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| | |-+  The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Vulnerable
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Author Topic: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Vulnerable  (Read 1406 times)
tokyorose
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« on: July 27, 2007, 05:42:23 PM »

It has been said that you can gauge the morality of Leone’s characters by the way they treat (or mistreat) children.  I think the same can be said of the way they treat women, or anyone who is vulnerable.

Angel Eyes’ cold, brutal evil is aptly demonstrated through his behaviour towards women and children.  He leers threateningly at the picture of Stevens’ family, implying that he would kill them all in order to get what he wants.  He does shoot Stevens’ young son, and we see Angel Eyes at the scene’s end through the lens of the woman’s horror.  Later, Angel Eyes beats Maria mercilessly (a scene Lee Van Cleef had to be doubled for, as he found it too traumatizing!) though she is a small woman and has obviously already suffered at the hands of her Confederate “customers.”  There is no need for the caption “the Bad” when we see scenes like these.

Tuco has very little interaction with women in the film, so it’s difficult to judge him in this regard.  His snarl at the pious matron during his hanging is played for laughs, and as for his charges of rape, we’re never certain whether we should take them seriously.  After all, his laundry list of crimes is so implausible that it seems as though he and Blondie could have made them up in order to increase the bounty.  Certainly it seems hard to believe that Tuco could have abandoned his wife and children in light of his look of terrible grief when his brother says, “it seems you once had a wife someplace.” Whatever the circumstances of her loss, Tuco is obviously distraught about it, and the moment is one of his most sympathetic in the film.

At Blondie’s hotel it is one of Tuco’s compatriots who unkindly calls the hotelier’s wife an “old hag;” Tuco merely shushes her into silence.  (She doesn’t seem to be too vulnerable, in any case.)  Perhaps the best equivalent of his dealing with a woman is the hilarious scene with the old gun-smith.  Of course, the gun-smith isn’t a woman but he is a gentle old man and no match for Tuco.  Yet although Tuco robs him of his money (not to mention a fine sombrero), at no point does Tuco physically harm the old man, call him names or engage in elaborate threats.  He lazily holds the pistol over his shoulder, letting that action do all his intimidating for him.  When Tuco leaves, he doesn’t even tie the man up.  The one physical action Tuco performs is the prank of gently popping the “Closed” sign into the old man’s mouth, and the old man doesn’t even seem too put out by it.  It seems that although Tuco is willing to take advantage of those weaker than himself, he does not hurt them, as Angel Eyes does.

In the deleted Socorro sequence we see Blondie’s sole interaction with a woman in the film, where he is in bed with a Mexican prostitute.  Though we never get to see the filmed scene, the stills show him tenderly holding and kissing the girl, a far cry from the “filthy rats” implied treatment of Maria.  Of course, Blondie’s sensitivity towards the vulnerable is evident throughout the film: his comforting the dying Confederate soldier and the dying Union Captain, even his pity for Tuco’s physical and emotional torment. (“And Tuco…is he…” “There’s nothing like a good cigar.”)  It is not difficult to imagine that as a lover, Blondie would be Good – in the moral, as well as the conventional sense.

And so the Good, the Bad and the Ugly earn their labels in this subtle way, though I think Tuco is more of a “Not-Quite-So-Good-But-Not-Quite-So-Bad.” But it doesn’t make nearly as catchy a title, does it?

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