By far the most ambitious, unflinchingly graphic and stylistically influential western ever mounted, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an engrossing actioner shot through with a volatile mix of myth and realism. Clint Eastwood returns as the "Man With No Name," this time teaming with two gunslingers (Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef) to pursue a cache of $200,000and letting no one, not even warring factions in a civil war, stand in their way. From sun-drenched panoramas to bold,hard close-ups, exceptional camera work captures the beauty and cruelty of the barren landscape andthe hardened characters who stride unwaveringly through it. Forging a vibrant and yet detached style of action that had not been seen before, and has never been matched since, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly shatters the western mold in true Clint Eastwood style.
This two-disc special edition presents the restored, extended English-language version of Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, now clocking in at almost three hours. It includes some 14 minutes of previously cut scenes, with both Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach returning to the editing suite in 2003 to add their voices to scenes that had never before been dubbed into English (Wallach's voice is noticeably that of a much older man in these additional sequences). The extra material contains nothing of vital importance, but it's good to have the movie returned to pretty much the way Leone originally wanted it. The anamorphic widescreen picture is now also accompanied by a handsome Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, making this the most complete and satisfactory version so far released.
Film historian Richard Schickel provides an authoritative and engaging commentary on Disc 1. On the second disc there are featurettes on "Leone's West" (20 mins.), "The Leone Style" (24 mins.), and "Reconstructing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" (11 mins.), plus a documentary about the historical background of the Sibley campaign, "The Man Who Lost the Civil War" (15 mins.). In addition, there's a two-part appreciation of composer Ennio Morricone, Il Maestro, by film music expert John Burlingame. Tuco's extended torture scene can be found here, along with a reconstruction of the fragmentary "Socorro Sequence." In short, exemplary bonus features that will satisfy every Leone aficionado. --Mark Walker