Do movies get better than this? Indelible images that leap off the frame — and not just once or twice, but practically one perfect shot for every minute of screen time. Clint Eastwood’s presence is understated (maybe even under-acted), but also mythical in every frame. Van Cleef’s performance is S Tier, and his chemistry with Eastwood is undeniable. 

Meanwhile, Leone has mastered his visual medium. He’s ironed out everything that didn’t work in Fistful of Dollars, and left the boring stuff on the cutting room floor. Visually, he is working in another stratosphere. Watching this made me realize: I spent my whole wedding photography career ripping framing techniques from Leone, and I hadn’t done it consciously or with knowledge of his techniques. His work here is so fundamental to everything that came after in Hollywood and photography that it feels like a cataclysmic event for visual mediums. 

And that’s to say nothing of Morricone’s unbelievable score. One that had my wife, who doesn’t like westerns, say out loud multiple times: ​“this music is so good.”

Every Han Solo, Chris Pratt, Chris Pine, and Ian Malcolm owe their characters (and careers) to Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone.


(Side note: I have seen this before, but not since 2010, and I didn’t remember a single frame of it, so I’m counting it as a first time watch. I got the trilogy in 2010 as an attachment to a Red Dead Redemption preorder, and it’s entirely possible I somehow forgot to watch this one.)

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