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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)
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 200,128 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 558 user | 167 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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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:




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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)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Henry Fonda was trying to decide whether to be in this film, he asked his friend Eli Wallach, who had just made The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) with Sergio Leone, if he should take the part of Frank. Wallach said that he had to do it and told Fonda, "You will have the time of your life." (Similarly, it was Fonda, saying he considered Leone one of the greatest directors he ever worked with, who persuaded James Coburn to take the part of Mallory in the second "Once Upon a Time..." film, Duck, You Sucker (1971).) See more »


Spanish railways have a broader gauge (1,674 mm) than the American railways, which are mostly built in standard gauge (1,435 mm). In some scenes of the film it can be clearly seen that the "Morton Railroad" has been erected in the broad Spanish gauge. 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 »


Referenced in Train Birds (1998) 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

It doesn't get any better than this: this is movie history
24 December 2013 | by (wherever good films play) – See all my reviews

This one only gets better with each viewing. Leone's masterful storytelling and Morricone's crazy, beautiful, epic soundtrack; desperate, haunted faces which look like the barren landscapes the story is set in and a plot that unfolds with impeccable pacing to culminate in THE ultimate western finale.

As in Leone's previous films, music isn't just used to add to the atmosphere but is essential to the story, or perhaps even more: Morricone's main musical theme plays the actual role of a (or rather: the) protagonist in the film.

Anyone who thought that the so called "Spaghetti westerns" were nothing but cheap, violent B-movies had to reconsider after seeing this film. It doesn't get any better than this: this is movie history; iconic, classic, unforgettable, epic. For this film, I just run out of superlatives.

My vote: 10 out of 10

Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite Low-Budget and B-movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/

Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/

58 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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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
Sounded more like a saxophone or trumpet than a harmonica... rocknroll8484
I didn't understand this movie JeffreyLFinkle
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