The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is one of my favorite films of all time. It is a movie of powerful images that puts even the best to shame, an epic picture that understands that a quiet moment between two people can be just as big as a battle between thousands. It is a film that has parts that are so drop-dead cool that it seems nearly sacrilegious for other films to even try and approach them. It’s the movie where Eastwood confirmed he wasn’t going anywhere, Eli Wallach proved that you didn’t have to be a star to achieve cinematic immortality, Lee Van Cleef proved so smooth that even Han Solo stole a couple of his moves, and Sergio Leone proved for once and for all that he was one of THE cinematic visions of the last half of the 20th century. But most of all and most importantly, it was a hell of alot of fun, and incredibly cool.
What’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly about? Well that’s just the thing - I can’t tell you without making it feel small. The official line says it's about three men searching for a lost fortune in Gold. That however, fails to even scratch the surface of the picture, not even touching the vignettes and subplots that orbit the main story like moons orbit a planet. During the course of the film the three men also carry out assassinations, fight for both sides of the civil war, scam innumerable towns with an ingenious bounty scheme, destroy both a bridge and a city that get in the way of their battles, travel through the desert on an odyssey that seems more like a tone poem then a film, and just generally tear up the world.
This disc is a new cut, which now runs a full 3 hours. The new footage really doesn’t hurt the film and is interesting in itself, but I think I will always prefer the original cut, if for nostalgia purposes alone. Some of the new scenes required that Eastwood and Wallach return to the studio to dub their own voices for the new bits, and for the most part they do a nice job. The only real sticking point comes from the new Van Cleef scenes - while the man doing the voice is a talented imitator, there is no getting around the fact that he is not the original and thus some of the Van Cleef cool is sadly lost.
Dear Richard Schenkel - PLEASE STOP. I’m sorry, I don’t know what I did to you, how I harmed or offended you, but you win. Please stop it now. Stop recording dull as dust, listless, anemic, obvious, insightless commentaries on my favorite movies. It was bad on Unforgiven, it was excruciating on Once Upon A Time In America, but here you have hit an all time low. If you want to tell me that your commentaries are dry because they are academic let me correct you:
1) To be academic you must say something that is worth thinking about
2) Ebert does academic commentaries that are full of excitement and pure love for film. They are some of the few commentaries that I enjoy watching multiple times. Meanwhile, you look at films like they are a particularly nasty piece of road kill on the side of the highway. Please, for the love of god, stop now.
Next is the documentary “The Man Who Lost The Civil War” which focuses on Confederate General Sibley who drew the fighting into the west. This documentary is very cool, and probably the most useful and interesting on the disc. Other extras include a couple of deleted scenes, and a few featurettes on the music and rerecording sessions. All in all it is a nice disc release, with the exception of a horrid commentary.