Once Upon a Time in the WestDirector: Sergio Leone
One of numerous 1960s revisionist Westerns, Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) turns a revenge story into a contemplation of the Western past. As in his "Dollars" trilogy, Leone transforms the standard Western plot through the visual impact of widescreen landscapes and the figures who populate them, as Harmonica appears out of nowhere and Frank chillingly commands the center of the frame. The opening credit sequence of three Western toughs (including Woody Strode and Jack Elam) preparing to kill someone at a train station artfully plays off Leone's fixation with faces and locales and the epic effect of his meticulous narrative pace. The sense of suspended time speaks to the concerns with past, future, and history that drive the plot; Jill oversees the literal tracks of "Progress," while Frank is undone by the past he shares with memory-driven Harmonica. Among a number of "quotations" from classical Westerns, Henry Fonda's presence as the sadistic Frank and the Monument Valley location evoke the Western movie past of John Ford, as Leone exposes the dark reverse of Fonda's staunch Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine (1946). Ennio Morricone's haunting score emphasizes the elegiac, quasi-mystical atmosphere. After the success of the Dollars films starring Clint Eastwood, Paramount gave Leone the money to make his monumental saga as he wished. When the film opened to critical indifference and little business, Paramount chopped 25 minutes out to speed the pace, but to no financial avail. Leone's directorial career never quite recovered. Those 25 minutes, and Once Upon a Time in the West's critical stature, have since been restored; the film is now considered to be Leone's operatic masterpiece.
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Cast & Crew
|John Frederick||Member of Frank's Gang|
|Claudio Mancini||Harmonica's Brother|
|Dino Mele||Harmonica as a Boy|
|Sergio Leone||Director,Original Story,Screenwriter|
|Fausto Ancillai||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Dario Argento||Original Story|
|Eros Bacciucchi||Special Effects|
|Bernardo Bertolucci||Original Story|
|Bino Cicogna||Executive Producer|
|Tonino Delli Colli||Cinematographer|
|Giannetto De Rossi||Makeup|
|Alberto de Rossi||Makeup|
|Carlo Leva||Set Decoration/Design|
|Claudio Maielli||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Claudio Mancini||Production Manager|
|Ennio Morricone||Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Giancarlo Santi||Asst. Director|
|Carlo Simi||Art Director,Costumes/Costume Designer|
1. Waiting For the Flagstone Train [:14]
2. Harmonica Arrives at the Station [2:41]
3. The McBain Family [7:12]
4. Now That You've Called Me by Name [4:26]
5. Jill Left Alone [3:32]
6. Cheyenne Makes an Entrance [1:55]
7. False Notes [3:58]
8. Mrs. Jill McBain [2:28]
9. Harmonica Looks For Frank [6:05]
10. The Toy Station [1:57]
11. A Bandit Who Smells Money [7:29]
12. Many Kinds of Weapons [:44]
13. You Deserve Better [3:23]
14. The Track to Frank [4:23]
15. End of the Line [2:59]
16. Easy to Find You [2:39]
17. No More Useless Killing [1:58]
18. The Dream of a Lifetime [:10]
19. Just Another Filthy Memory [7:51]
20. The Auction [5:27]
21. Morton's Game [2:25]
22. Five Thousand Dollars [5:16]
23. Offer Refused: Frank Loves a Dollar [3:02]
24. Shadows on the Clock [6:27]
25. Morton Hears the Atlantic [5:47]
26. Only at the Point of Dying [3:26]
27. Shodown [2:28]
28. Harmonica's Memory [1:57]
29. Harmonica Returns His Name [4:53]
30. Come Back Some Day [2:02]
31. Farewell Cheyenne [:27]
32. Train Pulls into Sweetwater Station [4:23]
33. Closing Credits [3:25]
Audio Options: English 5.1 Surround
Audio Options: English Restored Mono
Audio Options: Français
Commentary Track - With Contributions From Directors John Carpenter, John Milius & Alex Cox, Film Historians Sir Christopher Frayling & Dr. Sheldon Hall and Cast & Crew - On
Commentary Track - With Contributions From Directors John Carpenter, John Milius & Alex Cox, Film Historians Sir Christopher Frayling & Dr. Sheldon Hall and Cast & Crew - Off
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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A serendipitous meeting of Director, cast, and story. Keeps one's attention throughout by maintaining continuity and separation of the various threads as they slowly weave themselves into whole cloth. A true classic of the western genre, touches cords deep within us.
From the dialogue-free opening scene, this movie had me hooked. The dialog was sheer fun. The unraveling of the film's mysteries, the look of the movie, the music, the harmonica above the music, and the recurrent flashback scene: all terrific. The movie has it all: dustjackets, grit, scenery, surprises big and small, the best train and trading post scenes of any western, a musical score that fits like a glove, and performances that will stay with you. The casting and performances were uniformly excellent. I don't know if this is THE greatest movie of all times, but it is well up there and certainly the very best of Westerns.
After a slow start it takes off with a wiz-bang. My wife thoroughly enjoyed this movie especially the scenes with Charles Bronson.
Sergio Leone's greatest work and you can clearly see the love and attention to detail in every composition. Leone gave us a mythological West, with incredible depth of field (in the manner of Shane), with a superb cast, at the same time as Peckinpah was destroying the myth with 'The Wild Bunch'. A two and a half hour film with all of ten or fifteen pages of dialog in the script, Leone uses his camera to tell the story. If the casual viewer can sit through the snail like pacing, they are in for a real treat. For film students and those who have a deeper appreciation of film than as simply entertainment, this is a must watch for any serious study of the Western genre. Throughout the film you can see homage to Ford, Sturges, Stevens and many other directors who gave us classic Westerns. The DVD set is a beaut; the second CD is worth the price of admission on its own. There are no 'restored scenes', this is the film as Leone handed it off to Paramount before the studio cut it for US release. This film also represents, arguably, Ennio Morricone's best score. At times nerve-racking and at others operatic matching the scale and scope of the film, the music helps tell the story rather just fill over silence. Arguably, the one beef I have with the film as it exists now is the insertion of Cheyenne's theme into the end credits. It was not that way originally 30 some odd years ago when I first saw the film, and in several screenings since, but those are the breaks. This film is a classic and is well worth the time spent screening it.
'One Upon A Time In The West' is Sergio Leone's epic spaghetti western that pits a lone gunman, Harmonica (Charles Bronson) - playing sort of the good guy - against evil incarnate, Frank (Henry Fonda). Frank¿s men, Stony (Woody Strode) and Snaky (Jack Elam) have been sent to the train station to ensure that Harmonica does not get off at his station alive. Meanwhile, the murder of Jill McBain¿s (Claudia Cardinale) entire family, because they¿re ranch house and property just happen to be in the direct path of a pending railway project, sets off this power keg of action. Jill is determined to have her revenge on the man responsible ¿ the man who is currently her ruthless lover. Jason Robards costars as Manuel Gutierez, a rancher with his own hidden agenda; one that coincides with Harmonica¿s to rid the west of Frank and his remaining posse. After a series of highly profitable western quickies featuring Clint Eastwood, director, Leone emerged with perhaps the most poignant example of the revisionist western ever put on film. Unlike days of old, this film is not populated with a series of conflicts between the good and bad guys, but a disquieting melting pot of tonal gray representations of the best and the worst that the lawless west has spawned. The ending is as open as the great outdoors and Leone¿s methodical pacing produces a work on par with the most purely sublime spaghetti westerns. The transfer is incredible! Paramount Home Video gives us a gorgeous looking DVD. Colors are sumptuously rendered with the entire landscape a visceral sea of rich gold, burnt browns, deep blacks and wonderful sky blues. Contrast and black levels are bang on. There is no shimmering of fine details, pixelization or aliasing for a thoroughly smooth looking mastering effort. An extremely subtle hint of edge enhancement crops up now and then, but it is so incredibly minute that to even mention its presence seems unfair. The audio is equally impressive. The 5.1 remastering effort brings forth a robust sound in all 5 channels, with a strong base and incredibly integrated sound field. Yes, dialogue is slightly forward sounding but hey, is that any reason to complain? In the extras too, Paramount impresses. Three documentaries cover the film's development and release from all angles. There's also an audio commentary, the theatrical trailer and some other quickie stuff added to good effect.
I first watched this movie in a film class in college. Up until that time I had only viewed westerns showing towns to be clean and settled. Boy was it a shock to see the grittiness and actual wildness of the west. Sergio Leone presents us with real characters; Cruel and sadistic villains, greedy robber barons, heroes who wear grey.
This is Bronson's best role. Claudia Cardinale plays the not so innocent wife with dignity and strength. Jason Robards Jr was one of America's great character actors and he shows this in the film. And Fonda is an evil Son of a B----. Henry Fonda was always stretching the bounds. He definitely succeeds here.
Good movie, great fun.
Words cannot do this movie justice. Watch it once and it will remain with you forever...it is completely unforgettable. Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale...they are all absolutely wonderful in this gorgeous movie. Thank the lord this is finally going to be on DVD.
I am reluctant to say the best of all time, cinema, like any art, is too subjective. However, Once Upon a Time in The West is a superb example of cinematic art and my favourite western. In many ways this is a story about a woman trying to cope with an unexpected situation, and finding allies in people who are not perhaps wholesome. These characters are believable because of their flawed nature, they have their own agendas but enough decency to do something right. I love the little details, such as Jack Elam's efforts to blow a fly off his face in the opening scene. Cheyenne (Robards)using a match stick to eat with. Cheyenne's first appearance is a memorable movie moment. Henry Fonda is excellent as the odius Frank. This film completely takes the viewer in. It is as close to perfection as any movie can achieve. Take the phone off, turn the lights down and become a bystander in the Old West for three hours.
VERY DIFFERENT FILM FOR LEONE A CULMINATION OF ALL THAT HE WANTED OUT OF THE WEST, THE DOLLARS MOVIES WERE THE WARM UP TO THIS EPIC. THE SCRIPT IS LIKE A DREAM AND NOT A WORD PASSES WITHOUT A DEEP MEANING RELATING TO THE OLD WEST AND ALL THE GLORIOUS HOLLYWOOD WESTERNS THAT THIS PAYS HOMAGE TO. FONDA IS SUPERB AS EVIL FRANK WHILE BRONSON GIVES THE BEST PROFORMANCE OF HIS LIFE. JUST CATCH THE END WHEN HE IS SAYING GOODBYE TO JILL AND CHYANNE, THIS IS TEAR JERKING STUFF FROM HARD MEN OF THE WEST. DO NOT MISS THIS FILM. IF PEOPLE SAY ITS TO LONG IGNORE THEM THIS MOVIE COULD GO ON FOR EVER AND I HOPE THAT WHEN THE DVD IS OUT THEIR ARE PLENTY OF EXTRAS
This movie is simply the best western ever made. The cinematography, music, larger than life characters, complex and intertwining storylines, dance to a masterfully choreographed crescendo. Fonda is cast in the role of the Villainous Frank in the nick of time before he became too old for the part. Just as brilliantlly cast but often overlooked was Bronson as Harmonica. Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and the rest of the supporting cast add depth and dimension. The music is astounding. No aspect of this superb film plays a supporting role as every piece rode hand in hand to one of the overlooked, but greatest films ever made, of any genre. The grand story of the comming of the railway is ingeniously enmeshed with diverse characters, harboring different motivations during the erosion of the ''old west''. Henry Fonda is brilliant. Cardinale matches him, take for take, in an amazing performance. The Monument Valley vistas combine with close-ups, and music, to yield nothing less than a ground-breaking masterpiece. This movie gets better with age. Unfortunately ''Once upon a time'' was made before its time and was panned by Hollywood, however, this reviewer casts a vote for at least an Honorary Oscar for the (often snubbed) Ennio Morricone's mezmerizing score.
This is one of the only movies, western or otherwise, I care to watch over & over again. The plot is deep, the acting is superb & the soundtack is outstanding. Who do I have to talk to to get this title released on DVD?
This movie is without a doubt the best Western ever. If you like the Eastwood/Leone classics like 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' and the 'Dollars' films, this will blow you away. What truly makes this Leone's best film is the cinematography and music. The scenes of the Arizona/New Mexico badlands is unbelievable. There are multiple scenes of over five minutes in length where Leone has no dialogue or character action whatsoever, but you remain spellbound by his filmmaking. Characterization, by far the most important criteria in any film, is excellent (let's see...why were the original Star Wars so good and the new ones so poor). Henry Fonda actually plays a very convincing villain, if you can believe that. Jason Robards makes one of his best character performances, and even Charles Bronson is good (well before his 70's dirty harry type trash roles). And the plot is the most intricate of all of Leone's westerns by far, focusing on the events of the railroads westward expansion. The only thing that disappoints is the rumor that Clint Eastwood was offered the lead Charles Bronson role, but turned it down as he didn't want to be typecast in this role after having done GBU, Fistfull of Dollars, etc. (happened anyway:), and if he had chosen to take the role, its enough to make ones head spin as to how legendary this film would now be. In terms of cinematography, I think this film may be the single most under-rated major motion picture off all time. The fact that such a stunning visual and musical film is not yet out on DVD, nor with a release schedule, merely reinforces that fact. A must see.
As my late night shift neared it's end, I told a co worker that I was looking forward to going home to a bowl of vanilla ice-cream and watching a neat old movie. It was 2 AM in the morning when I came across the start of this neat looking western movie, ''Once Upon a Time in the West''. A few seconds is all it took for me to get into the mood of watching a nice dusty old western. I was entranced by it immediatley. The movie, outstanding in it's casting and story plot, was tremendously enjoyable. I can't say enough great things about the movie. Henry Fonda's steely eyes added to the intense drama while Charles Bronson's amazingly cool smile astounded me. Claudia Cardinale has to be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in any western movie, with her big dark eyes and golden blonde hair. Her acting was real perfection. The western scenery in the movie is wonderfully desolate, leaving me to wonder what the exact location of the town ''Sweetwater'' was filmed at. With Monument Valley included, the professional casting and interesting storyline, ''Once Upon a Time in the West'' quenched my thirst for a great dusty old western movie. Not ever having heard of the movie or of Claudia Cardinale before, I will recommend it to my friends and family. I give it a two thumbs up!
This is without a doubt the best Western ever made. Written and directed by Sergio Leone, it was his best film. I only wish the powers that be would release a DVD of this epic movie.
I can watch this movie at least once a week.I've recorded a movie from AMC two years ago when they didn't have any commercials while the movie was playing and the picture is awesome.....
This movie clearly was successful in Europe - of course, it is over the top. The long opening scene is the whole point; masterfully done, but almost a satire.
A MUST SEE FLIM, WITH OUT A DOUBT. lEONE'S MUSICAL TALENTS AS ALWAYS MAKE A GOOD FLIM EVEN BETTER...
What else can I say? The is the best, most realistic western ever made. Director, cast, composer and crew came together to make a cinematic masterpiece. It may be slow but it is mesmerizing. I have seen it many times and I never get tired of watching it. I find watching it almost hypnotic. This is what the west really was. This is Monument Valley at its best. All in all it may be the finest film ever made.