The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
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The Western was a genre in decline when Sergio Leone came along and gave it a shot of adrenaline in the mid-60s. In a few short years, the director singlehandedly established the Spaghetti Western, made several of the most highly regarded Western films in the history of cinema, and launched the film career of Hollywood superstar Clint Eastwood.
The third instalment in what is known as the Dollars Trilogy, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ continues the stylisation Leone established in ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964) and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ (1965) – vast desert landscapes; tight close-ups on harsh, gritty faces; and a whole lot of violence – as the three titular outlaws go on a lengthy quest to retrieve a stash of gold.
The tense drama of the film is greatly enhanced by Ennio Morricone’s inventive score, whose inclusion of whistling and gunshots in its orchestration is a hallmark of the composer’s several collaborations with Leone. The film’s final Mexican standoff is truly unforgettable, as much for its drawn-out, meticulously constructed take on the classic Western scene as for its soaring trumpet solo. The soundtrack was a hit in its own right, and is considered among the best film scores ever written.