It’s arguably one of the best Western movies ever created, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.
1. It’s the third in a series of movies
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) is the third movie in a series called the “Dollars Trilogy” or “The Man With No Name Trilogy” referring to Clint Eastwood’s character, the mysterious “Blondie.”
The first part is called “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) and the second part in the trilogy is called “For a Few Dollars More” (1965).
2. These movies made Clint Eastwood famous
Clint Eastwood was a struggling actor in the 1950s and early 1960s. He landed a few roles, but his sluggish acting style and the fact that he doesn’t exactly articulate his lines fluently didn’t help him much at the time.
It wasn’t until he shot the Dollar Trilogy, a movie made by Italians and shot in Spain, that he started gaining recognition which eventually catapulted him to stardom.
3. It had a high budget at the time
The budget to shoot the movie was about USD 1.6 million, which is the equivalent of ell over $8 million today!
This was a huge amount considering that this wasn’t a Hollywood production and Clint Eastwood wasn’t a superstar just yet.
4. The same poncho was used in all 3 movies, without a wash
The “Man With No Name” appears in all 3 movies of the Dollars Trilogy, and it’s a role that suits Clint Eastwood perfectly.
One interesting fact about the poncho he wore in all 3movies is that Clint wore it for the duration of the 3 movies without washing it once!
This poncho was donated by Clint to a Mexican restaurant in the town he was once the mayor of, Carmel, California.
5. Perhaps he could afford one with box office cash
The budget of the movie was high, but then again, it was a major box office success as well. The movie grossed a total of USD 25 million on a USD 1.6 million budget!
One would wonder why Clint didn’t take his poncho to a laundromat once or twice during the shooting, right?
6. The bridge was blown up twice
The Spanish Army played a huge role in the movie as the soldiers didn’t just serve as figurants during multiple scenes, but also built the sets.
One of those massive sets was the bridge, which ended up being blown up. As a token of respect, the Spanish Army Captain was given the honor to pull the trigger to blow it up.
A miscommunication, however, made him blow up the bridge before any cameras were running at the time! Sergio Leone was so angry that he fired the one in charge of the scene.
To make things up, the Spanish army completely rebuilt the bridge from scratch so it could be blown up again, an offer they were only about the complete if the fired crew member was rehired.
Leone agreed and the bridge was blown up for the second time.
7. The dog wasn’t supposed to be in the cemetery
At the end of the movie, there’s a duel in a cemetery. Eli Wallach runs frantically through the cemetery looking shocked.
This wasn’t just good acting though, because he was actually being chased by a dog, something he wasn’t told would happen.
The dog can actually be seen running through the cemetery at the beginning of the scene as well.
8. It didn’t get the rave reviews it gets now initially
Spaghetti Westerns, as these types of movies are referred to due to their Italian producers, weren’t very popular back in the United States at the time. And that’s putting it euphemistically.
Therefore, it didn’t get the positive initial reception it should have gotten and reviews were generally mixed.
Over the years though it received the critical acclaim it deserves and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” has become one of the greatest and most influential Western movies ever created!
9. The movie was shot in 2 different locations in Spain
The initial filming started in a movie set in Rome, Italy, in mid-May 1966. The majority of the movie was filmed in two different locations in Spain.
The area that represents the southwestern United States was shot in a place near Burgos, north of Spain’s capital Madrid in the autonomous community of Castile and León.
The Western scenes of the movie were shot in a piece of desert near the city of Almeria in the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain.
The Western scenes location is now a tourist attraction called “Mini-Hollywood” and has daily western shows in a town resembling the Old West!
10. The cemetery is now a tourist attraction as well
The cemetery in the final scene wasn’t a real cemetery but was built by the Spanish Army as a set for the movie. It is referred to as “Sad Hill Cemetery” and is located in a town called Santo Domingo de Silos near Burgos in northern Spain.
After the movie was shot, it was completely abandoned and was left to nature for over 49 years. It wasn’t until a couple of movie fanatics started digging in 2015 and uncovered the iconic circle that more efforts were being put into uncovering the complete movie set.
The site is now a tourist attraction and a documentary regarding the excavation was created as well called “Sad Hill Unearthed” (2017).
11. Eli Wallach nearly died in the hanging scene
Eli Wallach had a couple of strokes of good luck when shooting the film. He barely cheated death during one of the scenes when “Blondie” shoots his rope after he’s being hanged.
The horse, however, was so scared from the gunshot that it took off running while Eli was hanging there with his hands tied behind his back.
Luckily, he found some support with his knees, or else he might have been killed for real while shooting the scene.
12. This was a day Eli Wallach didn’t easily forget
Eli Wallach was again lucky when he accidentally drank acid. This was used to burn the bags with gold to make them rip open easier after being hit with a spade.
The acid was put into a bottle of lemonade, and Eli mistakenly drank from it. After all, some fresh cold lemonade must have been wonderful during a hot, sweaty scene in the Almeria desert.
Not so much. Eli was able to finish by drinking a lot of milk and had a mouth full of sores afterward.
13. Clint Eastwood didn’t get the most screentime
Even though he is top of the bill in the movie, Clint didn’t get the most screentime. That honor was reserved for “The Ugly,” Eli Wallach.
14. Lee Van Cleef had some serious principles
Lee Van Cleef, The Bad, interrogates a woman named Maria to acquire information about Bill Carson. In the scene, he actually hit the woman, played by Rada Rassimov.
Lee didn’t feel much for hitting Rada and even though she convinced him that it was fine and she was “just an actress,” Lee stuck with his principle and a double was used to actually hit the actress during that particular scene.
Abut this incident Lee Van Cleef mentioned:
There are very few principles I have in life. One of them is I don’t kick dogs, and the other one is I don’t slap women in movies.Lee Van Cleef about his principles.
15. This is one remarkable fact
One of the most remarkable facts about the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, is that the first 10 and a half minutes of the movie doesn’t have a single line of dialogue.
This was just Leone building up the tension, something that worked tremendously well for the duration of the film.
16. Eastwood initially didn’t like the script
Clint Eastwood wasn’t necessarily pleased after reading the script. This was mainly because he feared that Eli Wallach would take the spotlight. After all, he is the funniest character in the movie and does get the most screentime.
His reaction to Leone regarding this issue was typical for the man, as we can consider it to be both to be serious and funny:
In the first film I was alone, in the second, we were two. Here we are three. If it goes on this way, in the next one I will be starring with the American cavalry.Clint Eastwood complaining about his lack of screentime.
17. High IMDB ratings don’t mean Oscar Nominations
IMDB is the most popular movie database on the internet and every movie fan can cast his vote. At the time of writing this post (May 2020), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly has a rating of 8.8/10 from over 660,000 votes.
This is an excellent rating and positions the film in 9th place overall, with “The Shawshank Redemption” (9.2/10) still topping the list followed by the first two “Godfather” movies (9.1/10 and 9/10).
What’s remarkable about this is that it’s the highest-rated movie on IMDB that didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination, which clearly proves that “Spaghetti Westerns” didn’t get the initial reception that they deserved.
18. Wallach slept together with Eastwood, in the same bed
When Eli Wallach arrived in Madrid, he had a slight problem. All the hotels were full! This was the 1960s so there were no hotel booing apps yet, so Clint Eastwood invited him to stay over at a friend’s house.
He wasn’t aware though that there was only 1 bed available and that he had to share it with, Clint Eastwood!
According to Eli’s wife Annie, he used this anecdote frequently to brag about the fact that he was the only man ever to have slept with Clint Eastwood!
19. Tuco nearly lost his head during a stunt
When it was time to perform a stunt with Tuco having his handcuffs cut off by a train, Sergio Leone insisted that Eli Wallach would perform it himself. After all, it was totally safe, right?
There was a rail with steps hanging out from the train though, something Eli wasn’t aware of during the shooting. It missed his head by mere inches!
You can see the scene in the video here.
20. Clint Eastwood already had the allure of a star
Filming couldn’t start on time because Clint Eastwood had a minor request. On top of his $250,000 salary, he also wanted to have a Ferrari as a bonus.
Leone agreed reluctantly, and only when this addition to the contract was added and the contract was signed, the filming could start.
21. Perhaps Clint Eastwood was right after all?
When the scene with the exploding bridge was shot, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach quickly duck behind sandbags that would protect them from flying rocks and other scraps.
Good thing they did, because just after the explosion, a fist-sized rock came flying in which landed on the sandbag right next to Clint’s head!
If it had landed a few feet to the right, he would have been killed that very moment.
22. This is when Sergio Leone came up with the title
Leone had the idea of calling the movie either “The Magnificent Rogues” or “The Two Magnificent Tramps.”
While he was having a meeting with United Artists executives Arnold Picker and Arthur Krim, he suddenly changed his mind and named it “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
Both parties liked this suddenly improvised title and the executives decided to award Leone with a budget of USD 1.2 million.
23. The title doesn’t really reflect the characters
Sergio Leone didn’t give the title of the movie much thought, and it shows! The Good is “Blondie,” Clint Eastwood, The bad is “Angel Eyes,” Lee Van Cleef, and The Ugly is “Tuco,” Eli Wallach.
At the end of the movie, The Good ends up killing 11 people, The Ugly ends up killing 6 people, and The Bad ends up killing the least of all with a body count of just 3.