Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good, Not Bad or Ugly

Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars-‘64, For a Few Dollars More-‘65, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly-‘66), all starring Clint Eastwood as the anti-John Wayne purty much imploded the then already mutating Western, with his operatic staging, pervasive amorality, and the all-encompassing tone of ironic fatalism. The Sergio Leone Anthology (MGM, $89.98) includes all three of these infamous efforts, plus the highly entertaining and sadly overlooked Duck, You Sucker (also known as A Fistful of Dynamite) from 1972, starring Rod Steiger and his over spiced accent as a Mexican baddie and James Coburn and his over saturated accent as an IRA explosives’ expert. Leone messes with space and time as much as the artier Italian filmmaker Antonioni ever did, but his constant use of tight, sweaty, close-ups and the ever hilarious contrast of the cigar-chomping monosyllabic Eastwood and his glazed ham Italian acting counterparts (dubbed, on top of it) puts these so-called spaghetti westerns into a gonzo category all on their own. It’s enough to make you truly sad, knowing full well that the odds of a master confluence like Leone and the Western ever happening again are stacked way too heavily.

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