Lee Van Cleef
From its very first shot, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY steps forward as a tribute to Leone's uncanny ability to create unforgettable characters through no more than a stare into a camera. What follows is a sequence lasting over ten minutes during which not a word is spoken. That is to say, not a word is spoken out loud, but thousands are uttered through glances, movements, angles, music and yes, gunshots. As all three main characters are introduced to us, the long and fascinating march towards the inevitable collision begins. Leone takes the luxury of time in order to prepare each of the eruptions of action that pepper the movie. At times, seemingly endless moments are spent patiently waiting for a reward lasting a few seconds. The flare-ups of violence however, though brief, are almost operatic in the way they're accompanied, not only by the grizzled men who perform them, but also by the score which at once sets the table and keeps the grub warm. Like predators on the hunt, the gunslingers lie quietly waiting, only to strike in a burst of speed and a flurry of lead.
Other than the opening introductions, many classic scenes fill this movie, among them the two desert confrontations between Tuco and Blondie (yes, the Man With No Name does have a name...) which ultimately lead to their discovery of the haunting wagon that will send them racing for the gold. The Civil War battle in which a bridge crossing a dried up sewer of a river sends scores of men to their death and of course, the face-off between three men whose will is only surpassed by their greed and who will gladly trade a few of their bullets for a few of those coins.
This edition also adds 18 minutes worth of footage to the film, all of which was included in the original 1966 Italian release, but cut from the 1968 American version. Eastwood and Wallach were called in almost forty years later to redub the lines in English and a stand-in was hired for the late Van Cleef. Amazingly enough, the scenes did add to the comprehension of the film and cleared up a few jumps in the plot that you had to assume in the previous version. Explained are the origins of Tuco's gang and some of Angel Eyes' hunt for a military battalion which may hold a piece of the puzzle. As a purist and a huge fan of the film, I was a tad suspicious about how all this would happen, but left thoroughly satisfied at the fact the film was in no way removed from the feelings it initially provided. It's a credit to the filmmakers and the three actors below that decades later, this film is still the very definition of cool and one that can be watched over and over and over again.
The Good... Clint Eastwood takes over where he had left off in FOR A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. The tall, lanky Man With No Name cuts a striking figure as the hero. It should be noted that the Man With No Name would, by no means, have been considered "good" had he not been compared to the other two. A double-crossing bounty hunter who keeps collecting reward money on criminals he frees himself and a man who has no qualms about the number of bodies he leaves behind, he becomes the classic anti-hero, admired for no more than the tons of charisma he oozes out onto the screen with his stern squint and demeanor.
The Bad... As Angel Eyes, a ruthless killer-for-hire whose greed knows no bounds, Lee Van Cleef put together a performance for the ages as one of the most cold-bloodedly evil bad guys ever. His icy stare and reptilian face were ideal to portray a man as far away from humanity as a movie character could get, while staying confined to our own planet. There's just something so delightfully fiendish about Angel Eyes that he, at once, eludes both other characters in terms of drawing out your feelings and in terms of channeling your hatred for him.
The Ugly... By far the most vociferous character in the entire trilogy, Eli Wallach's Tuco Ramirez becomes the link between Eastwood's hero and Van Cleef's heel. The glue that holds the trio together, Tuco goes from despicable to sympathetic so often, your feelings differ on what you wish would happen to him each of the many times he ends up with a noose around his neck.
Aside from the actors and the director, Ennio Morricone stands as one of the men who made this film as memorable as it is. The opening theme, which has by now become folklore, is a testament to a man who would go on to score several hundred other movies including many classics. The ones that will really get the blood flowing however are The Ecstasy of Gold (L'Estasi Dell'oro) and The Trio (Il Triello). Morricone's intense score, accompanying Leone's visuals and great performances by The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, make this a film for the ages and a tribute to the art of filmmaking.
Full-Length Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Schinkel: This is a fascinating track on which Schinkel discusses anything you can think of about the film (he does have three hours to do so...he'd better!) Although much of what he says about Leone's style, among other things, is well documented, he does have a few tidbits to share about how the whole thing came about. Naturally, it depends on what you think of the movie.
Leone's West (20 minutes): This is a brief "making of" feature on the film featuring some of the main players in the present day. Eastwood, Wallach and producer Alberto Grimaldi show up among a few others to share their memories of the movie. Much is discussed including how the three men were cast in the movie, some of the Italian/English dubbing, etc...
The Leone Style (25 minutes): A documentary about the late, great director in which the same men above talk about the man himself. Naturally, the focus is greater on THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and the rest of the "Dollars" trilogy, but you can also find out a bit about his other films.
The Man Who Lost the Civil War (15 minutes): A short documentary about Confederate General Henry Hopkins Sibley whose disastrous New Mexico campaign has been theorized as one of the reasons the south was defeated. He's referenced during the film, so it was nice to be able to add some historical authenticity to the movie.
Reconstruction The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (10 minutes): A feature discussing the voiceovers that were used to dub the extra footage in English. It had previously only existed on the Italian version so Eastwood and Wallach came in to redub and another actor stood in for the deceased Van Cleef.
Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, the Bad and The Ugly (20 minutes): Featurette on the master composer whose score is an inseparable art of what made this movie a classic. This discusses his role in the entire "Dollars" trilogy as well as other Leone movies. Following the featurette, you can listen to an audio-only discussion by music scholar Jon Burlingame about the score.
Deleted Scenes (13 minutes): There's only one really extended scene in here which is an extended version of the Tuco's torture at the hands of Captain Wallace (Mario Brega). The second one is a reconstruction through still and explanations of a scene which was never fully completed. Some of the shots from that scene can also be caught in the French Theatrical Trailer, which is included here and which is famous for using several alternate shots and others which never made it into the final cut.
You can also catch the American Theatrical Trailer, as well as a Posters Gallery and a couple of short Easter Eggs. If you click your remote left on the special features main menu, you'll get to hear a couple of anecdotes on the shoot by Eli Wallach.