The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Movie Poster Image

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Potent Italian-Western shoot-'em up/war drama.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Western
  • Release Year: 1967
  • Running Time: 161 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Man With No Name is the "good" guy, and actually shows moments of compassion despite the character's ruthless attitude and quick gun violence. Killer Tuco is made sympathetic compared to scoundrels who surround him; he claims he had no choice but to become a desperado. A character who became a clergyman rather than an outlaw is scolded for cowardice, and the film seems to support that judgment. Female characters are either whores or inconsequential.

Violence

Numerous men shot to death, some in one-on-one gun duels, others by military skirmishes and firing squads. Much cannon fire. A brutal beating and gruesome near-death from dehydration. One character bashed in the skull and run over by a locomotive.

Sex

A female supporting character is stated to be a prostitute. A brief rear-view nude shot of Eli Wallach in the bath.

Language

"Bastard," "SOB," and some swearing in Spanish from Tuco.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Much drinking in and out of saloons, and Eastwood and others have cigarettes clenched in their teeth a lot of the time, which becomes a symbol of manliness and comfort. Ditto for drinking heavily.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a lengthy, violent Western, considered adult material when first released because of the mass-killing, swearing, and the frank acknowledgement of prostitution, death, and greed. There's a strong futility-of-war theme in the bloody Civil War carnage. A character who became a clergyman rather than an outlaw is scolded for cowardice, and the film seems to support that judgment. There are repeated stunts involving characters who nearly get hung, only to escape at the last second when bullets cut the rope, as well as some cavalier playing with dynamite.

What's the story?

In THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Clint Eastwood's character is an opportunistic gunman in Civil War-era Texas who saves grubby bandit Tuco (Eli Wallach) from bounty-hunters -- only to turn Tuco in himself for the reward money, then rescue the condemned man over and over again, for further bounty. Tuco gets tired of this routine and almost kills his partner -- but then they each hear different clues to the hiding place of a fortune in Union Army gold. They must reluctantly keep each other safe while searching for the treasure, against the backdrop of ever-escalating bloodshed between North and South. Moreover, another outlaw, a vicious freelance murderer nicknamed Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef, who, rather confusingly, played an entirely different character in For a Few Dollars More), has already been looking for the gold, and he gains a sergeant's rank in the Union Army as he follows the other two men.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Director Sergio Leone brilliantly displays his flamboyant, larger-than-life filmmaking style here. He puts an emphasis on long, tense close-ups of the actors' faces; widescreen camera compositions; wry humor; quick explosions of action; and surreal music by Ennio Morricone. He also tells a dense, multi-layered story that worked well for a lot of viewers in the Vietnam era as a statement on greed and violence; The treasure hunt between the three main characters gets overtaken by the greater menace, that of the Civil War that chews up so many young lives -- making even the hardened Man With No Name morally repulsed at the slaughter. But not so repulsed that he doesn't still have a plan to get the gold.

Reckoned by some fans as the best Western ever, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the sweeping, stirring finale in a loose trilogy of trendsetting Italian-made horse operas starring Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name (you actually were told his name in the previous For a Few Dollars More, but never mind). It's unnecessary to see the other movies to follow this one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes The Good, the Bad and the Ugl a Western classic. You can compare it to countless other sagebrush tales in which the good guys and the bad guys were a lot more one dimensional.

  • How does the Man With No Name's feelings for Tuco (or other people) change throughout the story? Does it really seem to concern the Civil War, or do the battle scenes recall more recent military ops you can think of?

  • You might talk about "spaghetti Westerns" in general and the movies they influenced, right up to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 29, 1967
DVD/Streaming release date:January 28, 1998
Cast:Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Rada Rassimov
Director:Sergio Leone
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Western
Run time:161 minutes
MPAA rating:R

This review of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written bymongofa February 3, 2011

Fantastic

This movie made me like westerns. It is a wild and exciting adventure through the West during the American civil war. Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach rocked! The music is great as well.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byashowiscool April 5, 2011
Really, the content of the movie isn't that bad. Nothing compared to now. My veiw is that the younger generation have seen ALOT worse and this is a toddlers movie to them. But either way, it's a great movie and I wish the younger generation could be into these kind of movies today. But unfortunately, they're minds have been spoiled by the crappy movies made today. If I could project into every kid's mind One Flew Over The Cucoos Nest and change them from being such an obnoxious immature era then I would.
Teen, 15 years old Written byMr Blonde January 29, 2014