Ennio Morricone is probably not a name many people are familiar with. Of all the high-profile movie composers over the years, names like John Williams, John Murphy and Hans Zimmer tend to spring to mind.
But Morricone is responsible for some of the most famous pieces of cinematic music, including the legendary introductory music in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Sergio Leone, the Italian director of some of the most well-known westerns ever, worked closely with his countryman for The Dollars Trilogy, featuring Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Morricone was also responsible for a number of film scores in recent years, having a hand in the soundtrack for Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight.
Quentin Tarantino has often said that The Dollars Trilogy featured some of his favourite films, particularly the latter. This may signify the influence that these sorts of films have had on modern action cinema.
The Dollars Trilogy are all based around the same premise. A bounty hunter, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, comes into town, and all hell breaks loose around him. He’s a quick talking, quick firing killer, who never ever shoots first.
A host of other talented actors work around Eastwood, including Lee Van Cleef, as the films managed to hold the same premise, but display a totally different story each time. The pinnacle of this came with Eli Wallach, the actor behind Tuco, one of the finest characters ever written for cinema.
Released in 1964, 1965 and 1966 respectively, each film in The Dollars Trilogy steadily improves on its predecessor. The dubbing in the early films is poor, and the dialogue is predictable in places. But the leap between Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More is astonishing, as the cinematography and soundtrack go up a fair few notches.
While the acting, camerawork and scripts are world class in every film, it is the music from Ennio Morricone that brings it all together into the (2nd) best trilogy of movies ever made. Each scene is ten times more engaging with the use of Morricone’s music, particularly in the numerous duels that happens throughout the three movies.
The music is instantly recognisable, which is impressive for movies that are over 50 years old. More importantly, the movies, and music, have been parodied over and over again, and sampled for other movies. The style of direction of The Dollars Trilogy has been perfected by Tarantino (distinct similarities between the ending of Reservoir Dogs and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), while the music has made its way into movies like Kick-Ass.
While it seems simplistic to suggest that the legacy of a trilogy of movies is based on the music used, The Dollars Trilogy is an exception. The films are excellent as it is, and still hold up today despite their considerable age, but the Morricone music is just perfect, and just enough to give the movies a legendary status.
Rating- Fistful of Dollars: 80%
Rating- For a Few Dollars More: 89%
Rating- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: 94%