From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films,
Date: Wednesday, January 28, 1998 10:44 AM

Bryant Frazer wrote in message <6am5r3$>…
>In Alex Crouvier <> expounded thusly:
>: I saw a little discrepnacy when going through this film. On the opening
>: credits, which is in English, Eli Wallach is The Ugly and Van Cleef is
>: the Bad. On the trailer which has an English voice-over, it is the
>: other wya around. Which is the original conception?
>The trailer is screwed up. (There's nothing particularly ugly about Van
>Cleef.) It was screwed up on the laserdisc version, too. When I first got
>a laserdisc player (in large part because I wanted desperately to see a
>letterboxed version of this film), my friends and I giggled a lot about
>this error, for some reason. (Shrug.)

I believe by "opening credits" we're talking about the superimposed titles that introduce the three main characters, NOT the titles that list the actors. No print I've seen has a credits SEQUENCE in which actor names are linked to "good,""bad" or "ugly." The closest thing to an exception is "Eli Wallach [as] Tuco." I've seen the film in American 35mm theatrical presentations, syndicated television, VHS and laserdisc.

The pertinent part of my previous post (January 12) on this subject read:

In article <>, (OgreMag DG) wrote:
>… Another question, which one is the "Bad" and the "Ugly"?
> The trailer calls Tuco (Eli Wallach) "The Bad" and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef)
> "The Ugly", but the movie goes the other way. I rented the pan and scan copy
> once, and it has Tuco as "Il Brutto" and Angel Eyes as "Il Cattivo". Anyone
> here know Italian?

The American trailer sure messes this up. I've seen the film twice in 35mm in two different L.A. revival theaters, and also on syndicated television, and in those instances, the superimposed titles "The Good," "The Bad," and "The Ugly" were in English, and identify Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach, respectively.

There is a funny story about Wallach's character being "The Ugly." Although Wallach had received a script with the Italian translation of the title ("Il Bueno, Il Brutto & Il Cattivo"), it was not until he saw the completed movie and the superimposed title reading "The Ugly" atop Wallach's image, that Wallach realized that the last part of the title referred to him.

Wallach's character certainly is "The Ugly"--physically AND morally. He connives, he manipulates, he reveals his deceitfulness and tries to pretend that he is good no matter how brazen the lie; still, he will come through on some deals he has made. Van Cleef's character is among the most evil in film history--he not only is savage, but delights in being so, and what's more chilling, he does his evil on principles he holds explicitly (In the segment of the film that introduces him, he kills the two men who had each wanted Van Cleef to kill only the other one, and says simply, "When I'm paid to do a job, I see that it is done").

The switch of "Bad" and "Ugly" in the trailer (which occurs twice) did get me wondering whether, on the English-language prints of the feature that I had previously seen with the translation, the translation in the feature had been in error. (This seemed unlikely, I thought, given the explanation of the characters I've given in the previous paragraph.) I went to a CD-ROM translation dictionary [and learned] the trailer was wrong.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Butcher wrote in message <6am7gu$s7h$>…
>The movie's Italian title is "Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo," which
>translates as "The Good, the Ugly, the Bad"; maybe the switch the
>English translators made with the last two adjectives is somehow
>responsible for the mix-up in the trailer. And it *is* the trailer
>that's wrong -- I've seen the movie in Italian, and Wallach is
>definitely "il brutto."

It's not necessary to see a print of the film in the Italian language to see the "ugly" and "bad" designations in Italian. The American VHS and laserdisc releases have Italian versions of the superimposed titles (over images of Wallach, Van Cleef and Eastwood, in that order) telling audiences which character goes with which adjective. These titles occur during the first twenty minutes of the film (they are spaced out) and again (same three) at the end of the film.

David Hayes


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