Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek
benpeek

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Extended Version.

I've always been a fan of the Leone westerns. The images of those close ups on faces, the wide shots of plains, and the cool, silent, quick on the draw and morally grey Eastwood of the Dollars Trilogy is one of those things that worked its way deep into my mind and left little eggs.

(The result of those eggs can be found, currently, in my short stories featuring the characters Allandros and Balor, in a mix of westerns, Leiber sword and sorcery, and a bit of steampunk.)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is not my favourite of the three Dollars films. I like it a whole heap, and I think Eli Wallach is absolutely fantastic in the film as the down and out bandit Tuco, who is always getting the rough end of the stick in his deals with Eastwood and van Cleef, but my favourite is For a Few Dollars More, though only just. And maybe, on a different day, I'd lean towards The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or even to For a Few Dollars More. At any rate, I like them, and the idea that someone released a new version of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with eighteen minutes of new footage, and with Eastwood and Wallach coming in to dub their voices, was one of those things that had my interest (and money) straight out.

If you haven't seen the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, then the film, in it's simplest version, is about three men, Tuco (the Ugly), Angel Eyes (the Bad), and Blondie (the Good). There has never been a Man With No Name in the films, though it is a nice conceit; but the truth is, Eastwood's character has had a different name in each film, and in this one, is referred to Blondie. In it, both he and Tuco learn parts of information to buried gold, and set out after it, where they learn that van Cleef's Angel Eyes is chasing the gold, too. There's more to the film, but if you haven't seen it, it's a bit of a spoil to tell you.

The downside to the original film, was that parts of it didn't make sense. Why is van Cleef waiting for them in the prison camp? Where does Tuco get the men from? The extended scenes resolve these questions. They do not add any spectacular new fight scenes, though Tuco's torture scene is extended, and there are no new vistas. Rather, it's about the narrative of the story, and the film, as a response, feels much more solid than it did before, especially in the first half, where most of the trimming had taken place.

However, the downside to these additions is the voice dubbing. While it's a fine thing that Wallach and Eastwood came back, and excellent for the production to find a voice actor to pass as van Cleef, it is easy to pick the changes. With Eastwood and Wallach, it's a matter of age. They're old men, now, and their voices have changed, which is only natural. With van Cleef... well, there isn't much in an addition for him, and in some scenes, you'll be hard to pick it, but in others, it's just not his voice, simple as that.

It's a minor irritation for the extended print, however. I'd glad sit through more of these issues if someone released that supposed four hour cut of the film that Leone initially had, and if the film came with the fine little documentaries that this edition as come with, which includes interviews with a very relaxed Clint Eastwood, and an intelligent, articulate Eli Wallach.
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