Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Sunday Scene #1 TGTBATU

This is the first post of a spanking new FilmsrRuss feature. In true High Fidelity style, I have often thought about what my favourite cinematic moments are; so I thought that this would be excellent material for a series (plus all the cool kids are doing this kind of thing!).

So this is the first of (hopefully) many in a series I will call The Sunday Scene. No, not descriptions of arguments around the Sunday dinner table! Each week I will introduce a scene from a film, one that sums up everything that is great about the film and say why I think it is so cool (or perhaps naff). So, without further ado, I will launch into my first scene.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I completely love this film, especially the last half an hour; but to pick one scene I would have to have go with the final standoff between Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco. Everything about it is just brilliant. For a start there is another of Ennio Moricone's wonderfully atmospheric compositions:

Ennio's music is as synonymous with the spaghetti westerns as Clint himself. Setting the confrontation in a graveyard is very fitting given that someone is likely about to die; the mass of untidy graves a reminder of the "many men wasted so badly" as Blondie observes earlier in the film.

Leone's shooting style comes to a climax during the final shootout; he cuts between all three characters, firstly portrait, then head shot, then the gun belt, then behind the characters, before closing into the faces and finally the eyes. As the music speeds up, the cutting between the characters also become more frenetic, cranking up the tension. All the hallmarks of Leone; and it's ace!

Without doubt Eli Wallach's "Tuco" is the best thing in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Blondie is cool, Angel Eyes is mean, but Tuco is always desperately trying to assess the gravity of the situation, with his shifty eyes constantly looking for his best way out. The shoot-out is no exception. Every time the camera focusses on his eyes, they are open wide constantly trying to second guess the other two protagonists. The look that he gives Angel Eyes as he lowers his pistol on a bit of string is fabulous; letting him know that this isn't just a two-person shoot-out; do not underestimate Tuco.

When the climax finally comes, the end result is perhaps not so surprising, but everything is done in Blondie's cool, inimitable style that you don't feel cheated by the result. The scene really demonstrates that some of the most memorable moments in cinema don't have to be complicated; here the characters are filmed, not speaking, not moving very much, and a great music score is played, and that's it. But it works so perfectly.

Fantastic film, and a fantastic scene that makes me grin stupidly every time I watch it.

You see, in this world there's two kinds of people my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.


  1. You are loving the Western at the moment hey Russ?

    I must admit I haven't seen this for a very very very long time.

    Great images too matey

  2. Scott: I am loving the westerns just now, though I didn't actually watch this before this post; it's just one of those films I loved for ages. I haven't seen it for ages either, though I found out yesterday that my local picturehouse cinema is showing it on Thursday! Hoorah! Unfortunately it's at 4 pm when I'll still be at work. Hooroo! :(

  3. Now it's me who has been rubbish! I love this new series, Russ.

    When I was looking for inspiration for my Musical Mondays post I came across this one. My brother and dad used to watch all the old Clint Eastwood films. Morricone's music is perfect and the pocketwatch's song is haunting.

  4. Cheers Claire. Morricone certainly has done written some iconic tunes; as well as Sergio Leone films his scores to Cinema Paradiso and The Thing are also great.