Top 5000
Up 250 this week

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

PG-13  |   |  Western  |  21 December 1968 (Italy)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.6/10 from 196,674 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 554 user | 164 critic | 8 from

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.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Celebrate IMDb's 25th Anniversary with Photos We Love

IMDb turns 25 on October 17! To celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite movie, TV, and event photos from the last 25 years.

See the Photos We Love

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 23 titles
created 23 Jan 2012
a list of 49 titles
created 06 Oct 2012
a list of 37 titles
created 01 Feb 2013
a list of 38 titles
created 29 Jul 2014
a list of 37 titles
created 17 Sep 2014

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) on IMDb 8.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Once Upon a Time in the West.

User Polls

Top 250 Movies #28 | 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté
Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Casablanca (1942)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Set in Casablanca, Morocco during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Unforgiven (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
Rear Window (1954)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Psycho (1960)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
City Lights (1931)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman


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


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


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



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:




| |


| |

Release Date:

21 December 1968 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in the West  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Henry Fonda originally turned down a role in the picture. Director Sergio Leone flew to the United States and met with Fonda, who asked why he was wanted for the movie. Sergio 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, and with one exception, Fonda had only been cast in "good guy" roles. Leone wanted the audience to be shocked.) See more »


During the final flashback ("Keep your lovin' brother happy") from shot to shot the harmonica changes back and forth from clean and undamaged to dented and dirty. See more »


[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

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


Featured in Western, Italian Style (1968) See more »


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

"Something To Do With Death"
4 January 2001 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Sergio goes Hollywood for this big-name, big-budget Spaghetti Western. Fonda, Bronson, Robards and Cardinale queue up and take Leone's choreographic direction in an epic tale of blood and revenge.

Frank is a bad guy who has killed a lot of people. He now works for a railroad entrepreneur whose ruthless sterile tracks are spreading ever westward. The time has come for the real Americans to confront both the railroad and Frank.

Leone sat down with film intellectuals Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento and watched dozens of Hollywood westerns. From this saturation-viewing emerged a 300-page treatment which was eventually distilled into the script, penned by Leone and Sergio Donati. There are conscious echoes of "Shane" and "High Noon" in the meticulously-plotted screenplay. Ennio Morricone apparently sat in on the planning stage and had composed the score in toto before shooting began, the reverese of the usual process of fitting music to existing footage. The result is a tight matching of soundtrack and visuals. Robards, Bronson and Cardinale each have musical 'signatures' which play whenever their characters are onscreen. Bronson's is an eerily-wailing harmonica, Robards has the plonking banjo and Cardinale the lush strings. So intricately was everything structured that the themes were available to be played on set, so that the actors could co-ordinate every nuance of gesture to fit with the score.

The film is a grandiose lament to the death of the Wild West. Decay is everywhere to be seen. Streets, bars, buildings and people all have a beat-up, grungy look. When Cheyenne (Robards) pauses beside a rough-hewn wooden post, there is little difference in texture between his face and the post. Morton the cripple is killing the romantic West of open spaces with his "snail trail" of railroad tracks, leaving the fine adventurous men (Cheyenne and Harmonica) nowhere to go.

There can be few opening scenes with the visual and aural brilliance of this one. Three bad guys stake out Flagstone's railroad depot in a High Noon pastiche. Jack Elam (who was actually in "High Noon") leads the villains. The only spoken words throughout this long (but totally gripping) scene are uttered by the old station clerk. Haunting rhythms raise the tension to an unbearable pitch ... the squeaking windmill, the chattering tickertape, the creaking bench. This wonderful crescendo climaxes with the appearance of Bronson, a sequence as stylised and choreographed as a Shinto ceremony, all the more effective for the absence of spontaneity.

Equal to and counterbalancing this scene is the very next one, the introduction of Frank. This time it is "Shane" that gets the treatment as the McBain boy spots five men in yellow duster topcoats. A growing sense of unease on the McBain homestead is beautifully conveyed (was the stopping of a cicada chirp ever so effective?) A cinematic multiple orgasm ensues, with the musical theme crashing in as the boy sees the devastation, and the camera swoops round to reveal the baddie to be none other than Henry Fonda as Morricone's trademark solitary tubular bell peals out.

Cheyenne's entrance is also a piece of impressive cinema. Inside Lionel Stander's strange labyrinthine tavern, quite unlike any saloon ever filmed before, the violence which hovers around Cheyenne like a dustcloud is heard but not seen, preparing us for his appearance in person. The sliding of the lamp towards Bronson works brilliantly, the film's two good men sharing the light of humour, the symbolic forging of a meaningful friendship.

By a slow accretion, the plot reveals itself. The leviathan of the railroad must be stopped, and there must be a reckoning with Frank. Gradually the fates of the main characters converge, and swim into sharp focus for the shoot-out.

It is not the story, excellent though that is, which lingers in the memory, but rather a hundred individual flashes of brilliance: Claudia Cardinale (are those eyes for real?) filmed on the bed, viewed vertically downward, through a lace canopy: Cheyenne's surprise method of concealing himself on the train: Morton ("when you're not on that train, you're like a turtle out of its shell") imprisoned by the armature that helps him walk: the 'heartbeat' of the train's engine during the cardgame: the tension of the ambush preparations against Frank: the eruption of guitar music as Bronson enters the frame: Bronson's stillness and self-possession, the emblem of his righteousness: Fonda's eyes flickering rapidly in his motionless head, denoting the waning of his self-confidence: the amazing super-close-ups of Bronson: and the weird brick arch, the only man-made intrusion into the entire terrain, and the focus of human depravity.

277 of 335 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Reason Frank's guys were there to kill Harmonica? DoctorKingSchultz
Repetitive and boring nickcluxton
Your favorite moment/scene? SeaHorseMafia
The Most Hated Movie among the IMDB Top 25 Movies hspraj
I didn't understand this movie JeffreyLFinkle
Clint Eastwood as Harmonica ??? Movie25
Discuss Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: