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|Index||577 reviews in total|
This film is so good it hurts. The cast. Oh my God, the cast. Henry Fonda was the perfect bad guy. He even fit the look. Charles Bronson is always top perfect in a western, and Jason Robards was fantastic as a grungy gang leader. Claudia Cardinal. Need I say more. The story is excellent, and Leone's direction is never at fault. While Morricone is not known for this score, it is quite good and fitting as always. It all just adds up to a perfect film in my eyes. On a side note, nobody builds up tension prior to a shootout like Leone. See The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for another perfect example.
I had heard about this movie, but I hadn't seen it until when my mother came
home with the tape. I watched that and really like it. It's beautifully made
and the performances are very good.
Together with "El Dorado", this is certainly one of the best western film ever made. The music by Morricone is wonderful and "Once Upon a Time in the West" is something we can't miss. Actually, it must be seen more than once.
'I wouldn't say when you've seen one Western you've seen the lot; but when
you've seen the lot you get the feeling you've seen one.'
Katharine Whitehorn Sunday Best (1976)
The traditional accusation is that Once upon a Time in the West offers nothing new to the genre but merely replays highlights from his previous classic Western movies. This is, however, a simple evaluation demonstrating a simple prejudice against the director or the genre. It is not a true evaluation of the film itself which is a stunning melodrama filmed in breathtaking manner, garnished with stars (including Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Keenan Wynn and Western movie favourite Jack Elam) and, to top it all off perfectly, one of the greatest film scores ever written from Ennio Morricone.
While it is astonishing in hindsight to note that this masterpiece from one of cinema's most talented directors was not even nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (the dreary and inexplicably popular musical [Oliver!] won), it borders on criminal that Morricone's incredible score was not nominated either (it was won by [The Lion in Winter]). As seems typical of masterpieces, they simply are not appreciated in their own time but masterpiece this is.
Given that Leone also directed all three of the 'Dollars' trilogy ([A Fistful of Dollars], [For a Few Dollars More] and [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly]), it is truly remarkable that this movie proved to be even better. There are very few films that can claim to be the greatest Western of all time and this is one of the strongest contenders. I would probably shortlist [For a Few Dollars More], [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly], [High Noon], [The Magnificent Seven] and [The Shootist] in the search for the best Western of all time. Leone also directed the first two of that list and the star of this movie, Charles Bronson, also appeared in [The Magnificent Seven]. However, Once Upon a Time in the West is, in my opinion, even better than all those films.
In 1981, a few weeks after my 16 th birthday I had great luck, 'cause "Once a time in the west" (Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod in Germany - Play the song of death for me) this movie had been played in our local cinema. A waited a lot of years so that I was allowed to see this 16 rated movie. And I saw it 3 times in one week and than every time it was in cinema since then (and in the eighties it was every summer for a few days in our local cinema, and every time it was sold out). There are less movies I saw that often then "in the West". Every time it's a party for the eyes and the soul, even when it's in TV not as good than on cinema. As many people told before, Ennio Morricone made one of the best score ever. It's funny, that he wrote the score before Leone made the first picture of the movie. After Leone told him the story, Morricone wrote the music. And during the working on the movie Leone played the music for his actors. I hope they soon will publish a DVD.
Along with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, here is a movie which sits at the top of it's genre. Both it and Pat Garrett make me feel that to watch any other Western for development of the genre, is a hopeless exercise. A beautiful film, with a rythym and pace so effective that every film student should be forced to see it. An amazing cast added to a soundtrack that pulls every heart string, make Once upon a Time in the West one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. My only gripe is that it has as yet failed to make it's debut on DVD - Come on! get it together.
Sergio Leone set out to create the ultimate western here, and succeeded. Combining pieces from all of the great westerns that preceded it, he made a one of a kind film. Showing the natural progression from his first three westerns to here, he more or less takes a lot of the same themes and ideas from those and pulled them together. More epic and operatic than `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,' and without the lightheartedness that gave that film it's undeniable uniqueness. Instead, Leone focuses more on the dark side of the west, and the dark side of human nature as well. The four main players, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Claudia Cardinale, all give the performances of the lifetime. From a filmmaking standpoint, few movies have ever been so perfect the combination of gorgeous cinematography, incredible music, and the sheer style are second to none. A true masterpiece.
Sergio Leone is definitly the maestro of direction. The scene before the opening credits (when Charles Bronson kill three bad guys) show us the care with little details that Leone had. The fly in the face of the bandit and the way that it killed are hilarious and strong at the same time. Harmonica (character of Bronson) reveal the duality of personality, usual in Leone's films. The music of Ennio Morricone is classical. However, every western fan have to see this movie.
My most favourite part of this great movie is the opening scene during the
credits. There's very little dialogue, but the sounds and the camera shots
tell the story and give you a atmosphere not often felt during movies. It's
too bad more directors don't follow Sergio's lead here and give their films
so much feeling and atmosphere. All done with a fly, dripping water and
some creaking wood.
To end the fabulous opening, the line "No. You brought two too many!", gives
you an suspenseful anticipation of what is to come next.
My favourite western movie by far.
What's left to say about this incredible western? As usual, each character have his or her own musical theme, but--not as usual-- the themes combine in ways that indicate the interactions and symbolism of each character. Harmonica and Frank are emotionally and thematically joined at the hip. Their themes intertwine just as their life lines do. Cheyenne's theme, which can be, at different times, either comical or threatening, reflects his outmoded lifestyle, which we see being replaced by the lifestyle of the town folk. Jill is the whore who becomes the mother (or midwife) of the emerging civilization being born in the desert with the coming of the railroad. Her theme is also the theme of that civilization. Watch the scene where she leaves the railroad station, hires a driver and rides through the railroad town. This is not the archetypal western town of Hollywood with a saloon and a few horses tied up at the hitching post. It is a bustling, living entity, with shops, public transportation, respectable women and men going about their business. And Jill, although she comes from the "big city"--New Orleans--, is quite pleased by it all. By the end of the film, she will be the founder of the next town on the railroad's path. Relax, get to know each of the four major characters, listen to the music, and don't rush through it. This is an epic!
From Sergio Leone's quirky directing, to Ennio Morricone's vibrant score
(you know, that one song the lady sings throughout the film), and somewhere
inbetween a glorious script that shows us many characters, connected by
circumstance and goodness, written by horror auteur Dario Argento, Once Upon
a Time in the West is one of the finest films ever made.
It's timelessness is overwhelming, considering it was shot in the sixties, and I saw it for the first time in the new millenium. The story is told with acting, not recitation. Each character is totally fleshed out to the end, every close up showing another outlook on things. Henry Fonda as a bad guy, sure, but we never really grasp how bad. Why Not? Because Fonda is so good in this brilliant role that it takes an entire film to actually not like his character.
Jason Robards and Charles Bronson give some of the best performances of their lives, particularly Bronson. His face is so unaffected in one shot, and then utterly emotive the next. Bronson utterly emobodies "Harmonica" as he's known. His motives are unclear. Is he a just outlaw, or a marshall with a vendetta? Just who is he? Fonda's character wants to know as badly as we do.
Robards provides the good man from a bad past story line. Sure, Cheyenne is a criminal, but deep down, he means well. He really does. So much to say about this film, where do I end it? I guess all I can say is that it is an extremely absorbing tale which will have you thinking for weeks to come. And for those film buffs out there who have actually taken a film course, this film is the perfect example of the Show don't Tell rule of cinema.
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