Newly Discovered Missing Scenes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
By Kevin Wilkinson
It’s rather exciting to think that a group of fans are in the process of acquiring a 1971 IB Tech print of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Italy. The reason behind these extreme measures? It seems there are a number of fans still unhappy with the various MGM home video releases of Sergio Leone’s 1966 classic. Their particular concerns focus on the colour and audio issues, all of which have been well documented. The dedicated group of fans has announced their intention to restore the International 161 Minute English language cut to its original status. After scanning the print at 4K, they plan to re-grade the colours and transfer the English mono track, probably from the previous MGM Laserdisc release.
What has come to light is potentially very exciting. On frame samples sent by the print seller, there appears to be some incredible shots from the desert scene, shots which have never been seen in any home video version before. They show Blondie (Clint Eastwood) lying on the baking sand with some animal bones scattered nearby. A translated description of the scene (from the original script) was recently posted online by Peter Hanley, the man behind the eagerly anticipated book on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -
Desert. The sun is glowing in the sky. Two forms unprotected from the sun are seen wandering in a scorching valley. Tuco is on horseback, and Blondie is walking ahead. [The musical cue for this scene, as described by Charles Leinberger41, “begins with a long and suspenseful introduction featuring a tonally ambiguous and disjunct piano melody accompanied by sustained string tremolos . . . [followed by] a beautiful English horn melody.”] The first part of the desert scene is similar to the film, except the script explicitly states that Tuco fires five shots in rapid succession into Blondie’s water canteen, and then he fires a sixth shot (characteristic 5:1 pattern) which sends Blondie’s hat flying. A little later the revengeful Tuco informs Blondie that the end of the desert is 140 miles away (in the film, Tuco says, “100 miles, that’s a nice walk . . .”). After his short speech, Tuco takes out a parasol from under the saddle, opens it and points it in the direction of the sun. A cut is described in the script: Tuco’s head is dangling and his eyes are heavy from tiredness. He rides past the camera . . . Blondie is now seen in the distance. His steps are heavy and sluggish. The heat has worn Blondie down. Nevertheless, he seems to have noticed that Tuco has fallen into a light sleep under his sunshade . . . Blondie looks around as if he is searching for something. About 10 meters in front of him is a white, gnawed animal skeleton. Blondie’s eyes appear to be hypnotized by this sight. He encroaches towards the skeleton. Close-up: Blondie’s hand appears in the frame and he grasps a club-like bone. The camera zooms on to Tuco, who suddenly turns, grabs his revolver and fires a shot. The bone flies out of Blondie’s hand and Tuco threatens him saying, “Don’t try that again. Now, get going!” Blondie sets off again. Tuco waits until he has gone past, and then he drinks out of his canteen. He also moistens his head and neck.
Blondie struggles as he walks on and on through the desert, and at some point he falls to his knees. Tuco rides around him as he tries to get back onto his feet. Blondie’s lips are one continuous wound, and his eyes are swollen and closed. Through the slits of his eyelids Blondie sees the slope of a dune which appears like an insurmountable wall. He struggles to his feet and tiresomely continues. Tuco rides past him and says tauntingly, “It’s just another 115 miles to the end of the desert, and eight hours until sundown. That’s nothing (he laughs).” Cut or cross dissolve (simultaneously fading out one image as another fades in): Tuco with his parasol opened is seen on horseback observing . . . From below, Blondie is seen approaching on all fours. As Blondie gets to within a few meters of Tuco, he is at the end of his strength and falls face down. Tuco gets down from his horse and cautiously approaches Blondie. Close-up: Blondie is motionless but the clanging of Tuco’s spurs indicates that he is coming closer. Blondie opens his eyes . . . Within a few centimeters of Blondie’s face, Tuco’s boot comes into the frame. In a state of desperation, Blondie plunges towards the boot and grabs it with both hands . . . but the boot is empty. Tuco, a little further away, laughs and slaps his hands on his belly . . . He lies on his back, shakes with laughter and kicks his feet in the air. Blondie is at his limit and lets his face fall.
So, the obvious question remains - Does this print include any other treasures that were cut from the film? Could there be more unknown scenes such as this? What of the scenes we do know, such as the Socorro scene or perhaps Blondie and Angel Eyes sharing a meal after leaving the prison camp - a scene teasingly shown on a U.S. Lobby card. Maybe it has the scene at the cemetery where Tuco fires a cannon at Blondie? We await further news with great anticipation…