Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

PG-13   |    |  Western


Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Poster

A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.


8.5/10
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  • Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Claudia Cardinale and Sergio Leone in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

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15 January 2007 | widescreenguy
8
| such a haunting theme
thank goodness for IMDb !!! I remember over the years that echoing mournful theme song but since I missed this movie on first release I didn't make the connection, and it never played on television because of rights issues and the unusual length for the time.

finally I bought it on DVD and there it was, that theme song that gave me flashbacks big time.

then I finally knew what the interview with Jane Fonda was about where she described her recollections seeing her father Henry in the unusual role as archvillian, and another one with jack Elam about how it took all day to do the scene with the handgun and the fly.

this is a remarkable western, despite some stretches of credibility.

the railroad indeed was the thing that finally opened the west; it was the only way to move millions of tons of goods and tens of thousands of people over the long distances, wagon trains were too dangerous and got off the beaten path too easily and couldn't carry enough provisions. the railroad allowed in a symbiotic relationship, towns to be founded and flourish with mining, cattle herding and farming around them.

and thus the premise of the movie, McBain is going to build a town right in front of the advancing railroad.

the corruption, violence and greed depicted were certainly problems of the day considering the fortunes to be made. no different than today when a big factory is built and the land selected gains 20 times its normal value and those 'in the know' engage in speculation. or oil or mineral resources are discovered on land held by simpletons who mysteriously are murdered in a 'botched' robbery or some such nonsense. it does happen.

the movie is so long I haven't seen it once yet without falling asleep which is not to be taken as a criticism, just that wailful haunting theme song gets to me ..... and it is close to 3 hours long.

at least the good guy, in this case, the good girl wins in the end.

gawd Claudia Cardinale is beautiful and still making films.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Henry Fonda originally turned down the role of Frank. Director Sergio Leone flew to the United States and met with Fonda, who asked why he was wanted for the film. Leone replied, "Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera pans up to the gunman's face and...it's Henry Fonda" (until then, with one exception, Fonda had only been cast in "good guy" roles. Leone wanted the audience to be shocked).


Quotes

Cattle Corner Station Agent: Hey. Hey-hey-hey-hey, if you want any tickets, you'll have to go around, eh, to, eh, the front of, eh, eh... oooh, well, I s'pose it'll be all right. The hell am *I* doin' around here if they walk in and can do as they damn please?


Goofs

When Harmonica climbs down the ladder, only to meet Frank at the other end of a '45, we clearly see that the ladder is electro-welded to the wagon and the steps are also electro-welded to the legs of the ladder. A rather lousy welding job, by the way! The movie takes place around 1870. Electro-welding started during the '90s, but the method got practicable only in the 1920s and began to be commonly used in the late 1930s when the great navies (except for the Royal Navy) started to use the method for their first-line ships. The great leap forward came during WW2, when Liberty ships and many other vessels was electro-welded.


Crazy Credits

Sergio Leone's director credit swings down in an arc as if to stop the train.


Alternate Versions

The 2003 Paramount DVD 2-disc release called the "Special Collector's Edition" used the altered ending score (over the end credits) for both the English 5.1 Surround track and what is listed as the "English Restored Mono" track.


Soundtracks

L'Ultimo Rantolo
Harmonica:
Franco De Gemini
Choir : Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni
Composed By, Orchestrated and Conducted by Ennio Morricone
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ricordi srl
(P) 1969 Sergio Leone Productions

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