Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sixty seconds of Sergio

Not sharing Eli's hesitation about blogging on subjects beyond my expertise, I thought I'd fix the dearth of spaghetti western blogging here at Rabett Run:

I've been watching the above clip for more times than I can count as part of a little project I'm working on.  It's the climax from Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the second best of Leone's westerns, and the best climax.  The rest of this post is all spoilers, of course.

The part that really interests me is the final 60 seconds of the face-off, starting about 6:30 in the video.  Watch it once and it seems to end in a swirl of faces and a gunshot.  Watch it a couple dozen times and you get a story.

A timeline:

6:30 Angel Eyes starts inching his hand over to his gun.

6:33  Blondie looks at him, and he brings his hand back

6:49  Blondie looks at Tuco and gives him the slightest nod.  Now we who know the outcome also know there's no direct reason for Blondie to give a signal to Tuco - Blondie had tricked him and unloaded his gun.  It's what happens next that shows the reason - Angel Eyes saw the nod and flickers his view back and forth, unsure if there's a plan against him.

7:01  Unnerved, Angel Eyes starts slowly reaching for his gun, looking for Blondie to spot him moving.  Blondie never looks at him again, staring straight ahead at Tuco.

7:16  Angel Eyes takes an almost-last look at Tuco, hand inching closer.  Tuco's starting straight at Blondie.

7:17 - 7:27  Confusing closeups accelerate.

7:28 - 7:31  Tuco finally glances at Angel Eyes.
                  Angel Eyes nervously shifts his view between both opponents and makes his move.
                  Tuco sees the move and begins drawing himself (not that it matters).
                  A shot rings out, and Angel Eyes falls.  Blondie shot him without ever looking away from Tuco.

We learn later that Blondie had tricked Tuco by emptying Tuco's gun, so Blondie never had to really worry about Tuco.  Only by watching it closely do you see that Blondie also tricked Angel Eyes with the meaningless head nod to Tuco, and then by seeming to not pay attention to Angel Eyes, while watching him with peripheral vision and waiting for him to draw.

Nice.  Really nice.

Couple other points:  I had trouble with Angel Eyes walking across the line of fire between Tuco and Blondie earlier in the clip, but I finally realized it helped conceal his draw from Blondie even if it made the hand more visible to Tuco.  Maybe he wasn't quite as worried about Tuco.

At 7:32 you can see Tuco shooting his empty gun at Angel Eyes, i.e. not at Blondie.  Maybe it was just a response to Angel Eyes, but it might have been a choice.  Maybe that had something to do with Blondie's decision to spare Tuco at the end of the movie (not in the clip).

Speaking of the movie's end, Blondie tortures a guy with a fake execution/near strangling and he's "The Good"?  Maybe it was less jarring in the days before enhanced interrogation.  That's just one more good thing about re-electing Obama.

In the preceding movie, Angel Eyes was a good guy.  Nice climax as well, clip here.  Interesting how much swarthier Leone made the kind-of same character and same actor when he was The Bad.

I started watching this clip over a month ago, and immediately started getting lots of Romney ads on YouTube.  I thought that was amusing.