Morricone, Ennio (b. 1928)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo] (1966)
“Ennio Morricone’s music to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a series of inspirational compositions—his most famous, enduring score. Each of the title characters has his own signature tune, a five-note ‘ah-ey-ah-ey-ah!’ answered by ‘wah, wah, wah!’ Blondy’s [sic] motif is voiced on soprano flute, Angel Eyes’s on the echoing arghilofono, while Tuco’s is voiced by members of the Cantori. This association is established by Morricone’s spectacular opening title music, performed by the Orchestra Cinefonico Italiana; the piece begins with a hollow drumbeat, with each verse voiced by the characters’ instruments—the flute, the arghilofono and the voices (with whistles and harmonica riffs mixed in). For the chorus, the Alessandroni Singers, drums and a blistering electric guitar up the pace, while the tune builds to a rousing climax, as trumpets (doubling as cavalry bugles) cascade and collide. This was cut to Lardani’s colourful title sequence, with the Civil War raging in bold pop-art imagery. These brief signature tunes are used throughout the film to punctuate visual and verbal gags, while the main guitar theme scores Blondy and Tuco’s adventures.” 1
“Morricone’s main theme is still his most famous composition—perhaps to the composer’s frustration, given his vast body of work. The film has a fine, exuberant score, though it relies on variations of the same piece, ‘Story of a Soldier.’ Hugo Monenegro’s version of the main theme became a worldwide hit; but the film’s greatest quality, I think, is its visual aspect.” 2
|Heavenly Angel and Scene Transition|
[0:26:12] “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”
Music from the opening credits returns to accompany a change of scene.
Toward the end of this clip (~1' 20" onward) the camera angle and landscape are almost identical to the opening of For a Few Dollars More.
|Witnessing the Dead|
[~0:49:33] Lee Van Cleef silently explores the ruins of a Civil War fortification—the destruction, the wounded and dead. Solo trumpet, bocca chiusa chorus, background strings, and polytonal military bugle calls in the distance [muted trumpet].
|Tuco Chasing Blondie|
[~0:53:48] Tuco tracking/chasing after Blondie. Vocal coyote, harmonica, electric guitar, gruffing mens chorus, whistling. No dialogue. End of segment transitions to Clint about to help shoot down another hanging victim. (Poor Shorty . . . )
|Blondie Almost Killed by Tuco|
[~1:06:00] As Tuco is about to kill Blondie, the sound of horses in the background, then the lamentation/military theme once more sounds with accompanying wordless soprano chorus—symbolic of Blondie’s “guardian angel.”
|Blondie Learns Where the Gold is Buried|
[~1:13:06] Blondie about to die fom heat exhaustion, coyote theme, with bocca chiusa female chorus in background. Used to close the scene.
|Arriving at Mission San Antonio|
[~1:16:53] Tuco and Blondie arrive at Mission San Antonio. Lamentation theme accompanying a shot of the inside of the Mission infermary. Background strings, solo horn [?], full chorus bocca chiusa. Dialogue interruption in the middle of the scene, then resumption of the music with solo oboe this time. Coyote theme at end.
|Scene Change and Dead Soldiers|
[~1:28:55] Gruffing mens chorus and vocalization for scene transition.
[~1:29:45] Images of dead soldiers along the road, a quick snipet of the lamentation theme (solo trumpet) and soprano wordless chorus.
|Tuco and Blondie Enlist|
[~2:11:25] Tuco and Blondie captured once more by Union soldiers. Lamentation theme, solo trumpet, bugle fanfares. Chorus bocca chiusa, strings in background. Images of the Yankee camp. Tuco and Blondie enlist in the Union army.
|Wounded Captain and Explosives on a Stretcher|
[~2:22:40] The lamentation theme sounds as the wounded Union Captain is carried back from the battle. Female chorus bocca chiusa. Muted solo trumpet.
[~2:24:42] Unaccompanied mens chorus with the lamentation theme bocca chiusa as Tuco and Blondie carry an explosive laden stretcher to blow up the bridge.
|Blowing up the Bridge|
[~2:29:25] Lamentation theme, solo trumpet, soaring wordless soprano, full chorus bocca chiusa, as bridge is blown up.
|A Dieing Soldier|
[~2:31:34] Lamentation theme as Tuco and Blondie see a field covered by dead Confederate solders. Solo harmonica in unison with the full chorus bocca chiusa. Discant in violins; no dialogue. More chorus and solo horn as Blondie covers a dieing soldier with his duster and gives him his cigar (as a last smoke) before the soldier dies. Instead of retrieving his duster, Blondie picks up a poncho, which would ‘become’ his signature look in A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.
|The Ecstasy of Gold|
[~2:35:34] Tuco reaches Sad Hill Cemetery and frantically searches for the grave that holds $200,000 in gold coins. Ostinato piano with solo oboe. Similar to the lamentation theme. Solo wordless soprano. Wordless full chorus backing solo soprano as Tuco searches.
|Showdown and Shootout|
[~2:42:03] Solo trumpet with strings, then the same ostinato as in the previous scene, now on guitar, interjections by castanets and melancholy trumpet as they prepare for a 3-way shootout. Chorus with mariachi-style solo trumpet, a bolero-like rhythm. Then . . . silence at ~2:45:25, music resumes at ~2:45:36—music box then timpani roll, piano ostinato. Music box similar to that at the end of For a Few Dollars More. Solo trumpet and chorus again. Music stops immediately when shots are fired.
|Final Scene and Ending Credits|
[~2:56:22] After dividing the gold and shooting Tuco down from a noose, Blondie rides into the distance. Ending credits. Gruffing chorus, electric guitar, then male chorus bocca chiusa. Coyote theme. Fanfare trumpet at one point.
1 Howard Hughes, Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns (London; New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 118.
2 Alex Cox, 10,000 Ways to Die: A Director’s Take on the Spaghetti Western (Harpenden: Kamera, 2009), 108.