As good, bad and ugly as a western can get

PUBLISHED: 18:16 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (15.) Director Sergio Leone. Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach. 179 mins Five star rating Come on, it s five stars just for the soundtrack. Ennio Morricone s signature is equalled only by the James Bon

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (15.)

Director Sergio Leone.

Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach. 179 mins

Five star rating

Come on, it's five stars just for the soundtrack. Ennio Morricone's signature is equalled only by the James Bond theme and while that's lost some lustre through repetition, a bolt of insane delirious pleasure still shoots through the body whenever you hear der der da der, waaah, waah, waah.

Then again, it'd be five stars if the score was provided by George Formby on his little ukulele. Leone's last film with Eastwood, GBU is the best of the Spaghetti Western. It doesn't have the majestic set piece, the lush cinematography or the Death Valley locations of follow up Once Upon In The West. But where that is laden by the weight of all its cinematic allusions this zips along on its constant inventions and the zest of it picaresque tale of three rogues chasing a shipment of gold.

In the new restored version that's appearing in cinemas the 1966 film now runs to a full three hours. Leone breaks all the screenwriting rules about entering the scene as late as possible - he turns up before anyone gets there and hangs out after it's all over, dragging everything out for as long as possible yet keeping the narrative moving forward. It takes a half hour just to introduce the three protagonists.

At the centre of it is Eastwood giving his squinty stare, the look that Donald Rumsfeld has spent his life trying to perfect.

Usually I can understand why people are reluctant to make the effort to go out and see old films in the cinema but there can be no excuse here. It doesn't matter how big or how plasma your telly is, Leone's panoramic images NEED to be seen on the real big screen.

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