Friday, 16 January, 2004

Spaghetti westerns

I've spent the last four days suffering from either a terrible cedar allergy attack, or some sort of flu.  There's not much to do when I'm feeling that way.  Read a mindless novel, surf the Web, or watch old movies is about the extent of my mental capabilities when my head's pounding and I'm hacking and wheezing.  And if that's not bad enough, it plays hell with my bicycle training schedule.

Today I finally sat down and watched The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the last of the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone "spaghetti Westerns."  I picked up all three of them (A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More are the other two) in a set at Target a couple of months back.  I'd seen all three of them before, of course, but it'd been years.  Having now watched all three of them again, I've gained a new appreciation for what Leone did with these three movies:  he redefined the Western.  Prior to the release of A Fistful of Dollars, most Westerns featured a protagonist who was just too good to be true.  The movies were full of moral lessons and sugar coating that made the West look like a civilized place that was just a little bit dirty.  Leone's interpretation is, I think, much closer to reality.

Of the three movies, I liked the second one (For a Few Dollars More) the best.  The addition of Lee Van Cleef works, and many of the rough spots from the first film were worked out.  The last film, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, was too long, a little too silly in places, and overdid it with the "spooky" sound effects and music.  I realize that the characters in all three movies were somewhat over the top, but they were too far over the top in the last movie.  All in all, they're still wonderful movies, and well worth having in your collection.