Media

Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX

"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Synopsis

A Confederate soldier named Bill Carson has made off with $200,000 worth of the South's gold. Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) is the man hired to get it back. Tuco (Eli Wallach) and Blondie (Clint Eastwood) are unlikely partners who use Tuco's wanted status as a creative way to earn a living. After a rather harsh parting of ways, Blondie and Tuco stumble onto Bill Carson during his waning moments on Earth. With his dying breath Carson tells Tuco the name of the cemetary where he hid the gold. Carson dies while Tuco is fetching some water, but not before he gives Blondie the name of the grave where the gold is buried. In order to find the loot, Blondie and Tuco must put aside their differences and keep each other alive, which is no easy task with Angel Eyes, the Confederacy, and the Union all standing in their way.

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 1966, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 18 Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffre, and Mario Brega
  • Directed by Sergio Leone
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Sex: Brief Nudity
  • Language: No

Commentary

Sad as this may be, I had never seen this classic film until now. Having heard how great this movie was from many different sources, I went into it with high expectations. After the nearly three-hour journey, I was left scratching my head. Yes, Clint Eastwood was pretty cool as Blondie. Yes, the cinematography was amazing. Yes, the music was cool. However, what was with the cheesy voice-overs and lip-syncing? Was this a Chinese martial arts film? The actors appeared to be speaking in English in all of the scenes, so why couldn't they just record their voices? What was with all of the "Mexicans" being played by those of obvious Italian descent? Why film a western in Italy to begin with? I watched the movie with my wife, and we both found ourselves giggling (yes, I do giggle) at the silliness of these things. On the flip side, there were some pretty cool aspects to the movie, such as some fine acting and incredible shots of the land. I particularly liked the role of the "Alcoholic Union Captain," as he made you think about the senselessness of war and how thousands of men would be sacrificed for a spot on a map. I also enjoyed how the plot kept the three leads at constant odds with one another. Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed this film as it had an endearing degree of fun to it that you don't often see in a movie.

Technical

At first, I was surprised by how good the image looked for such an old movie. Colors were rich and vibrant, and there was some great depth to most of the shots. Close-ups in particular looked fantastic. However, as the movie progressed, I started noticing that in almost every long shot, there was almost no detail visible. Shrubs and trees looked more like green and brown blobs, with no individual branches or leaves visible. Apparently, there a lot of digital noise reduction (DNR) used in the encoding process in order to remove macroblocking and other artifacts. This is a real shame since the close up shots prove how good this movie could have looked throughout. Film grain was still apparent, as was dust and dirt in the print. There was one particular scene (where Blondie and Tuco are riding in the Confederate wagon) that showed some nasty examples of damage to the original film source, with yellowish-brown lines and haze through the shot.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio was a bit of a letdown for me. While I loved the musical score, I found the presentation to be very harsh and biting. I'm surprised that they didn't apply at least a touch of equalization in order to bring the excessive mid-range and treble down from the stratosphere. There was little use of the surround channels, but given the age of the film and the mono source, I can't really complain about that too much. Dialogue intelligibility was very good and there was some impressive bass scattered throughout the movie as well. The cannons and revolvers packed some real punch, particularly in the final battle over the river bridge.

Extras

This disc is well stocked with extras, though most of these were ported over from the last DVD release. There are audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, a featurette on Sergio Leone, a Civil War documentary, a look into the restoration of the film, a featurette on composer Ennio Morricone, and the original trailers (in HD).