I will have to say that my favorites are For a Few Dollars More closely followed by The Big Gundown (the uncut version and not the abomination that was released in the U.S.) which are also #1 and #2 on my list of favorite spaghetti westerns on the whole.
Yes…yes…I know that there is obviously something wrong with me that I don’t have The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly up there but, as much as I do love the film, I also feel a minor sense of annoyance every time I watch it. I can’t help but feel that the one thing that kept this from being a perfect film was Sergio Leonne’s ego.
This is, of course, just my opinion but I think he looked at films like Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, for instance, and looked at its 3 hour and 27 minute run time and decided, after the success of his first two “Dollars” films, that he wanted to make epics on that scale as well. What he failed to take into consideration though is that Kurosawa let the story dictate the movie’s length (some of his greatest are less that 100 minutes long) and didn’t set out to make a film of a certain length to the detriment of the story. This is a sentiment Clint Eastwood himself has echoed in interviews (not that what Clint and I think really matters in the grand scheme of things…I just like having someone in my corner ).
This is just a long-winded way of saying that as much as I love the film and as great as I know it to be, I think it could have been even greater were it 15 to 20 minutes shorter.