Though it has to forever compete with The Searchers and High Noon, few Western films will ever have the impact of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, the final film in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” and the most famous Spaghetti Western of all time. It catapulted Clint Eastwood to super-stardom. Also, it changed the way countless directors thought about the genre and continues to influence film to this day.
The Theme Song
The movie wouldn’t have been more dramatic and classic without its all-time famous soundtrack.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was composed by Ennio Morricone, who scored several Leone films in the 1960s. As issued on the 1967 soundtrack album, the main title of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is an effective classic, starting with heartbeat rhythms, perhaps to mimic Native American patterns.
The main hook, however, is the fluttering repeated riff, done in a whistling way by various instruments. This includes actual whistled wordless vocals and haunting and evocative of open but slightly threatening landscapes. The riff gives way to ultra-twangy guitar and Morricone’s use of trademark creepy chanted vocal arrangements. When the main motif reappears, the rhythm has sped up to a horse’s gallop, with women scatting the riff in a yet more disquieting fashion. Then a bugle enters with a grand fanfare, gunshots are heard, and it’s time for a yet faster gallop through the main theme, now almost seeming to verge on losing control, like a horse breaking free of its cart.
The movie plot
Three whiskered, weather-beaten men stand to face each other, alone in a huge cemetery. They exchange suspicious glances and remain almost perfectly still, not saying a word. The stare-off continues for two and a half minutes. Do you remember these scenes? You got it right, that’s from the final scenes of the all-time favorite cowboy movie.
The movie rolls around three men – a quiet loner, a ruthless hit man and a Mexican bandit – who comb the American Southwest in search of a strongbox containing $200,000 in stolen gold.