4. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
score by Ennio Morricone
It’s one of the most memorable opening few bars in film scoring history; a far-away drum beat, like a Native American chant played on horse hooves, followed by staccato whistling and a legato, high-pitch wailing. Ennio Morricone’s score for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, like all of his collaborations with Sergio Leone, focused on upending the instrumentation of the “traditional” western movie. In this film, each of the main characters has a different version of the theme: Eli Wallach’s Tuco is a shrill vocal wail; Lee Van Cleef’s Angel Eyes has quick strumming on an angry, low guitar; and Clint Eastwood’s Blondie has a sharp, smart whistle. Very evocative, very in-keeping with their characters. Amid all the wonderful music cues in the film, easily the most like a music video is “The Ecstasy of Gold,” which employs a theme and a motif we hadn’t yet heard, and features Wallach running around a massive cemetery looking for a specific grave. It’s as exciting a piece of music as has composed for an already exciting film. And that’s even before the final extended lead-up to a shootout, a track called “The Trio.” It gets my juices flowing just thinking about it.