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If I could think of one film that sums up everything I ask for when I see a movie, this would be it. Not only is it the greatest western ever made and Sergio Leone's masterpiece, but I would say it is absolutely the greatest movie ever made. Most, if not all films have flaws in some way or another, whether it is small or large. In a lot of cases it is either the plot or the execution of the plot. Actors, directors, whatever the case may be. With a lot of Hitchcock's work it is the incredibly fake backdrops and with Lynch it is the bizarre and alienating nature of his films. With The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly there are no flaws or room for disagreement. It is a movie that anyone and everyone can enjoy and appreciate. You don't have to be a fan of westerns or even a big fan of movies for it to be enticing to you.
Very few might argue that the plot isn't all that complicated, but completely disagree. Does a film need to have an obvious baffling plot or series of unanswered questions to be thought provoking? Not at all. In fact, I don't think that should be any film's purpose. Any director should want to give its audience a message and Sergio Leone does that ten fold. He gives us an excellent examination of man and his most obvious flaws. On the surface, yes, it's a movie about treasure and gunslingers. However, with a closer examination there is a lot more going on. You have the end of the civil war going on in the background and a great evaluation of the political state of the west and it's utter apathy toward the situation. You also see the brutal forms of justice going on at the time and the rise of the capitalism we know today.
Then we have three characters that really set the stage for an amazing ride. Tucco is dirty, despicably and greedy. He never has enough of anything and never learns a thing from his actions. Not even when he is left in the desert for dead does he re-examine his ways. For some reason though, he is an incredibly entertaining character to watch. In many ways I believe it is because we all pity Tucco because he is never going to win no matter how hard he tries. Next, there is Angel Eyes who is incredibly deserving of his title as: The Bad. He is evil in every sense of the word. He kills for money, has no sense of honor and spares no expense to cheat someone. Last, but not least in any way is The Man With No Name a.k.a Blondie. In no way is he the good guy, but he is the character that everyone can identify with, admire and even idolize. He is the gunslinger that you wish you could be and is what most western movies tried to produce, but never quite could. He is the birth of the Anti-Hero.
Now when you look at the acting in this movie, you couldn't ask for a better cast to be on screen. Eli Wallach is perfect for Tucco because he just completely embodies the greedy nature of him. You love to watch him continuously make a fool out of himself and fail time and time again. Now I don't care what anyone says, but Lee Van Cleef is the most under-appreciated actor of the genre. He is the face of the Spaghetti western to me. He has done so many great performances, starting with For A Few Dollars More. He has one of the greatest presences on screen, every time he appears on screen I get the chills. Again, last but not least we have Clint Eastwood. This is his one of his many amazing contributions to film. You can tell from the first moment he appears on screen how completely involved he is with becoming Blondie. To say this is his career best would be wrong because he's done so many other great things with his talent. However, this performance is on par with anything he has done. He also happens to be one of the determining factors in why I love this movie so much. Here is someone who loves film, has a giant respect for his craft and storytelling in general. You can do nothing but stand back and be in awe of his presence.
Sergio Leone is in every respect one of the most important directors in film history. He knows what he's doing and know's what his audience wants. He has one of the greatest respects for Hollywood and entertainment. In saying that, all of his movies are something to treasure. He always put 100% into everything he did. The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly takes some small elements and styles from other films, but it is Leone that makes this a perfect piece of cinema. He manipulates the camera and presents you into to this world that is completely believable and downright fantastical. It's like watching a movie when you're a kid. Everything disappears around you and you're taken to another person's imagination.
Chinatown is undoubtedly one of the greatest movies ever made. It takes the concept of Film Noir to an entirely new level, certainly bringing more depth and mystery to the genre than it ever had before. It takes films like The Maltese Falcon, Out of the Past and Double Indemnity and makes an even more impressive plot with better visuals and performances. Roman Polanski clearly has a love for the genre because no other director could be as precise about filming the way he is in this project.
The plot of Chinatown is by far one of the most complex films to ever be unleashed upon American audiences. I can understand people when they say "I don't get it", but it wasn't designed to confuse. It really isn't a confusing film, it just demands more of your time than others. It has all the perfect ingredients of the Noir genre; Femme Fatales, Detectives, Double Crossing, Scandals, Money, Politics and Henchmen. With that, it leaves out a lot of the unnecessary cliches as well, something that everyone should appreciate. That's why Chinatown doesn't feel stale at all, in fact it still has a very unique quality about it. No other film has been able to match it's glorious style.
The performances also set it to the next bracket of prestige. Jack Nicholson gives one of his greatest performances as Jake, the ultimate apathetic cop. He outshines any other actor who's ever daunted a Fedora and trench coat with a cigarette in hand. He plays the part as if it was himself, there aren't any obnoxious monologues or corny movement to damper his beautiful character. Faye Dunway is also in many ways the ultimate Femme Fatale. She has an incredible screen presence, which has you glued to the screen. She is also a very vulnerable character that gives you a very untrustworthy experience.