There are very few actors with a career as long as Eastwood’s, and for the ones that do, very few can say they made as many good movies as Eastwood has. From the toughest damned cowboy you’ve met to an Orang-utan owning prize fighter to the toughest damned cop you’ve ever seen, Clint has rocked it.
I know the blog is called I Like Bad Movies, but if you’ve read it long enough, you know that the truth is, I just plain like movies. So, don’t go thinking these are bad movies, because they are not – you’ll know when I watch a bad movie, and I don’t think that’s happening this week.
Yep, this is going to be a damned good week.
Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars(1964),For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966))
Sergio Leone is/was the King of Spaghetti Westerns, and with The Man With No Name Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), he might just deserve the title of King of All Westerns, in general.
This is the series of films that took a small time, little known TV actor by the name of Clint Eastwood and made him a house hold name. In each movie he seems to go by a different name (Monco, Blondie and Joe), but is best known as the Man With No Name, a bounty hunter that proves that the good guy in a movie doesn’t always really have to be that good of a guy – an anti-hero, I guess. Two of the movies (For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), costar Lee Van Cleef, the flint eyed leathery veteran of countless Spaghetti Westerns before and after this series. All three movies are scored with the incredible music of Ennio Morricone.
Visually stunning in their bleakness, Sergio paints a picture of a ruthless West filled with bandits and regular people, Rich man and poor men. And one thing in common for everyone is that they are trying to make a living in the west. Eastwood, in each of the films plays a cigar smoking, tall, quiet, solitary character who is quick and accurate on the draw, and if you have a bounty on your head, you’d be best to steer away from him.
Each of these movies stands alone – that is, you don’t have to watch one to follow the other, and I guess they’re not really sequels, but bound together in spirit. They are not just good Spaghetti Westerns, not just good Westerns, but actually great movies in their own right. While (re) watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, I was stunned by just how complex a movie it really is. Not only is it a kick ass western, but it even tries to come to grips with the horror that was the American Civil War. There is a strangely poignant scene where Blondie is walking through the area where a battle between the Union and the Confederates had just happened – coming upon a dying soldier, shivering, Blondie wraps his coat around him and gives the man a draw from his cigar, just before the soldier dies – This didn’t have to be in the movie, but it’s little things like this that elevates these movies above the rest.
So, don’t watch these movies if you’re looking for a light, fluffy watching experience – Watch these movies if you want to see great movies with great actors in great roles. I’m of the opinion that even if you don’t like Westerns, if you watch these film with an open mind, you would still like them.
Watch these movies and watch them often.
A Fistful of Dollars Trailer
For a Few Dollars More Trailer
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Trailer
Beyond The Law (1968) – A Coolness Only Lee Van Cleef Could Deliver (Entire Movie at Bottom of Post)
One of countless Spaghetti Westerns that surfaced in the 60’s and early 70’s, you might not even know this one existed – I didn’t, until recently, that is. You see, about a year ago I purchased a DVD set, titled. “Spaghetti Westerns” that is chock full of Western goodness (and badness to be honest). It’s a five disc set that includes 20 movies – Beyond the Law was one of them.
Beyond the Law tells the story of a group of bandits that dupe a mining company of the cash it is having delivered to pay the wages of the miners. Through deception, the actual crooks look like heroes, and are actually asked to help out. The brains of the unit, Billy Joe Cudlip (played by Lee Van Cleef), befriends Ben Novack (played by Antonio Sabato), at first pitying him and then gaining respect for his abilities as the movie goes on. Soon Culdip and his gang is helping protect the mining operation from a gang, controlled by the villain, Burton (played by one time muscle man turned actor, Gordon Mitchell).
Gaining respect, Culdip is asked to become the new Sheriff, kind of ironic…really. He takes the position, much to the chagrin of the members of his small band of thieves, especially when they realize that he might just be taking the job seriously.
As noted at the beginning of this post, this is far from being a perfect film, but Lee Van Cleef raises it up and makes it entertaining. Also, the theme song is simply amazing. If you already like Spaghetti Westerns, then this one will be okay – If you are on the fence about the genre, then maybe leave this one be and try something like a Fist Full of Dollars or God’s Gun.
Here is the trailer:
And, for as long as it lasts, here is a link to the whole movie (let me know if it stops working):
In the 1960s there was an explosion of Westerns made in Italy by Italian film makers. These were dubbed “Spaghetti Westerns” and are/were the Western equivalent of Grindhouse films, and while most of these movies were pretty damned bad, occasionally one would actually turn out to be a good movie – 1967’s Death Rides a Horse is one of those good ones.
Starring John Phillip Law as Bill Meceita, a man seeking revenge on the bandits that he witnessed killing his family when he was a young. The only evidence he was able to gather, as a boy. was a single, unique spur that one of the murdering bastards left behind. Years later a recently released convict, Ryan, played the always great, flinty eyed Lee Van Cleef, kills two men in self defense that were sent to kill him. The Sherriff noticed that one of the dead men was wearing spurs that exactly match the one that had been left at the scene on the Meceita family massacre so many years before. The sheriff informs Bill, and tells him the name of the stranger, Ryan thinking that perhaps Ryan can help lead him to the men who killed his family.
When Bill catches up to Ryan, he finds him sympathetic but not willing to help, as he has a large amount of money owed to him by the same bastards that killed Ryan’s family, and if Bill kills them, Ryan can’t collect. Leaving Bill temporarily stranded (in order to gain a head start), but not defenseless. Of course this only works for a bit as Bill is extremely motivated to get these guys. Ryan is looking at collecting $15,000 from each member of this gang, as he spent 15 years in prison for something they ALL took part in. Bill, killing these guys, makes it harder and harder to collect. Add to this a sub plot where one of these banditos is now a town official, promising to improve the lives of the town folks, but actually planning on taking off with all the town’s money, in a faked heist, and making it look like Ryan is part of it. Bill comes to Ryan’s aid, and for the rest of the movie they work together as a team. An interesting twist near the end makes the relationship between Bill and Ryan even more twisted. Add in some great shootouts and you have this film.
This is a long movie, and the conversion from film to digital (at least the version I have), is very crapilly done. There are bit where you can tell a few seconds of film are just missing. It’s dirty and very low resolution. Some of the actors voices are very obviously dubbed (hey, most of them were bit part Italian actors working for very little money) and not particularly great thespians. Even so, this movie oozes cool, especially with an awesome soundtrack from the amazing Ennio Morricone I absolutely enjoyed every second of this film and most likely will go on a minor Spaghetti Western binge.
And… we’re in luck folks: Not only is this movie available for really cheap on almost countless cheap bin DVD compilations, it’s also available for streaming for free (for now at least).
Check out the trailer below and the entire move below that (please let me know if the link is broken):
Death Rides a Horse (1967) – Trailer
Death Rides a Horse (1967) – The Entire Movie