD’s lossy Dolby Digital mix, the former sounded cleaner and more vibrant.

Visuals demonstrated an obvious upgrade, as the Blu-ray seemed substantially better defined, cleaner and more film-like. This became a substantial improvement over the DVD.

Note that the Blu-ray includes a Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack, but it does not appear to represent the true original. Instead, it simply downconverts the 5.1 remix, which seems pointless to me.

The Blu-ray brings (mostly) old and (some) new extras, which open with two separate audio commentaries. Also found on the prior DVD, the first comes from film critic Richard Schickel, who offers a running, screen-specific chat.

Schickel’s done more than a few prior commentaries, but he tends to be pretty hit or miss. This one’s better than average for Schickel, as he offers a fairly useful look at the flick.

Schickel gets into a mix of subjects. He talks about Leone’s work in general and some specifics about Ugly. He relates notes about the collaboration between Leone and Eastwood and other bits connected to the cast.

Schickel chats about interpretation of thematic elements plus production subjects and other pieces. The conversation sags at times, especially during the second half, and Schickel also makes some sloppy errors such as when he claims Angel Eyes is the “ugly” character. Nonetheless, Schickel mostly gives us an informative examination of the creation of Ugly and other related elements.

For the second commentary, we get a new chat with film historian Sir Christopher Frayling. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, variations among different cuts of the film, sets and locations, music, cinematography and editing, costumes, themes, and historical notes.

Expect a pretty good look at the production here. Frayling covers an appropriate mix of subjects and makes this an informative discussion.

From there we go to a featurette called Leone’s West. This 19-minute, 55-second program offers interviews with Schickel, English language version translator Mickey Knox, producer Alberto Grimaldi, and actors Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach.

They get into the origins of spaghetti westerns and Leone’s flicks, Eastwood’s attitude toward the projects and his costumes, Wallach’s casting and initial impressions, memories of the shoot itself and the locations, dealing with language issues, Leone’s techniques, the spontaneous nature of the shoot and dubbing the flick, the movie’s lack of dialogue, and the Blondie character.

It seems somewhat scattershot as it flits from one area to another without much logic; it definitely doesn’t provide a tightly organized look at the movie. Still, it includes a fair amount of good information and keeps fluff to a minimum, so it deserves a look.

Next we find another documentary entitled The Leone Style. This 23-minute, 48-second piece gives us remarks from Eastwood, Knox, Schickel, Wallach, and Grimaldi.

They go over the film’s languid pacing, Leone’s visual preferences and picture framing, the influence of art and other directors on Leone, Leone’s working style, casting, violence, the lack of safety precautions on the set, historical accuracy, and various notes from the shoot.

Expect “Style” to resemble “West”, as it includes some nice material but doesn’t progress in a terribly logical manner. It moves through a good mix of issues and gets into useful topics, though, and it remains a lively piece.

In The Man Who Lost the Civil War, we find a 14-minute, 23-second discussion looks at the actual events that provide the background for Ugly. It examines the disastrous campaign led by General Henry Sibley.

Narrated by Morgan Sheppard, we learn of the plan to march along the Texas/New Mexico border and take various Union stores and forts all the way up through Colorado and eventually make it to California. The program follows the effort in a brisk and concise manner, and it offers a solid documentation of the events.

For a featurette on the film’s audio, we turn to Reconstructing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In this 11-minute, nine-second piece, we learn about the restoration of the original cut of the film. We hear from Wallach, Grimaldi, Triage Labs owner Paul Rutan Jr., and MGM Director of Technical Services John Kirk as they discuss the challenges involved in the movie’s restoration.

This includes a discussion of Techniscope concerns, new looping for the English dialogue, remixing and re-recording, and bringing back the excised footage. It’s a fairly decent examination of the actions taken to fix up Ugly.

Another featurette looks at the movie’s composer. Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly goes for seven minutes, 48 seconds as we get notes from film music historian Jon Burlingame.

He talks about Morricone’s early career and specifics of the Ugly score, with an emphasis on a few particular cues. Burlingame provides a reasonably concise exploration of the topics and makes this a somewhat dry but generally useful discussion.

Connected to this we find an audio-only piece in which music scholar Jon Burlingame provides an analysis of Morricone’s score. It runs 12 minutes, 26 seconds, as Burlingame chats about the origins of the collaboration between Morricone and Leone as well as more details about the composer’s work on Ugly. Burlingame seems more engaging here than during the prior featurette, as he details the audio nicely.

A pair of deleted scenes arrives next. This includes an “Extended Tuco Torture Scene” (seven minutes, 14 seconds) and a reconstructed version of “The Socorro Sequence” (3:01). The second one seems the most interesting, as it offers the greatest amount of new material.

In addition to the film’s original theatrical trailer, we get the movie’s French trailer. It proves unusual because it uses some alternate angles and cut footage.

Not found on the prior DVD, we locate five Vignettes. These fill a total of two minutes, 32 seconds and bring comments from Wallach and Eastwood.

Despite the odd title, the “Vignettes” offer outtakes from the interviews used in the disc’s other programs. They boast some fun info, brief as they may be.

One of the best Westerns ever made, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly remains a terrific piece of work. The movie presents a vivid sense of style with memorable characterizations and flies by despite its long running time. The Blu-ray gives us very good picture along with adequate audio and a nice collection of bonus features. Expect an appealing release for a classic film.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main