TV & Movie Reviews

How The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Redefined The Western Genre

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is one of the best movies of all time. It’s an epic story of murder and betrayal set in the wild west. It follows three cowboys in Civil War Era America all looking for buried treasure worth an estimated $17 million in today’s currency. Clint Eastwood leads as Blondie, the late and great Eli Wallach plays Tuco, and the excellent actor Lee Van Cleef plays the dastardly Angel Eyes.

Starting in the 1940’s, it became very profitable for Hollywood Studios to invest in cheap Westerns. It was relatively cheap to send a cast and crew to a desert for a month, and if the movie were to be successful, it would mean big returns for the studio. Unfortunately, this meant a lot of bad Westerns; boring stories with little conflict. There were also some great movies, take a look at the work by John Ford, but chances are if you remember a Western from the 1940’s through the 1950’s, it was one of the rare great ones.

Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone tried to challenge this, and to bring a sense of realism, and a sense of darkness to his movies. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the third movie in a trilogy that has been nicknamed “The Dollars Trilogy” looks to break the norms of a lot of these forgettable Westerns. It was truly a dark movie, with murder for the sake of murder, and betrayal for selfish reasons. Upon its release, critics were taken aback by the violence and the immoral characters. However, Leone was only trying to make an accurate movie. The Civil War Era was not a glamorous time, yet a lot of movies try to glamorize it. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly sets out to make an accurate depiction of war and does that perfectly.

In the following video, I break down how The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly challenged the norms of the Western that had been established over the past few decades. I look at morality or the lack thereof of the three main characters, the iconic shootout that has gone down in history as one of the best movie moments ever. If you enjoy the video, please consider subscribing.


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