The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ends its run on Friday. I had pointed it out to a friend recently, and gotten the reaction, "At the Cinematheque? Really?" He elaborated that he thought such movies were too mainstream for the Cinematheque... which, really, they normally would be, but The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a vastly entertaining, richly cinematic film, and really did need to be included on what I presume is the Cinematheque's first-ever programme of spaghetti westerns, since it's the most successful and influential film of the subgenre, so much so that when I tell people that I like spaghetti westerns, many presume that I'm talking about this film, primarily (I'm not). It's the number one film on Quentin Tarantino's Top 20 list of spaghettis; it's number three on Alex Cox's. I'm with Cox in thinking that it's actually not the best Leone - I think a certain overly ambitious bloatedness is starting to creep into Leone's filmmaking with this film, which dominates more with each subsequent movie he made; his masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned, is his previous Clint Eastwood/ Lee van Cleef vehicle, For a Few Dollars More, which has every bit as much craft and wit and charm to it, but packs it into a much leaner runtime (132 minutes, as opposed to TGTBATU's sprawling 179). There are fewer digressions, fewer indulgences, fewer places that test the patience of the viewer. Famed soundtrack (and towering reputation) aside, about the only thing that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has going for it, in fact, that For a Few Dollars More lacks is that it has Eli Wallach, whose character, Tuco, is one of the great delights in spaghetti history (Wallach is 97, and still alive, even occasionally turning up in films! Between his role in this film and his delightful cameo in a weirdo kung fu film called Circle of Iron, my admiration of Eli Wallach is pretty much permanent).
Wikipedia estimates 600, made between 1960 and 1980), and if Leone was a pioneer and a master-craftsman and a hugely important figure - he certainly was not the only genius of the form!