(1964) dir. Sergio Leone
In preparation for watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at the Castro Theater as part of our Monday Night Movie Club, we decided to watch the first two films of what is now referred to as Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name Trilogy”. I had, of course, seen this film before and really loved it, but it had been some time since I had seen it all the way through. It’s still an excellent film.
I am always amused by the fact that this film was essentially a period Western adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 period samurai film Yojimbo, which was an open adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel of political corruption and private detectives, Red Harvest. And even more amusing is the fact that Walter Hill’s Last Man Standing (1996) adapted the story back to the gangsters of the American 1930’s, forgoing the source material.
Seeing it again, I have to say, it’s still a great deal of fun, though the direction isn’t quite as over-the-top as I always imagine it to be (seems that impression really is latent from the finale rather from this initial installment). Though, it must be said, there are some awesome framings that always really appeal to me. I like the way that Leone frames a really intense close-up contrasted with an image in the background, i.e. a huge boot fills the bulk of the screen while the smaller part of the screen shows a figure down the street, reacting to the implied foreground giant.