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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Collector's Set

The Sergio Leone Anthology

Murder. Armed robbery. Arson. Perjury. Bigamy. Shooting his wife and children. Kidnapping. Extortion. A lifetime of transgression that'll net the captor of said acts $2,000. The man who loosed these horrible sins on the world is Tuco Benedicto Pacifico, a squat bandito brought to sputtering, fidgety life by Eli Wallach, and it's perhaps only in a Sergio Leone western that he'd not only be in on the profits of his own infamy, but emerge as the tale's most undeniably sympathetic character. And in a bit of prescient one-upmanship of his co-star, Clint Eastwood, Wallach's character is burdened with nary a whit of compunction with which to win the audience's affection. He's ingratiating by way of his gleeful, largely unchecked amorality, like a sun-baked, Tex-Mex Tommy Udo. Fans of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966) unfailingly point to Wallach's Tuco as the star of the show, and, in MGM's restored version of Leone's long-truncated classic, this character has scurried even more prominently to the fore, overshadowing the iconic likes of Eastwood's laconic Blondie and Lee Van Cleef's brutal "Angel Eyes"; an understandable indulgence since Leone had already given these actors their chance to shine — Eastwood with his star-making turn in A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Van Cleef impressing as the haunted bounty hunter in For a Few Dollars More (1965). But this emphasis does skew the film's moral compass in a more cynical direction than in any other Leone work, rendering it a corrosive epic of venality in which, as many critics have noted, there is precious little separation between its trio of archetypes. They're all on the grift; it's just a question of who and how many they're willing to kill to reap a windfall. When the sum rises to $200,000 worth of gold, nothing less than the raging westward expansion of the American Civil War will stand in their greedy path. What follows is the classic three-way showdown for the rights to the fortune, which would play as laughably absurd in anyone's hands, even an unabashed Leone disciple like Quentin Tarantino, who would be unavoidably forced to work a self-conscious anything-for-the-love-of-movies chuckle out of the arrangement. Not Leone. He means it. With the possible exception of the later Duck, You Sucker, no film in his depressingly thin canon better exemplified his scathingly cynical worldview than The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In the end, the title is an obvious joke; when money's to be made, man, good or bad, is ugly to his core. Tuco's closing rebuke to Blondie is Leone's admonishment to the audience: "Do you know what you are? You're all stinking sons of… [cue Morricone's theme]!" MGM presents The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in an excellent anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (one can also access the film's original Italian monaural track). Extras on the two-disc set include a feature-length commentary by Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel and five featurettes including "Leone's West" (20 min.), "The Leone Style" (23 min.), "The Man Who Lost the Civil War" (15 min.), "Reconstructing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" (11 min.) and "Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" (8 min.) Also on board are two deleted scenes, a poster gallery, and the original English and French theatrical trailers. Dual-DVD keep-case. Also available in the eight-disc digipak "The Sergio Leone Anthology."
—Clarence Beaks

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