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Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Poster

Alternate Versions

Frank's line upon giving Harmonica his namesake varies from version to version. The Italian translates to "play something for your brother," but the most common English version is "keep your loving brother happy," and the German translates to "play me the song of death." The German movie title was inspired by this line.
The original 1969 UK cinema release was rated 'A' (the equivalent of today's PG certificate) by the BBFC after editing the bed scene between Frank and Jill and removing his line "You also like feeling a man's hand all over your body, even if they're the hands of the man that killed your husband". The line was restored for all later releases.
Fulvio Morsella and Bino Cicogna are credited as producer and executive producer respectively in the English-language version, but these roles are swapped on Italian prints.
Even the original Italian version was heavily edited, obviously for time reasons; though the scenes cut from it were relatively unimportant (Frank getting a shave before the Flagstone auction, Harmonica being beaten by three deputies) they would nonetheless explain numerous things such as Harmonica's scars that are apparent towards the end of the movie but are not present early on.
The opening scene is several minutes shorter in the current American print, as, according to Christopher Frayling's biography of Leone, Leone's daughters Rafaella and Francesca appear as girls playing near the station - but in my copy of the VHS, no such girls appear.
The Italian DVD contains an extended version of the movie with the running time 171 minutes. (The standard version used in other countries running time are between 155 to 165 mins.) The principal differences are the opening sequence, which is much longer, - Jack Elem game with the fly - and the closing sequence, as well (the panoramic shoot is complete before the title appears). Another missing scene, which has disappeared from all the European edits, is in it: after the station scene, Harmonica take his arm because he has a terrible pain in it, and return on his horse.
Paramount cut the film down to 140 minutes for its U.S. theatrical release. The major scenes removed were (in chronological order): 1) The entire scene set at the watering station with the introduction of Cheyenne and his gang, and his encounter with Harmonica, 2) Mr. Morton's visit to Frank's cave, 3) Frank's return to the train where he discovers the bodies of both his and Cheyenne's gang as well as a near dead Mr. Morton, 4) the last and perhaps the most damaging removal: Cheyenne's death at the end was completely dropped; cut was directly from Jill looking at Harmonica and Cheyenne leaving to the train arriving. This version also ADDED one scene to the film that was not in the original 165 minute release, in which Harmonica gets up with a wounded arm after being shot in the opening scene. When it was run on U.S. network television, A.B.C. made edits to the 165 minute international version. Paramount's syndicated television version was also the international version (with edits). This meant that more of the film was shown on television than was seen in U.S. theaters.
The Hungarian cinematic version emits everything starting from 10 minutes from the end (including Cheyenne's death) by adding a "Vege" (Hungarian for "The End") title card. No Jason Robards falling off the horse, no Claudia Cardinale bringing water to the workers, no spinning title.
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.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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