14 May The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Characters Revisited
Most of us have already watched this classic at least once or twice in our lifetime. It’s a movie with longevity, it has passed the test of time. It still thrills when Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes stare each other down in the final duel. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit these great characters.
The ugly “Tuco”:
Tuco, the Mexican outlaw with a lust for loot. He’s hot tempered but still shoots straight when the chips are down. If you’ve wronged him in some way, say you left him in the desert to die, he won’t forget easily. No, he will track you down and make you pay! Unless of course you hold the key information to finding some obscure treasure box. Then he will suddenly turn into your best friend.
Tuco is the first character we meet in the movie. Three bounty hunters walk into his resting place thinking they will surprise him but three gunshots later they are all on the floor and Tuco makes a priceless breakneck escape through the window. This is the first sign we get that this character is driven much more by raw action than thought. Throughout the movie Tuco is boiling with energy, always moving forward.
At first glance he seems to be just a crazy guy hustling his way through life but we get to see a deeper side of Tuco when he takes Blondie to his brother’s church. Tuco and his brother Pablo have a talk, and Pablo tells Tuco that their parents are dead. This is the first time Tuco hears this, even though he earlier told Blondie that he had no parents. The talk between Pablo and Tuco turns into an argument over their upbringing and Tuco’s criminal lifestyle. It’s without doubt that Tuco is trying to run away from something. He is running away from his past, trying to cover it up by constantly seeking the rush of living dangerously. The chase for gold has become a running away from home of sorts.
Even though Tuco might be illiterate and impulsive, he is very resourceful and always manages to get himself whole skinned out of the most hopeless situations. Like when he pushes the guard he is handcuffed to off the train and crushes his skull on a rock. I bet you he probably both conceived and executed that plan within five minutes. He is not a man to think twice!
Tuco’s best line in the movie is from the scene where he is taking a luxurious bubblebath in a war wrecked town and a surviving bounty hunter comes in to kill him. The bounty hunter gives a long speech about the troubles he has had with Tuco after which Tuco shoots him dead with a gun hidden under the bubbles. “If you are gonna shoot then shoot, don’t talk”
Tuco says to the dead man lying on the floor. Pure direct action, pure Tuco!
Tuco starts out by wearing white cotton pants and shirt with suspenders and a big loose poncho vest on top. High cowboy boots and a Mexican sombrero with a red bandana underneath. Later when him and Blondie encounter Bill Carson in the desert, he switches to a grey Confederate uniform and Bill Carson’s eyepatch. Then when he and Blondie team up again to find the gold he wears brown jeans with black boots. A white shirt with a brown velvet blazer on top, and at times a dark grey striped duster on top of that. And of course also a classic brown leather cowboy hat.
The Bad “Angel Eyes”:
Smooth and cunning as a vampire, Angel Eyes is the perfect antagonist. We dislike him from the very moment that he slays half of that lovely family that was getting ready to eat lunch. We also fear him, as this action sets the mood for his character. A cold, calculated killer. If the pay is right there is nothing this man wouldn’t do. He seems to have only one code he’s living by. “If I’m paid, I see the job through”. The question lingers though, does he really feel a moral obligation to his employers? Or does he just really enjoy killing people? Something in his mischiveous smile suggests the latter.
The man is dangerous, no doubt about it. He use any means to get what he wants, like when he beats and tortures Tuco into telling which cemetery the treasure is buried at. But he is also smart. He has an intelligent cat-like face with sharp observant eyes that are always calculating and never missing a beat. He doesn’t torture Blondie because he knows that it won’t work on him, instead he offers him a partnership.
Sadly we don’t get to know any of Angel Eyes backstory. All we know is that he, Tuco and Blondie know each other from the past somehow. Nothing tells us how or why he became the man that he is, which makes his character a bit one dimensional, but maybe Sergio Leone just meant to keep him shrouded in mystery.
Except for the scenes in the prison camp where Angel Eyes wears a blue Union uniform, he pretty much wears the same clothes throughout the movie. Looking rather elegant for an outlaw, he is always dressed in black. Black boots, black pants, black shirt with a black vest on top and a black cowboy hat. The only two things that break the color scheme is a long white scarf he wears in the beginning of the movie and a short dark brown duster that he wears over his black outfit. Who said you couldn’t be a wild west outlaw and look sleek and stylish at the same time?
The Good “Blondie”:
We are introduced to this character when Blondie saves Tuco from three bounty hunters. After that they proceed to run their scheme of Blondie turning Tuco in for ransom money and then saving him by shooting down the noose when Tuco is about to be hung for his crimes. It works well until Blondie gets enough of Tuco’s complaining about the 50/50 split of the ransom money. After a job, he leaves Tuco in the desert to fend for himself. A not so good action by the good. However, throughout the movie Blondie lives up to his name as he for example forgives Tuco for horribly tormenting and almost killing him in the desert.
Blondie is of course played by Clint Eastwood, and he gives the character the same old stoic loner attitude. Blondie is a man of few words. He is contemplative but has the quickest draw and the sharpest aim in the wild west. He looks mean but don’t let the tough exterior fool you. His actions reveal a very empathetic character indeed. When the Union Captain is laying on his deathbed Blondie comforts him and when he encounters a young dying Confederate soldier he comforts him too, offering him a toke on his cigar. He could also easily have gotten rid of Tuco and with good reason too, no one would blame him for it, but he keeps him alive even though he is a constant threat.
He seems to be the only one of the three with morals, a tough burden to bear when you are an outlaw, but somehow Blondie makes it work to his advantage. He does make sure to settle his scores though. In the end he teaches Tuco a lesson he won’t soon forget as he leaves him standing on a flimsy grave marker with a rope tied around his neck. Just before slipping off and hanging himself, Blondie shoots the rope and Tuco falls down on to his share of the gold. A fair man indeed that Blondie, no wonder he became an icon. Who else could say something as cool as: ”In this world there are two kinds of people, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” No one but the man with no name himself.
This is the movie where Clint Eastwood wears the costume that he is most known for but before we even get to see it on the screen he wears some other ones too. When we first see Blondie he looks rather fashionable with a long light brown duster and white cowboy hat. Underneath the duster he wears dark jeans and a cool dark blue shirt with patterns. Later we see him with Tuco dressed in a grey Confederate uniform and then finally we get to see the real Clint Eastwood costume. Part of it is actually handed to him by Angel Eyes when they leave the prison camp. He wears dark jeans, a light blue shirt, a sheepskins vest and a brown leather cowboy hat. He also has a long duster on but he trades it for the legendary poncho that he finds lying next to the young dying soldier in the church. This completed the costume and the rest is history!