Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Hellbent for Letterbox: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
In this episode, Pax and I finish Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy with the epic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. It's the longest of the trilogy, but is it the best? And how does it fit in with the other two?
Tune in as we hash that out, right after a discussion of the Weird Western comic The Sixth Gun, William R. Cox's novel The Gunsharp, the 1967 film Hombre, DC's Justice Riders, and "The Origin of Kid Colt" from Kid Colt, Outlaw #170.
All this and listener mail!
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An epic piece of work, gentlemen! 1966. I was 17 for most of that year (I turn in October), and missed the first two installments. Don't remember why, but I have since seen them, and this is the one that has stayed with me. It has always felt to me like the film that changed what the western was, though of course there were many factors beyond this one movie. A couple of points, then...
Eli Wallach was incredibly gifted and versatile, sort of a Robert Duvall or Val Kilmer of his day, in that he became his character so thoroughly that you almost didn't recognize him from one film to the next. He played a number of nationalities and ethnicities, and to the best of my knowledge, nailed them all. You guys may be too young to remember him as Calvera in 1960's The Magnificent Seven. There he played another Mexican bandit to the hilt, and set Steve McQueen up for what was surely one of the top five lines in cinema. He and his gang have come face-to-face with the seven for the first time, and he makes a pitch to Yul Brynner to join him, and together "we can rule this land like kings." Brynner, always a man of few words, tells him to "Ride on." "Ride on?" he repeats, astounded at the audacity, then turns to McQueen, standing beside Brynner, thumbs hooked in his belt, and says something to the effect of, "How about you, you like gold, yes?" To which McQueen replies, "We deal in lead, friend."
I really like your take on the trilogy being disconnected tales of Eastwood's character told through different eyes. It makes a lot of sense, and I'm disappointed in myself that I never thought of it. I guess that's what we have you for. There are two kinds of people on this internet. Those who have podcasts, and those who learn from them.
Great piece of work, both of you!
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