I don't really get Westerns. I don't understand in my simplistic world view as to why we should be supporting the "baddies" against the Law. I'm not someone who wants the baddie to win, unless it is against another badder baddie and they secretly all along are really on the good side.
Which is why I find this film a bit bizarre. I am meant to enjoy watching three bad guys relate to each other over trying to find stolen money. I perhaps am meant to identify with the "Good" in Clint Eastwood, who kills people and steals money, or identify with the "Bad" who does exactly the same (without any more sadism) or even identify with the "Ugly" who isn't particularly ugly...
I know I am supposed to recognise the futility of war as it plays out in the background to the main story - and I do. Which then would suggest that the main story of trust amongst people (and thieves) is then a better way to live our lives. Or maybe Leone is suggesting that it is all futile?
Either way I am just confused as to what Leone's message is to us - if indeed there is one.
What is good about this film is that the acting is very good. Wallach in particular as "Ugly" is brilliant, and anyone who can pull of a moustache like van Cleef as "Bad" deserves credit. The music as well is typical Morricone, and is brilliant at building the suspense. The ending too has the potential to be outstanding although I think it fell slightly short, particularly compared to other films on this list.
I suppose my final thought is a more spurious one, and is one that I can identify in many films and tv shows throughout the ages. If a gun in this film generally holds six bullets, why is it that no one ever seems to need to reload?!
By all means this is a good film. It is perhaps one of the better Westerns, although my knowledge is admittedly weak. I'm just not sure it merits its Top 5 placing.