The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

After I got home yesterday, I watched the end of the Kansas-Davidson basketball game.  I didn’t think that the Davidson player got off a very good shot just before the buzzer.  Now we see that for the first time all four Number One seeds have made it into the Final Four.  Perhaps all those mindless people who picked the Number Ones in their office pools are set to win now.

I watched the first two episodes of Part II of Season 6 of “The Sopranos.”  The first episode was somewhat reminiscent of “The Godfather Part II,” with its setting on and around the water, and a feeling of fear that maybe Tony was set to kill someone who was like a brother to him.  Tony’s sister was as annoying as ever.  The second episode had a screening of Christopher’s thinly fictionalized movie “Cleaver,” which starred Danny Baldwin, since they couldn’t get Alec Baldwin.  At least they didn’t throw Adam Baldwin or Billy Baldwin or whichever Baldwins are still out there.

I watched “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”  It was supposed to be some sort of an extended version, but I couldn’t tell it apart from any previous version I’ve seen in the past.  The running time was nearly three hours, but I thought it was for the most part three pretty engaging hours.  The one sequence that I thought ran a bit long was the Civil War battle for the bridge.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty quick three hours.

Clint Eastwood plays the Good, called Blondie by Eli Wallach’s character Tuco, who is the Ugly.  The two have a scam going in which Blondie rides into a town with Tuco, turning him in to the local sheriff for award money.  The authorities take Tuco out to a tree with a noose and read out a list of Tuco’s crimes, which includes statutory rape, and get set to hang him when Blondie aims his rifle and shoots the rope and aids Tuco’s escapes to the next town of suckers.

Lee Van Cleef is the third man in the picture, the Bad, or Angel Eyes.  He leaves a trail of dead bodies as he seeks to find a hidden treasure of $200,000 in gold coins.  He determines that someone using the name Bill Carson has the money, and Blondie and Tuco stumble into this picture.

Being such partners in crime, there is something resembling a friendship between Blondie and Tuco, but there is a good amount of distrust and sadism in the mixture.  They take turns torturing each other, although Tuco is the one who seems to take pleasure in inflicting pain upon Blondie.  Eli Wallach has a loud and crass demeanor, and an openly greedy and self-centered quality that is rather humorous at times.  His personality certainly contrasts with those of Blondie and Angel Eyes, who are both definitely what you would call quiet types.  Tuco takes a certain animal pleasure in tracking down Blondie across the desert, arriving at his abandoned campsites in time to examine the campfires, and the cigar butts that Blondie leaves behind.  The trail gets warmer, and Tuco feels happier, set to get his revenge.

There is a lot of casual killing in this film, because the principals are men of action.  The philosophy is summarized by Tuco’s comment to one of his victims, “When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.”  The men in this story don’t do any monologing, like the villains in “The Incredibles.”

I also noticed that the word “puta” is used quite a lot in the movie.  Women have a low status in this picture.  This is a man’s world.

Ennio Morricone composed some of his greatest music for this film, not just the famous title theme, but also “The Ecstasy of Gold,” which plays at the beginning of the graveyard scene.

The Triangle of Trust sequence at the end is one of the classic moments in any Western.  The way it was shot and edited made it very suspenseful and tense.  It ranks with those great scenes in “Raging Bull” or “Psycho” in its mastery.

This movie may be the height of the teaming of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood.  I don’t recall a better movie that the two of them did together.  I remember that one of the movies followed the story of Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo.”

According to the DVD cover, Quentin Tarantino says that this is “the best directed movie of all time.”  I wouldn’t go that far, because Bergman and Renoir did a great job with some of their films.  Tarantino recently turned 45.  I think he’s spent too many hours watching the wrong kinds of movies, too trashy and meaningless.  I unfortunately can’t forget the image of his genitals melting away in “Planet Terror.”

Just as the A’s have two Opening Nights within one week, I’m getting two paychecks within one week.  I’m pleased that I’m getting enough money to pay my rent tomorrow.  Now to see how long the rest of the money will last.  I would really like to buy the Elvis Presley box set of 1960’s masters.  I listened to the fourth disc of 1950’s masters yesterday afternoon.  Some of the good songs on it were “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” and “A Fool Such as I.”  It ended with an interview with Elvis about what the Army was like.  At one point, he seems to be pondering attending college if the whole rock and roll career falls apart, which seems laughable now.  This contrasts with jokes Bruce Springsteen made on stage around 1978 about how his parents were still telling him he could go to college.  Springsteen said that one parent wanted him to be a lawyer, and the other wanted him to be an author, but tonight the two of them would just have to settle for rock ‘n’ roll.  That last comment naturally would arouse loud cheers from the audience.  Springsteen did have that one song called “I’m a Rocker” from his album “The River.”

This is my list of the Biggest Jerks of March 2008:

5. Todd Linden

4. Jose Canseco

3. Jeremiah Wright

2. Heather Mills

1. Eliot Spitzer.

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