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Eli Wallach: an Ugly time in Spain

www.eli_w‘There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend – those who have a rope around their neck and those who have the job of doing the cutting’

In a 1973 interview the actor Eli Wallach, who died yesterday aged 98, said: ‘I go and get on a horse in Spain for 10 weeks’ – referring to the part he played in the 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The film, where Wallach played Tuco Ramírez (the Ugly in the title), was mostly filmed in Spain – on the plateau region near Burgos in the north and in Almería in the south, a couple of hours’ drive east from Órgiva.

The other Sergio Leone-directed films in the trilogy – A Fistfull of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965) – were also filmed in Almería, although Wallach did not appear in these. In the mid-60s, Leone’s set designer, Carlo Simi, built ‘Mini-Hollywood’ which is where The Good…was shot. It’s still there today (now a theme park called Oasys and with a zoo attached) and can be visited along with Fort Bravo and Western Leone.

Because of the bleak terrain – which could double up as northern Africa, an Arabian desert and, of course, the American West –  over 200 films were shot in the Tabernas Desert including: Lawrence of Arabia (1962); Cleopatra (1963) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Heck, even a recent episode of Dr Who was filmed there (see below). As we speak, Ridley Scott could be polishing his lens working on Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Below is ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in six minutes‘ where Wallach hogs the limelight. Quite right too – a Mexican bandit was always going to be our favourite.


Here are the movie’s locations on Google – note how they switch between north Spain and Almería. The graveyard scene at the end, for example, was not filmed in Almería.

And here’s the Dr Who clip (2012):

Related posts:

A town reborn

1967: anatomy of a film – Jerez, Andalucia (part 1)

Songs about Spain – The Caves of Altamira

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All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


3 thoughts on “Eli Wallach: an Ugly time in Spain

  1. I have to say that although I’ve heard of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – I’ve never seen it. Is there a themed spaghetti-western town in Almeria to visit, I wonder?

    Posted by Marianne | June 26, 2014, 10:10 am
  2. Eli was a great character actor,the scenery in the spaghetti westerns were stunning ans i want to visit the area one day.

    Posted by Ian | June 26, 2014, 7:53 am
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