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Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
"C'era una volta il West" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Western  |  21 December 1968 (Italy)
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 194,100 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 554 user | 164 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

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

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Paolo Stoppa ...
Sam
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Sheriff - Auctioneer
Frank Wolff ...
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Barman
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Storyline

Story of a young woman, Mrs. McBain, who moves from New Orleans to frontier Utah, on the very edge of the American West. She arrives to find her new husband and family slaughtered, but by whom? The prime suspect, coffee-lover Cheyenne, befriends her and offers to go after the real killer, assassin gang leader Frank, in her honor. He is accompanied by Harmonica, a man already on a quest to get even. Written by DrGoodBeat / edited by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There were three men in her life. One to take her... one to love her... and one to kill her.

Genres:

Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for western violence and brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

| |

Release Date:

21 December 1968 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in the West  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(international) | (1970) | (theatrical) | (Europe) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The main selling point to producers for the use of the Techniscope process was the savings in camera negative; but, another advantage was being able to derive the 2.35:1 aspect ratio while shooting with spherical lenses which avoided the distortion created by anamorphics during certain camera moves and extreme close-ups (such as those used by Sergio Leone). This film, together with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) (also directed by Leone and shot by Tonino Delli Colli) are now considered masterpieces in the use of the Techniscope system. See more »

Goofs

The train's box cars have four wheels, a rounded roof, and other features more akin to European railroad practice. The passenger cars have a more American appearance, but feature buffer and chain couplers which were not used on US railroads. The locomotive, though fitted with a bell, cowcatcher, and other applications seen on American engines, has a plate frame, whereas American engines have bar frames. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
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?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's title does not appear until the end of the final scene. See more »

Connections

References Vera Cruz (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Danny Boy
(1913) (uncredited)
Written by by Frederick Edward Weatherly
Hummed and sung a cappella a bit by Simonetta Santaniello
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: A piquant cocktail of style and substance in equal parts
4 March 2010 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Once Upon a Time in the West (OUTW) is a piquant cocktail of style and substance in equal parts, potent enough to catapult the viewer into a whirlpool of incessant excitement transcending him beyond the usual realms of an adrenaline rush. Vintage Leone, OUTW is inarguably the best Western ever made and undoubtedly features amongst the very best works of cinema, period. Leone incredibly surpasses the brilliance of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (TGTBTU) with OUTW by blending his favorite theme of Greed with that of Revenge. The only thing that TGTBTU lacked was the presence of a strong female character and Leone more than makes up for it in OUTW. Its eccentric yet consummate plot revolves around a female protagonist, thereby revolutionizing the very tenets associated with the genre where machismo and chivalry had solely held sway, hitherto.

OUTW is a juxtaposition of the lives of five individuals, viz. Harmonica - a mysterious stranger, Cheyenne – a notorious desperado, Frank – a ruthless assassin, Jill – a beautiful widow with an obscure past, and Morton – a railroad baron, whose motives inevitably make them cross each other's paths albeit through an act of fate.

Henry Fonda is a revelation as the cold-blooded assassin, a portrayal that is remarkably contrasting to his usual 'good guy' on-screen image. He goes about his business with a sublime touch of feral grandeur that makes him equally chilling and fascinating as 'Frank'.

Charles Bronson plays his part with utmost conviction and incredibly manages to conjure up an element of mystery in his portrayal that not only brings 'Harmonica' to life, but also gives it a very distinct identity despite Harmonica's conspicuous similarities with Eastwood's 'Man with no name'.

The role of 'Cheyenne' is played with equal brilliance by Jason Robards. He has taken care of the various subtleties and nuances to such an extent that he perfectly fits into the shoes of notorious, yet likable, 'Cheyenne'.

Claudia Cardinale is ravishing as the beautiful, yet vulnerable, 'Jill McBain'. She has fully justified the trust shown by Leone in casting her and by Bertolucci in penning down a strong feminine part in a Western. She truly entrances the viewers with her mystifying pulchritude and enigmatic charm. She meticulously highlights the flaws in Jill's character while also managing to depict the elements of tenacity and grit which represent the true spirit of femininity.

Gabriele Ferzetti is quite effective in his cameo as the crippled railroad baron, 'Morton'. He suffers from the tuberculosis of bones and each passing day brings him closer to his end, thereby further intensifying his desperate urge to fulfill his far-fetched ambition of taking the railroad to the Atlantic. He truly represents a man worthy of achieving the impossible, unfortunately cut short by his haplessness. Despite the inhuman and unjust means adopted by him to fulfill his naked ambition, one finds it excruciatingly hard to derive pleasure from his perpetual plight and eventual doom.

Contrary to the popular belief, the slow pace of the movie and laconism in dialogue pose no impediment to the viewing and in fact this deliberate pacing enormously adds to the detail and beauty of the movie, and also helps in brewing the desired level of tension before it is finally punctuated suddenly with quick bursts of action.

Tonino Delli Colli's cinematography is vividly descriptive and has elements which have become his and Leone's trademarks like the extreme close-ups, the quick panning of the terrain, the rotating camera shots etc.

The haunting score written yet again by the master composer, Ennio Morricone enhances the grandeur of the movie tenfold. If Leone's direction and Colli's cinematography are the backbone of the movie, then undoubtedly Morricone's plaintive score is its heart and soul. The surreal score has shades of melancholy, intrigue, and romance that become more obvious with each passing moment. The music features leitmotifs (a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a character) that relate to each of the main characters (each with their own unique theme music). The soundtrack to the opening scene is a creative orchestration of ordinary sounds like that of the dripping water, the clicking of a telegraph, a buzzing fly, and the screech of a windmill after Morricone experienced a musical performance created by the medley of these sounds. This created an exaggerated version of what had come to be known as 'Spaghetti sound'.

OUTW is a magnum opus unparalleled in direction, screenplay, cinematography and music. With its slower pace and relatively somber theme (compared to Leon's previous works), Leone managed to transform his image of a satirical showman into that of an accomplished auteur capable of producing much profound works. OUTW also served as the harbinger for Leone's surrealistic masterpiece, 'Once Upon a Time in America'.

P.S: OUTW is an absorbing masterpiece; an absolute gem of a movie and a must watch for those who understand the true meaning of 'A Timeless Masterpiece', and are willing to indulge themselves completely through the whole length of the movie. 10/10

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/


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