hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
With some great in-store offers coming this summer on film soundtracks as part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 1966 and we're taking a look at Ennio Morricone's epic score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Sergio Leone's sprawling finale to his ‘Dollars’ trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns.
So what’s the film about?
Clint Eastwood is ‘the good’ – reprising his role as the ‘Man With No Name’ from A Fistful Of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More, a relentless and mostly silent bounty hunter. Lee Van Cleef is ‘the bad’ – a psychotic mercenary called Angel Eyes. Eli Wallach is ‘the ugly’ – Tuco, a bumbling yet deadly fast-talking Mexican bandit.
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the three men collide in an epic, violent chase to find hidden Confederate gold.
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
A score, from possibly the greatest film composer of all time, Ennio Morricone.
So what’s it like?
It’s a sweeping majestic score, incorporating Spanish guitars, whistling, gunshot and even yodelling to replicate the scope and size of the Old West. The main theme is interpreted on a different instrument for each of the three main characters (a flute for Eastwood, an ocarina for Van Cleef and human voices for Wallach), and there’s also the mournful Civil War ballad ‘The Story Of A Soldier’.
What does it give the film?
It’s slow-burn approach and infectious melodies slowly rack up the tension. This is perfectly shown is the film’s finale, where the score leads from ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ into ‘The Trio’ during the climatic Mexican stand-off. The three characters barely move a muscle yet it’s one of the tensest final scenes in film history.
What’s the best moment?
The title track ‘Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo’ (the title sound so much cooler in Italian) is still one of the most iconic film themes of all time. The two-note melody, which is intended to resemble a coyote’s howl, instantly invokes images of gunfighters on dusty desert plains.
Has it stood the test of time?
Quentin Tarantino keeps using bits of it in his films, so it must have something worth going back to.