This movie classic is considered the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made, has many interesting facts that are now finally being revealed to the fans and cult-followers of this Sergio Leone Masterpiece. Leone had a trilogy of movies known as “The Man with No Name” films which consisted of A Fist Full of Dollars 1964, For a Few Dollars More 1965, and The Good The Bad and The Ugly 1966. The Good,The Bad………made him a world superstar among his peers, with his brilliant directing and story telling, of this Civil War tale.
- Clint Eastwood wore the same poncho through all three “Man with No Name” movies without replacement or cleaning.
- Orson Welles warned Sergio Leone not to make this movie on the grounds that Civil War pictures were box office poison.
- Jack Elam turned down the role of Elam, the one-armed gunslinger who attempts to kill Tuco in the bathtub.
- Eli Wallach claims that Sergio Leone decided that Tuco would carry his pistol on a lanyard rather than a holster because Wallach told him he always had trouble putting a pistol in a holster without looking at it.
- Eli Wallach remembered that when he first came to Madrid Spain(where this movie was filmed) all the hotels were full.Clint Eastwood invited him to sleep over at a friend’s house and they shared the same bed. Wallach’s wife Anne Jackson told him he could boast that he was the only man to sleep with Clint Eastwood.
Eli Wallach was almost poisoned on the set after drinking acid used to burn the bags filled with gold coin to make them rip open easier when struck with the spade. The acid had been poured into a lemon soda bottle and Wallach didn’t know it. He drank a lot of milk and filmed the scene with a mouth full of sores. He also would have been decapitated during the train scene if he had lifted his head up. In The wide-shot, you can see the step of the train miss by inches as it passed his head.
- Charles Bronson was offered both the roles of Tuco and Angel Eyes (the latter because Sergio Leone feared that audiences would not take kindly to Lee Van Cleef going from the fatherly, likable Col. Mortimer to a sneering villain. He declined both.
- Ennio Morricone’s iconic theme music was designed in places to mimic the sound of crying hyena.
- Although Clint Eastwood is usually top-billed in this film’s credits, Eli Wallach has the most screen-time and because Sergio Leone spoke barely any English and Eli Wallach spoke barely any Italian, the two communicated in French.
- Due to the striking height difference between Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach of over 9 inches, it was sometimes difficult to include them in the same frame.
- During the scene right before the final duel where Tuco (Eli Wallach) is running frantically through the cemetery, a dog can be seen running on-screen at the beginning of the scene. In reality, that was improvised on the spot. Sergio Leone, who was afraid that the scene was going to slip into melodrama, released the dog without informing Eli Wallach first – thus, his look of surprise is quite genuine.
- In the gun store, everything Eli Wallach does with the guns is completely unscripted. Eli knew little about the guns, so he was instructed to do whatever he wanted.
- In the scene where Blondie brings a tied-up Tuco into town to claim the bounty on him, Tuco spits out a cigar and yells out something in Spanish. Translated to English, he is yelling out “Son of a bitch that gave birth to you!”
- Sad Hill Cemetery was a very-convincing set piece constructed by the pyrotechnic crew and not a real cemetery. Today the site is marked as a local point of interest. Though the central stone ‘proscenium’ and parapet are gone, the circles of grave-mounds are still quite prominent.
Shot in the deserts of Spain with 1,500 Spanish soldiers as extras.The bridge that Tuco and Blondie blow was an actual bridge built by Spanish army engineers. The Spanish agreed to blow the bridge only if their captain could be the one to do it. When it came to blowing the bridge the captain didn’t notify Sergio Leone and just blew the bridge up without any cameras rolling. The army was so sorry with what they did that they rebuilt the bridge only to blow it up again.
The film was budgeted at an expensive (for the time) $1.6 million and was shot with a process called Techniscope. This process means that you can shoot without an anamorphic lens, and only use half as much film as you would normally use. The Techniscope process places two widescreen frames on a single 35 mm frame.
- The price of gold in 1862 was US$20.672 an ounce. As of December 22 2015 it is US$ 1073.91 an ounce. So the $200,000 Tuco, Angel Eyes and Blondie are after would be worth in the neighborhood of $10,975,715.94 on December 22 2015.
- The prison camp “Betterville” was inspired by the actual Confederate prison camp of Andersonville, where thousands of Union prisoners died, and based on steel engravings of Andersonville from August 1864.
- The three man gunfight scene is called either a “Mexican standoff” or a truel (game theory). There are several mathematical papers covering the many complex outcomes of a truel. Other movies that use a truel are Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
- The three principal actors are the only ones who speak actual English in the film: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, with the exceptions of Al Mulock (the one-armed man) and John Bartha (the sheriff). Everyone else in the film is really speaking their native language, mostly Italian and Spanish, and was later dubbed into English.
- There is no dialog for the first 10-1/2 minutes of the film.
- The train features an armed car with a mortar type cannon. These were actually mounted on trains during the Civil War, especially where railroads had to operate near places where there was heavy fighting.
Petersburg, Va. Railroad gun and crew. Photo shows Robert E. Lee’s railroad battery. (Source: David H. Schneider, Lee’s Armored Car, Civil War Times, Feb. 2011.) Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865
- The trim on Confederate soldiers’ uniforms identified the type of unit they were assigned to. Blue indicated infantry, gold cavalry and red artillery. Most of the soldiers in the prison camp wore historically accurate uniforms. Try and notice these facts the next time you watch this Leone masterpiece !