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I've never watched a classic western, so I'm looking to give the genre a try. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly seems to be the most popular (and rated #4 on IMDB's top 250) so I thought I'd watch that first. But it's also part of a supposed trilogy:

  • A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
  • For a Few Dollars More (1965)
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

I believe there is no specific plot that connects them, only the "Man With No Name" character. Also of consideration is that according to Wikipedia they have a different chronological order (GBU is set before the other two).

Do each of the films work as standalone movies? Is there an "optimal" order in which to view them?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

Each of the films works as a stand-alone movie, so there's no real reason to view them in any particular order. I watched them all separately when I was growing up, and it wasn't until years later that I even found out that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was connected to the other two movies by more than having the same actor/director pair.

From the Dollars Trilogy Wikipedia article:

Although it was not Leone's intention, the three movies came to be considered a trilogy following the exploits of the same "Man with No Name" (Eastwood, wearing the same clothes and acting with the same mannerisms).

The "Man with No Name" concept was invented by the American distributor, looking for a strong angle to sell the movies as a trilogy.

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Also do the same characters re-appear? The same actors do, but are they the same characters? – phwd Dec 8 '11 at 23:13
2  
@Alonzo I'm pretty sure only Clint Eastwood is playing the same character in all three films. A few other actors appear in two or more of the three, but they play different characters. – Bill the Lizard Dec 9 '11 at 0:13
2  
@BilltheLizard In fact I still wait for any prove that Clint Eastwood played the same character in all three films. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 29 '12 at 9:51

It seems The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered a sort of prequel, but this doesn't mean you need to watch it before the other ones.

Apart from the various "pieces" I've seen now and then, I've finally watched them "completely" using the order of release:

  • (1964) A Fistful of Dollars
  • (1965) For a Few Dollars More
  • (1966) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By the way the Trilogy, although Sergio Leone did not originally intend it to be a trilogy, is also called "Dollars trilogy".

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Effectively, there is a an order to watch them in, if judging by the historical events that serve as a backdrop, and it is not the order of production but rather:

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (takes place during the civil war)
  2. For a Few Dollars More (the location of the railways is the clue here)
  3. A Fistful of Dollars (both weapons and uniforms are what suggest this is last as some of what appeared in the movie only came into use in the late 1890's).

The movies had a very good record of keeping their prop tech historically accurate - newspapers, rail, dates on gravestones, uniforms, etc

The order of FAFDM and Fist has been subject of debate, as they appear to be very close together in timeline, and despite some inconsistencies, there is some modest carryover (regretfully both ways which confuses the matter). There is some character dialog in FAFDM that suggests it is last.

I think you can safely watch 2 and 3 in either order and be fine. GBU is definitely first for viewing, although it benefits from the polish of being the third produced.

They were each filmed as independent movies, but certain things were interjected, whether by purpose or accident, that provide aspects of a trilogy. Unfortunately a confusing trilogy in respect of the position of FAFDM and Fist.

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At the end of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, The Man With No Name covers a dying young Confederate soldier with his duster, then takes the young man's blanket. The next time we see him, he's wearing the blanket as his iconic poncho. He wears the poncho at the beginning of A Fistful of Dollars. In that movie, his hand is damaged during a savage beating by Indio's men, and at the end of the movie he has adopted a leather glove for the injured hand. At the beginning of For A Few Dollars More he is wearing the glove when he beats up one of his opponents in the bar shoot-out. I think that establishes the timeline.

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Nice trivia, but this doesn't answer the question. "Does it matter what order they are watched?" Theses are such trivial details that they don't matter except in creating a chronology. – Meat Trademark Apr 28 at 21:34
    
This seem more like an answer to this other question. The asker here is already aware of the timeline and asks if that has an impact on the order in which you watch the films. You might want to elaborate on that part a little more in order to make the answer a bit more appropriate for this question. – Napoleon Wilson Apr 29 at 9:27

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