Monday, April 14, 2008

Movies: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Clint Eastwood is pretty sexy, but even his good looks don't warrant three hours of watching in this baggy-at-the-knees Western. Don't call me a young punk; I know it's a classic. That doesn't mean it's any good.

The initial premise is great: three different men (a "good" one, a "bad" one, and an "ugly" one) each want to collect $200,000 in gold coins hidden in a graveyard. The problem is that only the ugly one knows which graveyard, and only the good one knows which grave. Over the course of the movie, they try to beat and trick it out of each other, while the Civil War rages around them, adding extra mishaps along the way.

Despite the fact that the only good thing about the good guy is that he's the good-looking Clint Eastwood (his character is actually a con man and a scoundrel, even if an endearing one), that the movie is totally racist (the ugly one, of course, is a Mexican, who's as weak, stupid, and conniving as Mexicans were in the 1970s), and that whoever did the makeup for Eastwood's sunburn was an idiot, this still could have made an excellent hour-and-a-half movie. The penultimate scene, in which the good and the ugly conspire to blow up a bridge and thus clear the surrounding battlefield for privacy at the graveyard is the most infuriating: a climax deferral that distracts from what Westerns are all about: individuals shooting each other (that is, individuals, and not armies); conversely, the scene a bit before that, in which the good and the ugly conspire to kill all of the bad's lackeys in a dusty war-torn town, is great.

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