Sunday, August 5, 2012

Il buono, il brutto, il male chauvinist

Eli Wallach as Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966).
One of my favorite shots of the whole movie.

Writing this, I just realized that Eli Wallach is still alive. At least according to IMDb and Wikipedia. The guy is like a century old! When he was born Abraham Lincoln was still just a twinkle in his father's eye, and Europe had not yet converted to Christianity. He's like that old!

Just a thought.

So I watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo., 1966) with my beau yesterday, and it's as amazingly fudging awesome as ever. The obligatory goose bumps all over my arms when I heard the first tunes of "Ecstacy of Gold" teasing in the far background of the soundtrack, where of course present.

But I actually just wanted to share one tiny little observation with you all: If you are really, really perceptive... you might just spot a few women in this film! I know, it sounds totally ridiculous and unnecessary. But I can, off the top of my head, mention a total of three women that I managed to spot. Chronologically, here they are:

In the very beginning, there is the wife and mother of a family. Remember her? She does of course not have any lines of dialogue. That's not necessary for putting the food on the table, is it? Apart from feeding her husband and the strange visitor, she faints when family is suddenly decimated.
...That's, like, it.

Woman 1.1

Woman 1.2

The Bad One, Angel Eyes, needs to extract some information from... some woman. The only way to get that stupid bitch to talk is, of course, to beat her up a bit. It's her own fault, really - not being clever enough to sell out her lover before getting physically abused. Duh.

Look! Her character has a name. And several lines.

Maria: Is that you Bill? Bill!
Angel Eyes: Go on talking about Bill Carson.

 Woman 2.1

 Woman 2.2

Woman 2.3

The Ugly, Tuco, and his men are looking for The Good One ("Bloooondiiiiieeeee!!!"), and a woman dares to speak up when a man is pressed for information:

- You leave him be, He doesn't know who rides every horse!"
- You stay quiet, old hen!

And of course, she had no clue about anything. The man with a gun in his face did have information. Stupid old hen, indeed.

Woman 3.1

Now, don't get angry with me. I realize that women were pretty much either breeding stock or prostitutes in the Wild West era, and to portray that society as egalitarian would be revisionism. But I don't really buy that there was only one woman in each village either, and that all women were peripheral in their existence.

And YES, I can watch these kinds of films as entertainment only, and I do. I don't need to analyze everything, especially not something as tiring as the portrayal of women in classical movies. But why is it a tiresome subject? Because it's such an obvious issue! You can not NOT notice the skewed gender roles in popular culture. But I'll leave it for now. Cheers, darlings of mine.

The theatrical trailer, where Lee Van Cleef is branded ugly. That's kind of mean.*

* Copy-pasta from IMDb's trivia page:

In the theatrical trailer, Angel Eyes is "The Ugly" and Tuco "The Bad," which is the reverse of their designations in the actual film. This is because the Italian title translated into English is actually The Good, the Ugly, the Bad, not The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and the Italian trailer had "The Ugly" and "The Bad" in that order. When the trailer was transferred to English, The Ugly and The Bad were not reversed to coincide with the altered title, causing the incorrect designations.