Blondie's bounty hunting scam in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Early on in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Clint Eastwood’s character Blondie (aka ‘The Good’) has a money making con going on with Eli Wallach’s character Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (aka 'The Ugly). Tuco has a bounty on his head - Blondie turns him in for the cash, then later rescues Tuco from custody both increasing the bounty on Tuco and allowing the scam to be pulled again.

Was this trick ever used in the old west (or anywhere where authorities put bounties out, even today) and what do the authorities do to prevent it?

No idea on the general scheme, but the specific scheme wouldn’t have worked at all.

For real hangings, you try to snap the neck on the first drop. That obviously would have been a problem for Tuco.

Also, shooting and breaking a rope from a distance is nigh impossible. I think the Mythbusters tried it out using both handguns from point blank range and a Winchester rifle with a skilled marksmen. It didn’t work very well.

As I recall he was hung from a horse by a posse, not a “real” hanging; but I haven’t seen the movie in a while and could be mistaken. That method would more likely cause you to die from strangulation than neck breaking; but even “real” hangings often didn’t result in an instant death.

I just shot a 6 foot rope tied to a tree limb 25 paces away with a single shot from a .22. (no scope) I am not really a skilled marksman and took only 1 shot and the rope fell. I think impossible is the wrong word here. It was a pretty thin rope so I expect a larger round could cut a larger rope. ( it was not swinging and had a stick tied to it)

To me, beyond the logistics of it, the problem with the scheme would come up before its 2nd iteration. A guy shooting the hanged man’s rope and riding off into the sunset with him then presumably leading an angry posse on a merry chase is making the news, big time. If nothing else, the drovers are going to spread the story around. The local sheriff is also *probably *going to recognize the feller who delivered Tuco to him an hour before, especially considering Blondie’s distinctive looks and demeanor.

So Blondie’s fast getting a reward on his head too, as well as his description telegraphed around, wouldn’t he ? “dark poncho, cigar, looks like a young Clint Eastwood…”

He wasn’t that close in the movie, for one. I guess you mentioned the thickness of the rope, but that’s why I said it was “nigh” impossible. Even for a very good marksman, hitting a rope with a man struggling on the end of it from a couple hundred feet away is not simple. And a shot that merely glances the rope isn’t going to snap it.

In the movie, the rope was already pretty taut while Tuco was on the horse - not nearly enough slack for a good neck-breaking drop. But yeah, it does depend on a shot that’s probably beyond the capability of the rifle itself, never mind the marksman - if you mounted the rifle in a rigid rest, it wouldn’t group tightly enough to hit a rope reliably.

Also, they were counting on Tuco being hanged on a horse, so he could ride off to freedom while Blondie was shooting the hats off everyone. If they just decided to do the stool method, he’d be pretty SOL.

So most likely, Blondie sold the plan to Tuco, knowing it probably wouldn’t work at all, and Tuco was too stupid & greedy to argue with him.

To answer the second part of your question. Criminals are generally assumed to have a desire to escape and possibly have associates that might participate in such an attempt. Authorities therefore have prisons with locks and guards to prevent escape for any reason. If existing at all, scams like Blondies would be insignificantly rare compared to escape attempts of other sorts, and the cost effective counter measure for both would therefore be to make escape less likely.

Blondie knew it would work because that’s the way the world operates in Leone’s westerns

Not to crap on the thread, but I wonder if the rescue scene gave ideas to David Carradine?

Not at that time and place. The long drop method was first used in 1872 in England. In 1860’s America, hangings were strangulations.

By shooting a rope? Doubt it - ropes aren’t all that easy to break by shooting with period firearms. The scheme in general? Wouldn’t surprise me as its basically just a more dangerous for of “jumping bounty” on military enlistments.

I’m sure that David Carridine did not get his idea from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I’m not even sure what the scene in the movie has to do with auto-erotic asphyxiation. Or why you would make that connection.

I, for one, don’t see myself putting my head into the noose for any marksman.

There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend. Those with the rope around their neck and the people who have the job of doing the cutting!

Thanks for the answers so far.