The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Parent Guide
An unforgettable soundtrack and a tense finale makes for a classic Western film.
Parent Movie Review
p>Blondie (Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (Eli Wallach) have a good thing going: Blondie rolls into town and claims the bounty on Tuco, and when it comes time for the hanging, Blondie shoots the rope on the noose and the two escape into the desert, splitting the money. Meanwhile, a mercenary called Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) is on the hunt for a missing Confederate officer and the whereabouts of $200,000 in gold. As their paths converge, Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco engage in a series of alliances and betrayals, each designed to get a step ahead in the hunt for the gold.
Perhaps the most famous star of this film is its soundtrack. Written by the inimitable Ennio Morricone, the theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly has become cultural shorthand for a showdown between grizzled gunslingers under a merciless sun. It is the shining archetype of its entire genre, emblematic of the Western film and everything that comes with it.
Of course, the soundtrack is not the only memorable part of the film. Standout performances from the entire lead cast make the unmanageable runtime significantly more justifiable. Although Clint Eastwood, as usual, does little more than scowl, grimace, and quip, that’s all anyone wants him to do in the film. Lee Van Cleef is, for my money, much more interesting – taking a certain dark joy in his bad behavior. Eli Wallach, of course, is screamingly chaotic throughout. Tight close-ups of each actor contrast with the desolate wide shots of the desert, helping each character feel much, much larger than life.
Against the brutal backdrop of the 1862 New Mexico campaign, the hunt for unimaginable riches and the squabbles between dangerous outlaws do little to reduce the violence. There wasn’t as much profanity to track as I usually have, so I spent my time running a body count. By my math, 22 people are directly killed on screen, with dozens more shown dead. There are a handful of mild profanities, and frequent use of tobacco and whiskey – all things you would expect in a Western. There is a little more blood than in some of the more “family-friendly” offerings, but by modern standards this is probably closer to a PG-13 than the Restricted rating it received. I’ve seen more gruesome violence in Marvel superhero movies.
This is not a modern movie – it is a relic of its own time, a 3 hour magnum opus, a love song to the wild west. Don’t expect The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to have much in common with fast-paced contemporary films. Just accept that the film’s leisurely journey to the conclusion makes the finale that much more dramatic. This is a case of a film being about the journey, not the destination - which is a darn good thing too, because if there weren’t anything worth watching for the first two-and-a-half hours, then there wouldn’t have been anyone left in the theatre for the dramatic showdown.Directed by Sergio Leone. Starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef. Running time: 178 minutes. Theatrical release December 23, 1966. Updated June 22, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly rated R? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is rated R by the MPAA
Violence: Many people are shot and killed. A person is hanged. Someone is beaten for information. A man repeatedly strikes a woman. An individual is killed with a rock. A dead body is shown being dragged by a train. A person is shown being executed by firing squad.
Sexual Content: There are non-descriptive references to rape and prostitution. A man is briefly shown naked in a tub, including posterior nudity.
Profanity: There are 11 uses of mild profanity and a single scatological term. There are several terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown smoking, chewing, and snuffing tobacco. Individuals are shown drinking alcohol, and some are depicted as drunken.
Page last updated June 22, 2020
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The Western genre has declined in popularity in recent years, but there are still a number of good options. True Grit, the 2010 remake of the original John Wayne film, is an excellent choice. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe star in 3:10 to Yuma, pitting a down-on-his luck rancher and veteran against an opportunistic criminal – all racing to make sure the criminal arrives in Yuma in time for the prison train. Christian Bale also stars in Hostiles, which addresses some of the racism and brutality which were endemic in western expansion.