The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

Spend the holidays with the Man with No Name -- but watch out for what's under his poncho.

Deck the halls with ventilated villains. The Man with No Name is coming to town, and he's going to find out who's been naughty. In an inspired bit of counterprogramming, Landmark's Act 1&2 in Berkeley is presenting a plate of Italian cold cuts instead of the usual fluffy holiday film fare -- a Sergio Leone Westerns Retrospective.

Encounter the stoic Clint Eastwood, the reptilian Lee Van Cleef, the boisterously annoying Eli Wallach (as Il Cattivo, one of his finest roles), the quixotic Rod Steiger and James Coburn, the hissably cruel Henry Fonda, the harmonica-playing Charles Bronson, the highly punchable Klaus Kinski, the dependably gritty Jason Robards Jr., the maniacal Gian Maria Volonté, the incongruously glamorous Claudia Cardinale, a pack of the raunchiest plug-uglies Cinecittá had to offer, plus the glorious soundtrack music of Ennio Morricone -- in other words, a complete rethinking of the Western, circa 1964-1975 -- as they romp and stomp beginning this Friday, December 19, with a one-day-only screening (6:00 and 9:30) of Once Upon a Time in the West. That's followed by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Dec. 20 and 25); Duck, You Sucker (Dec. 21 and 24); and a double feature of A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More on Dec. 22 and 23.

Landmark film programmer Mark Valen, who as a kid in Los Angeles was enchanted by Leone's style, agrees with those who see continuity between Leone's much-criticized (at the time) bloodshed, and the 2003 brand of mayhem practiced by Quentin Tarantino. "When I showed The Good, the Bad and the Ugly last June at the Nuart in Los Angeles," Valen recalls, "Tarantino came in with his post-production crew to watch the film -- perhaps for some tips? I read a recent article with Ennio Morricone where he said, somewhat proudly it seemed, that he turned down an offer to score Kill Bill. Morricone might have felt while Tarantino wants to pay homage to the spaghetti Westerns, he doesn't have the same sense of irony and antiviolence message that Leone displayed." Duck, you sucker.


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