NEW YORK (AP) – “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” gets better, badder and uglier with 14 minutes of newly restored footage.

As part of a Clint Eastwood marathon, the uncut three-hour version of Sergio Leone’s revisionist Western is airing for the first time on AMC, without commercials, at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Restoring scenes from the seminal 1966 film required Eastwood to redub the voice of his quick-shooting, soft-spoken character, The Man With No Name.

“It was odd looping someone 37 years younger. It was kind of like looping my son – it was like looping Kyle,” the actor-director said Friday, referring to his 34-year-old son.

“It’s different going back – that was a long time ago,” Eastwood, 72, said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he’s finishing work on the crime drama “Mystic River,” which premieres this month at the Cannes Film Festival. “It’s hard to remember the plot line of the whole movie, much less those scenes. I haven’t seen that in so many years.”

With its iconic Ennio Morricone score, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” follows Eastwood’s character and competing gunslingers Tuco (Eli Wallach, who also revoiced his scenes) and Angel Eyes (the late Lee Van Cleef) as they search for $200,000 in buried gold at the height of the Civil War.

The film is the third in Leone’s trilogy of spaghetti Westerns, shot in Italy and dubbed into English, starring Eastwood as The Man With No Name. “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) and “For a Few Dollars More” (1965) were the first two.

Since the film’s American release, “it’s become one of the most influential Westerns ever made,” director Martin Scorsese said at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday night as he introduced the restored print.

“(For) Sergio Leone, who was one of the greatest directors, this was sort of a breakthrough film,” Scorsese said. “He told me how he mixed this picture – he said, ‘Six days and nights, straight, no sleep.’ Whether it’s a Western or not, I’m not quite sure, but it’s a Leone film.”

But the director had to cut scenes, Eastwood said, because his contract with United Artists dictated that the film last about two and a half hours.

Several of the deleted scenes already appear on the DVD as an extra feature – in Italian, with English subtitles. But with the help of AMC, MGM and Scorsese’s Film Foundation, this is the first time they’ve been edited back into the film in English.

The new material includes:

– The good: Tuco and Eastwood’s character, nicknamed “Blondie” by Tuco, display a faint trace of humanity in an extended talk about the war with the drunk, disillusioned Union Army captain.

– The bad: Blondie shoots even more bad guys who lie in wait as he and Angel Eyes search for the gold.

– The ugly: Tuco taunts an exhausted, sunburned Blondie with water as they trek across the desert.

The film stood out, Eastwood said, because it was so different stylistically from the classic Westerns of John Ford and Anthony Mann.

“This came along and breathed a breath of new air into the genre. In the ’50s and ’60s there was just nothing coming out. There hadn’t been a really good Western since maybe ‘The Searchers,”‘ Eastwood said.

“The use of the sort of unconventional shooting, going from wide panoramic to close-ups – intense close-ups – the operatic style of music, the operatic style of sound effects even, that made it larger.”

But it wasn’t exactly considered a cinematic masterpiece upon its release; some critics slammed as it being gratuitously gory. That never bothered Eastwood.

“All three of them were on the operatic side,” he said. “Sergio Leone was like a little kid playing his fantasies out. They certainly weren’t meant to be a serious depiction of the pioneer West. They were just meant to be what they were – just a trip, a crazy, bizarre trip.”



On the Net:

American Movie Classics: http://www.amctv.com

Tribeca Film Festival: http://www.tribecafilmfestival.org

AP-ES-05-09-03 1656EDT



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