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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It might be a sacrilege to call this a better Spaghetti Western than
'The Good, the bad, and the Ugly' but i loved both the films equally.
The mellifluous soundtrack by Ennio Morricone further adds to the
greatness of the movie.
Jason Robards provides the much needed humor in the film.
Frank(Henry Fonda) and gang kill all the MacBains. Frank fakes evidence and makes everyone believe Cheyenne's hand behind the heinous crime. Frank's activities are funded by an affluent owner of the train company, Mr.Morton. The secret idea was to grab the land the MacBains live on, which could fetch them millions of dollars.
Their plans are thwarted by the arrival of a certain Mrs.MacBain, who refuses to sell the property to Frank, and a man who goes around playing harmonica. The man is after Frank to avenge his brother's death and with the help of Cheyenne, they bring his plans down one by one. They slowly decimate Frank's manpower, then take hold of the land through auction and then put a bullet in Frank's body. The man however doesn't wait for the bounty and leaves the town after accomplishing what he had come for. Cheyenne dies after being shot by a dying Mr.Morton and Mrs.MacBain decides to stay in the town and watch MacBains' town build and grow.
Awe-strucked! A completely different type of Cinema.. Who needs words
and explanations when the powerful force of cinematic mastery and some
heart- tearing music can do it all! Leone blends all the actors also
beautifully and typically into his style... None of these actors would
have acted again in the way they did for a Sergio Leone movie, I'm
A beautifully shot movie and those typical Sergio Leone Close Up scenes just build the tension and suspense... I'm waiting to see these typical Leone Close Ups in 'Django Unchained' as promised by Tarantino!
Leone's best movie for me! A full 5; nothing I could come up with that was less than perfect about this movie.
"Here's looking at you" might be Humphrey Bogart's trademark slogan,
but eyes in a Leone Spaghetti Western reveal much more emotions and
even plot than Bogey ever could convey with his. Sergio Leone made
extreme close-ups the dominant shots to explain character - and a look
into Frank's eyes (played by Henry Fonda), who was deliberately cast
against his usual character in "Once Upon a Time in the Wild West",
makes it perfectly clear why. There's no need for lengthy dialog if a
capable director can do so much more with style alone. And of all
around brilliant visuals in Leone's Westerns there is no shortage, no
doubt about that. If the widescreen scenery is as grand, deep and epic
a director can even deliberately allow the weight of silence to descend
on the viewer and let the image speak for itself.
Once sound effects are added to compositions like these they become more than nice enhancements or mere fillers, they turn into characters themselves of a total work of art. An art that reaches even higher levels if you take Ennio Morricone's melancholic score into account which rounds off this rare masterpiece. Morricone delves deep into the souls of characters, makes whole landscapes tangible, even develops plot of the powerful story. Add to that a flawless cast (aside from Fonda Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson and others star) and every lover of the moving picture is likely to be seriously moved. Or blown away if you haven't seen anything like this before. There are so many memorable shots in "Once Upon a Time in the Wild West" that one can stop counting them early on and take the whole thing as the ultimate template on how a great film should look like. Films like these are cinematic paradise, made for the history books, and every moment of it should be savored. Definitely one of the greatest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this for a month ago, and as soon as the opening scene begun
I was hooked. The mood, the silence and the wind blowing in the
sunlight. I consider this as one of the greatest openings for any
movie. It goes on for like ten minutes and when the train appear, you
wish the scene could have been lasted a little bit longer.
Charles Bronson plays the main character, his performance is similar to Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy. But he pulls it off pretty good, and through out the movie you get to know more about his past and why he's playing on the harmonica. You get to know a dark secret at the end, which makes the character fully developed. This right here makes the movie stronger then ''The Good The Bad and The Ugly''. Because in that movie you don't really get to know Clint Eastwood character, which makes him interesting. But you wish sometimes that you just could have get to known the character a little bit better.
But what is a western without an incredible soundtrack, well ''The Good The Bad and The Ugly'' is most known for Ennio Marricones fantastic soundtrack. But ''Once Upon A Time in The West'' is in my opinion better, it's so fantastic to listen to, that I can not even describe how amazing it is. You just got to listen.
Anyways, there is much more I love with this movie. But I don't wan't to ruin my hands writing every single detail I love. But I highly recommend this movie, even if your not a western fan it is worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with the other reviewers about the superlatives of this film but I haven't noticed a discussion on the use of the flashback so capably offered here. I am referring to Bronson's Harmonica recalling the incident that brought about his revenge for Fonda's Frank character: I am sure I will be corrected if this is in error but there are four total flashbacks where we get more information each time through a blurry recollection until in the final instance Fonda has the crystal clear flashback and we see Frank much younger committing his unspeakable crime. This fourth and final flashback clarifies to the villain and the film audience the motivation for the payback just as he finally "bites the dust". If you like Bronson here seek out the hard to find Rider on the Rain - not a Western but I think filmed in the same time period by a different director: At this time we can see Bronson is becoming this multi-national everyman hero that exploded his popularity. Truly watchable film entertainment that holds up beautifully upon repeat viewings.
With a style very much unlike that of his previous three Westerns, Once
Upon a Time in the West takes a long time to tell this epic and
powerful tale of three men all connected by their past and all destined
to connect in the future. The acting is universally excellent with
Fonda playing a very uncharacteristic part, but since he is such a
great actor he has no problem filling the shoes of the merciless
gunslinger, Frank. Jason Robards is great as the outlaw with a good
heart, Cheyenne; and Charles Bronson is very Eastwood-like as a man
known only as Harmonica with a mysterious past and a quick draw. The
central character, though, is that of the beautiful Claudia Cardinale
as Jill, a widow seeking revenge.
Sergio Leone used a slower, more romantic style for this Western, but he still was able to produce some great images and a story that will forever be remembered. He doesn't deal too much with character development, rather showing us their actions and letting that speak for themselves. And, of course we cannot forget the score by Ennio Moriconne. Though not as memorable as The Good, Bad and the Ugly, it adds a great deal to the film. Certainly one of the best Westerns ever made, this is film making at a very high degree.
I first saw this film as a 20 year old in the late 80's on VHS & ended up thoroughly disappointed. Every scene seemed to stretch to near-infinity and the action was too sporadic for what I normally expected from a western. Now, however, things are different! I saw it again a few days ago after reading so many positive reviews & I must admit to pretty much being bowled over! 'Once Upon A Time In The West' is not your traditional shoot-em-up western. Its an acquired taste and I wouldn't be too far off the mark if I say that it resembles a dish with near-perfect proportions of ingredients, slow cooked over an intense fire. Director Leone doffs his hat to several classic westerns and ends up with a film thats greater than the sum of its parts. The lovely Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale) arrives in the old west to join her new husband & family only to find them all brutally shot dead. Clues apparently point to the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards) though the dastardly deed has in fact been perpetrated by the magnificently evil Frank (Henry Fonda). Also in this lethal mix is a mysterious harmonica-playing stranger (Charles Bronson) with his own covert agenda. From the classic opening scene to the explosive climax, 'Once Upon A Time In The West' sucks the viewer into its vortex of emotions as layers upon layers are gradually peeled away revealing each characters true motivations. Featuring a stellar cast who have probably never been better, and a haunting, evocative score by maestro Ennio Morricone, 'Once Upon A Time In The West' is mandatory viewing for all film aficionado's. My only (small) complaint is the occasional self-indulgence displayed by Leone when he tends to give style precedence over narrative.
The so-called spaghetti Western achieved its apotheosis in Sergio Leone's magnificently mythic (and utterly outlandish) Once upon a Time in the West. After a series of international hits starring Clint Eastwood (from A Fistful of Dollars to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), Leone outdid himself with this spectacular, larger-than-life, horse-operatic epic about how the West was won. (And make no mistake: this is the wide, wide West, folks--so the widescreen/letter boxed version is strongly recommended.) The unholy trinity of Italian cinema--Leone, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento--concocted the story about a woman (Claudia Cardinale) hanging onto her land in hopes that the transcontinental railroad would reach her before a steely-eyed, black-hearted killer (Fonda) does. (The film's advertising slogan was: "There were three men in her life. One to take her ... one to love her ... and one to kill her.") Meanwhile, Leone shoots his stars' faces as if they were expansive Western landscapes, and their towering bodies as if they were looming rock formations in John Ford's Monument Valley
From the opening sequence of three non-verbal gunmen waiting for
someone at a train station, grimly determined through the flies, dust,
and leaky roof, to the inevitable quick-draw climax shot in extreme
close-up with little or no dialogue, Once Upon a Time in the West
astounds and entertains with its inventiveness, referencing of other
westerns, and its judicious use of actors' reactions to tell the story.
The influence of this film on modern movies is unmistakable. In the sudden demise of pseudo-protagonists in A History of Violence, or the complete vision-and-sound opening 20 minutes of There Will Be Blood, we see the ripples of Leone's first American masterpiece. At the time of writing revisionist westerns like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford are having their day in the sun. But put a Colt 45 to my head and make me choose between these two great movies, and I'll take Bronson's revenge-driven cool over Pitt's sado-masochistic angst every time.
Leone is a master of timing and pace. There isn't a missed beat here, but the sequence that most impresses is Henry Fonda's saloon exit into a street populated with assassins. In one sequence we have rising tension, new questions for the audience about Harmonica's motivations, and evidence that Frank is a formidable antagonist when he cleanly and economically picks off three gunmen.
Often acclaimed for its visual storytelling, the dialogue in Once is spectacularly high-calibre. From the first punched beat about the number of horses, through to Fonda's throwing down the gauntlet to a waiting Bronson, the dialogue continually stays true to the characters while moving the story forward and telling us something new. And sometimes it's funny.
It could reasonably be argued that this is the best western ever made, and will no doubt be number one on many people's all-time best film list. In short, a timeless classic.
I have heard throughout the reviews of this movie on the web and on the
extras of my $5 DVD from Walmart that Sergio Leone, the illustrious
director of this and the Dollars Trilogy, was a die-hard perfectionist.
He concentrated his efforts on the perfect picture to paint in the
viewer's head every scene he shot, and you know what? It worked.
As a result of Leone's close-up face shots (there are plenty), the tireless work put in to ensure the authenticity of every set, and the flawless acting from the entire cast (Bronson is particularly good here), this film brings together an ultimately simple story into a 3-hour masterpiece. I seriously can't think of a thing wrong with this movie, unless it's the fact that it's so good no western will ever compare to it.
Ennio Morricone's score brings everything together beautifully as each piece is always appropriate for its scene. The music is one of the integral parts of the movie, and as a result watching it is an experience best had when you have plenty of time with no distractions whatsoever, and not much on your mind. It's almost a disservice not to give it your full attention when watching.
Oh, didn't I say it already? See this movie. Now. If you already have? Fine, see it again.
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