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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The new blu ray edition of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is identical to the earlier
special edition version except for the added pixel count.

In general the image looks very sharp and colorful with the exception of the titles
and optical effects which are grainy with dirt printed in. However, considering how
this film was shot the results are quite good if not better than the original Technicolor
prints in 1968.

Techniscope took the standard 4 sprocket square frame used for pre-1953 motion
pictures and shot half of that. In other words they exposed a two sprocket wide
image which was half a frame. From this wide half frame image, they blew it up to
four sprocket 35mm anamorphic matrices and made dye transfer prints. Since a smaller
image was being blown up you would think the final release copies would be objectionably
grainy but since they were shooting in bright sunlight at very high f. stops for most of
the film it held up quite nicely. The real reason Leone used this process (aside from the
cost savings) was that neiter CinemaScope nor Panavision lenses could focus that tight
for the extreme close ups he utilized in all of his Spaghetti Westerns whereas standard
prime lenses could. Even the superior Panavision lenses would've distorted a bit or gone soft
for his eyes to chin shots that were unique at the time. 70mm could've focussed that close
but it would've been too expensive for the amount of footage Leone liked to shoot in his
pictures. Even though they look big budget they were actually inexpensive productions since
they were filmed in Franco's Spain. Franco 'rented' his army for battle scenes. Part
of the 'other worldly' appeal of this movie is that it doesn't look anything
like the area our Civil War was fought in. Leone also went out of his way to cast the ugliest,
rattiest looking people he could find for the supporting roles that are so filthy and sweaty
you can almost smell them. They certainly don't look like Southerners but that is all part of
the fun.

This version adds an extra 20 minutes from the European cut of the movie to expand the
running time to 179 minutes. The domestic release in 1968 was 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Nothing of major importance was incorporated although some plot holes were filled and
along with character nuance. The 5.1 re-mix is excellent and you would never guess that the
original version was mono. Since the sound effects were very exagerated to begin with,
every gunshot and explosion really blasts out of the track, often with a subwoofer kick.

One thing that has always intriqued me about the Leone films is how they were edited.
I have never been able to find out any information about it but consider this...

Leone filmed many takes of each shot but didn't have any sound recording equipment on
set. The movies were shot silently and later dubbed into various languages. I guess the
justification was that only the Americans spoke English. The rest of the cast spoke in
their native tongues which was Italian or Spanish. So on location everyone was speaking
in different languages for each take. It must've been very disorienting for the actors.

How did they edit it? Read lips and later dub it or first dub each take into Italian as a
reference and edit in that language. That would've been quite expensive for multible takes.
I'm guessing that they lip read the dialogue, cut it silently then dubbed during the various
mixes. Not one mix but many versions for each country. I wonder if the foreign tracks had all the
jokes and wisecracks of the American language release. Certainly a bizarre way of making
a movie.

The title is the best of Leone's "dollars" trilogy with an epic tale, massive production value,
campy acting, dramatic widescreen compositions and outrageous music by Morricone.
The final gun battle has been lampooned many times, most notably in "Get Smart".
Each time I see a classic I notice different things. This time I realized that the film
is really about the Eli Wallach Tuco character. He gets the most screen time and drives
the narrative. Eastwood and Van Cleef have supporting roles in comparison and react
to what Tuco does throughout the long story. Even at three hours, there appears to
have been some footage that is still missing. Tuco seems to know who "Angel Eyes" is
when they arrive at the Northern prison. However, in the film the never actually met
or encountered each other before that.

This is one of my all time favorite Westerns and the blu ray does justice to the film so
I highly recommend it although as I've mentioned before, you will be very exhausted
after the show.
 

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Ditto here Richard, GBU is one of my favourite Westerns. I've seen the DVD that came out not so long ago but not Blu-ray yet. It might be time to take a look soon.

So, I was never sure how it fit into the "Dollars" trilogy. Obviously Fistfull precedes For a Few Dollars More. Where does Good the Bad and the Ugly fit in?
 

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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter #3
In theory, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is the third 'dollars' film starring the Man with No
Name. In all three cases the plot was about a ruthless bunch of adventurers out for cash without
any morality or concern for human life.

Of course "The Man with No Name" was technically a marketing gimmick by UA since he had a name in the Italian versions and a 'nickname' in this picture. Part of the bizarre quirky nature of this
film is that Eli Wallach calls him "Blondie" even though he's not blond and has light brown hair.
The movies are so off the wall and strange somehow it doesn't matter. Lee Van Cleef doesn't
have a name and is referred to as "Angel Eyes". Also to classify Eastwood as "the Good" is equally
wacky since he's just as nihilistic as the others. I guess it's all a matter of degree in a Leone film. Eastwood is less scummy than the other two so in this off kilter worldview he's classified as the "good".
 

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The first time I saw this movie was when it was first shown at our local drive-in theater, which is now closed. I was a mere kid and my dad loved Clint's westerns. I remember going to see Two Mules for Sister Sara as well... maybe a few years later.

I own this on DVD and will admit... it is a bit long, but enjoyable none the less.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think you mean projected at the local drive in. I saw "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" in widescreen and Technicolor for the first time at The Elgin repertory cinema circa 1975. The
print was very scratchy but the widescreen made a major difference in it's appeal compared
to the pan/scanned TV version which was the complete theatrical version except for the swearing which was cut. I did see "A Fistful of Dollars" at a drive and it looked quite good considering the problems with the Techniscope process. I also saw the first dollars film on it's ABC premiere and was amused when
they added a new prologue filmed by the station itself to make the Man with No Name appear as
a hired bounty hunter rather than as the greedy, nihilistic gunman in Leone's version.
 

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Yeah... actually I meant to type "shown". :huh:

I am not sure which it was, but either this movie or Gone With The Wind was the first movie I ever viewed at a drive-in. How momma and daddy kept us kids still for that long of a period is beyond my remembrance. :blink:
 

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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter #7
And you probably saw "Gone with the Wind" in 1:85 rather than 1.33 at the drive in.
The first time I saw "Fantasia" it was shown like that at the Hollowbrook Drive In. Not
a good venue to see these films. However, Spaghetti Westerns were the perfect fare for
ozoners as were horror films like "Night of the Living Dead".
 

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I bought the blu-ray version of this film couple months ago (I also have the Special 2-disc Edition on DVD).

The Blu-ray is fine (but not great), and I'm not sure if the improvement in picture is worth it.
But for only $10, I'll say go for it.

* One of my favorite from Sergio Leone (also with "Once Upon a Time In the West",
and of course "Once Upon a Time in America").
 

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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter #9
Bob,

The extra pixel count is most evident when you project the film. So anyone who
has a DLP will notice the difference depending on how big a picture they project.
If you only have a large screen TV, the difference between the Special Edition
and Blu-Ray is not as obvious. This applies for most movies that have been
re-mastered in 4K with the latest transfer machines. The quality is so good it
bumps down to standard definition very nicely and the only real difference is
the pixel count.
 

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Hi Richard,

I fully agree with your above statement.

* My display (50" LCD rear projection TV at 720P) does not allow me to appreciate the true difference.

** And my funds don't allow me to get a true 1080P LCD front projector, like a Marantz, JVC, or Panasonic one.

Cheers,
Bob
 
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