The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Factual error: When Tuco is in the gunshop messing around with the guns, one gun has the cylinder and barrel moving back and forth by manipulating the trigger guard-lever. This is a Belgian Galand & Somerville revolver, a gun that did not exist until 1868. This film takes place during the US Civil War, which ended in 1865.

Factual error: When Clint Eastwood blows up the bridge, he lights only one fuse but all of the explosives detonate simultaneously, despite being attached to numerous, separate pilings.

Factual error: When Angel Eyes arrives at the Confederate Army Hospital, the Confederate flag that is flying is not the correct flag; it is the flag that people in the 20th century and later think of as the Confederate flag. The only rectangular flag with the blue St Andrew's cross on red was the Confederate navy flag and the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee, which was the standardized battle flag for the Western Armies (but not that far west) after January 1864, so didn't exist in the New Mexico campaign, nor at the time the story takes place.


Factual error: They blow up the bridge with what looks like dynamite or TNT. The American civil war ended in 1865, dynamite wasn't invented until 1867 and the explosive properties of TNT were first discovered in 1891.

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Suggested correction: Certainly, director Sergio Leone was well known for the plot-holes and anachronisms in his films; however, Nobel invented the electrically-ignited concussive blasting cap in 1863 for detonating dynamite, which suggests that he was already developing dynamite from nitroglycerine. Nobel patented his dynamite formula in 1867, but he was apparently already blowing things up with it as far back as 1863. This still does not explain the burning fuses used in TGTB&TU, which should not detonate stabilized nitroglycerine, anyway. It's possible that they were using black powder sticks. Black-powder sticks require a burning fuse (like a very large firecracker).

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: Just before Angel Eyes confronts the girl in her room about the whereabouts of Bill Carson, we see her walking in the hall outside her room, and lighting this hallway is a very modern day lightbulb.

Factual error: The judges reading Tuco and Shorty's death sentences mention them being wanted by so many counties within "the state." This cannot be correct. The battles the characters are near at all times in the film depict the battles over New Mexico. The Union never invaded Texas through its western deserts, despite landing in the Rio Grande valley. New Mexico was not a state until 1912 and was never treated as a state by the CSA. Thus, the judges should be saying territory.


Factual error: The guns Tuco and Blondie use appear to be 1851 Colt Navy because they have octagonal barrels and the loading ram below the barrel. 2 problems are that 1) the '51 was only made in .36 calibre. When shown from the business end the muzzles appear to be much larger. Colt '61 / '60 came in .44 caliber, but they had round barrels. 2) More importantly they are using brass cartridges to load. Conversions for those pistols to load cartridges did not exist till after the war and these were cap 'n' ball only then.

Factual error: While cleaning his pistol Eastwood is using a plastic bore brush, not available in that era. (00:00:45 - 00:50:00)

Factual error: The movie depicts General Sibley's New Mexico campaign. This occurred in the first half of 1862, with the last battle occurring on June 1, prior to a Confederate retreat to Texas. General Sibley is seen, and he lost his battlefield command altogether in 1863. However, Angel Eyes makes reference to Andersonville prison, which did not open until 1864. The question is also begged as to how Art Scanlon, who died in February of 1862, had completely rotted away by May in dry soil.


Factual error: Regarding the train scenes when Tuco is taken then escapes from Mario Brega, there were no trains / railways in New Mexico in any of the years of the US Civil War, let alone 1862 when Selby's short-lived and daft campaign was limited to. I believe the RRs were starting to move into Texas then, but not NM until the 1870s. Also, the whole geography of the film is wrong if the gold was intercepted but 'escaped' with the three people in the wagon near Glorietta Pass in early 1862. The sequence of events means all involved had to go up and down the Rio Bravo constantly - eg. the 'jornado del muerto' is hundreds of miles from Glorietta. This is too complicated to summarise here, but check the actual battles and timelines.

Factual error: Extended version. After finding a dying Bill Carson, Tuco arrives at an outpost looking for a hospital. It's night, or at least dark outside - he is told the hospital is 18 miles away. In the next scene he arrives at the hospital at nearly high noon. A horse canters and gallops (full speed) between 4-30 mph. Basically the hospital was an hour away.

Beau Peterson

Other mistake: In the very last scene of the movie, and just before Blondie shoots the rope that is holding Tuco on the grave's cross. You can see a car moving in the background, screen right of Tuco's head.

More mistakes in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Tuco: I'll kill you.
Man With No Name: If you do that... You'll always be poor... Just like the greasy rat you are.

More quotes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Trivia: When the camera crew were rigging the bridge to be blown up, the supervisor in charge of the detonation who didn't speak any foreign language thought he had been given the instruction to blow up the bridge and proceded to do it. Trouble was, the camera crew hadn't finished setting everything up and it was not filmed at all. Sergio Leone was (according to Clint Eastwood) the angriest anyone had ever seen him. As a result, the army agreed to rebuild the bridge for free and it hired a detonator who did speak the right language. This time they got the shot.

Gavin Jackson

More trivia for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Question: At the end of the film Blondie, sitting on the horse, turns around, aims his rifle, fires, and severs the rope with a single shot. Lets face it, that rope would be a very small target, and difficult to hit with precision, even from ten or twenty feet, and Blondie is now so far from Tuco that he would no longer even be able to see the rope. Could anyone hit such a small target from such a distance with such incredible accuracy?

Rob Halliday

Answer: There's a show called "Hollywood Weapons: Fact or Fiction" which dealt with this exact question (s01e03). Blondie is roughly 200 yds away. In the show the host didn't hit the rope, but only missed by an inch on his first attempt. I definitely think an expert Sharps Rifle shooter could make the shot. The issue however, is the bullet would most likely not actually slice the rope apart as seen in the film (they fired the Sharps at point blank and the rope remained partially intact still). They also tested shooting a hat off someone and (as expected) the bullet just goes right through the hat without lifting the hat at all.


That was another thing that puzzled me. On several occasions in this film, Tuco is suspended from a rope, and Blondie cuts the rope by firing a bullet at it, (I think Clint Eastwood repeated the trick in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"). But if you fired a bullet at a rope holding a (rather large) person like Tuco (or a similarly heavy weight), even at close range, would it really sever the rope? I will have to look out for "Hollywood Weapons Fact Or Fiction." I hope they only used a dummy or a model to re-create the shooting feats. I don't think I would have liked to have been hanging on a rope while somebody fired bullets at me to see if this would sever the rope, or to stand there while they fired bullets into my hat to see if they could lift it off my head.

Rob Halliday

Answer: Probably not, but remember...this is a movie, a western at that and they typically have over the top action to excite audiences. Kinda like how its impossible to shoot someone's hat off without harming them. It's all for show.


More questions & answers from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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