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C'era una volta il West
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Reviews & Ratings for
Once Upon a Time in the West More at IMDbPro »C'era una volta il West (original title)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Best Western Ever Made

Author: thomas_doyle ( from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
7 February 2001

Sergio Leone's finest achievement with an excellent ensemble cast that features: Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Lionel Stander, Jack Elam, Woody Strode, Keenan Wynn. Ennio Moricone provides a sweeping score and the script was co-written with Bernardo Bertolucci. They don't make 'em like this anymore...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The best western. One of the ten best movies ever.

Author: David S. ( from Copenhagen, Denmark
23 September 1999

I rate Once Upon a Time in The West among my ten favorite movies of all time. The masterful way Sergio Leone conducts mood, atmosphere and pace is without equal, and his presentation of the main characters is brilliant. Thus Charles Bronson delivers the performance of his life as the man with the harmonica, Jason Robards is a pleasure to watch as the anti-hero Cheyenne and Henry Fonda is brilliantly cast as perhaps the most evil villain in movie history. What can I say? I just love this movie.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

As good as they come.

Author: Bernard Andrioli from The Hague, Holland
16 June 1999

This movie certainly makes my top three of all times. Good story, convincing actors (even Charles Bronson), Terrific camerawork and above all the masterwork of Ennio Morricone who in my opinion made the best film music on this movie so far if not for all times. And of course Claudia Cardinale is always a sight for sore eyes.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Find this film and see it!

Author: anonymous from Manhattan
14 April 1999

Really incredible. I'll never forget having first seen it. The film is long but very carefully paced. It builds and builds to the most amazing climax. The duel between Bronson and Fonda is the BEST! Those flashbacks and the look in Fonda's eyes when he gets that mouthful of harmonica makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end just by thinking about it! Masterfully directed by Leone and co-written by a then future masterful filmmaker--Dario Argento.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Who cares that Clint Eastwood isn't in this film?

Author: Edward J. Cunningham ( from Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.
8 January 1999

It has been said many times that the role of "Harmonica" was intended for Clint Eastwood. But I think it's enormously unfair to Charles Bronson to endlessly speculate on what Eastwood may or may not had done. Who cares? Eastwood had his chance and turned it down. Bronson seized it and made the most of it. Not only do I think that "West" is Bronson's best movie, I think Bronson does a better job in this film than Eastwood in the "spaghetti trilogy".

If you think about it, all three leads in this film are cast against type. Charles Bronson is not the type of actor you'd think of for a lead as a hero (although he did a great job in "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape.") The average person thinks of Jason Robards as a crotchety grandfather, certainly not a cunning outlaw a la "Tuco" in "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." And was there ever a more unlikely villain in screen history than Henry Fonda, who build a career on playing sincere, kind protagonists? (By the way, Fonda's role was originally intended for John Wayne, who turned it down.) And yet all of these great actors make you forget their other personnas and suck you into Sergio Leone's world...

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It has a few good trademark Sergio Leone touches, but as a whole it's surprisingly unsatisfying and is far from Leone's best work

Author: jimbo-53-186511 from United Kingdom
11 September 2016

Once Upon A Time In The West tells the story of two men Harmonica (Charles Bronson) and Cheyenne who both join forces to protect a widow Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale) from a ruthless assassin Frank (Henry Fonda) and his men. Although both men show great chivalry it turns out that protecting Jill isn't their only priority and both men have personal agendas with Frank.

I've seen a few Sergio Leone films and have enjoyed a great number of them. He's an interesting filmmaker who does possess a gift for building up tension and suspense in the simplest of manners; the start of this film is classic Leone - there's about a 15 minute section with no dialogue where we're just basically seeing close ups of a bunch of men and see the camera pan in and out and around the area. We also hear things like wind turbines spinning round and drops of water falling on heads etc. It all sounds rather poor when you put in all I writing, but when watching it on screen it is quite compelling (in an odd sort of way).

Once Upon A Time In The West gets off to an impressive start, but unfortunately the wheels seem to come off very early on. Charles Bronson makes an appearance early in the film but then disappears for an awful long time. I also felt that there wasn't enough focus on the rivalry between the 3 men - I expected there to be more confrontations and showdowns which undoubtedly would have made the picture miles more enjoyable. Unfortunately, a lot of the focus and attention went on Jill McBain (yes she's attractive and important to the story), but she isn't a particularly interesting character and her acting isn't brilliant either which ultimately made large parts of the film feel rather dull.

Thankfully, many other cast members do put on a good show and try their best to make up for the rather tedious story; Henry Fonda seemed like an odd casting choice here but he is OK (although I would have loved it if Lee Van Cleef played the role of his character). Jason Robards is good and Bronson was one of the coolest actors of his era and effortlessly carries the film when the opportunity arises.

The biggest problem with this film is quite simply that the story isn't very strong and isn't particularly engaging; there's very little in the way of character development and it doesn't help that Leone plays the film very straight (there's little in the way of light-hearted humour here which is a great shame).

The film throws in a plot twist at the end which does explain one character's motivation, but to me it still felt a bit lazy (as though Leone thinks a last minute twist can make up for the lack of development or insight that he offers his audience to any of his characters).

Once Upon A Time In The West does have some nice touches, some good performances and some cool scenes, but to me it all just feels a bit half-hearted and lazy and I just found myself bored rigid by the largely uninteresting story. I have liked every other Leone film that I've seen thus far, but this one left me feeling cold and slightly disappointed.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An epic Western!

Author: estebangonzalez10 from Ecuador
27 March 2015

"Do you know anything about a guy going around playing the harmonica? He's someone you'd remember. Instead of talking, he plays. And when he better play, he talks."

What a pleasure it was for me to finally get to watch this masterpiece which I kept on putting off because of its nearly three hour runtime. I was blown away by Sergio Leone's direction in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and that was the only film of his that I'd seen up to this point, but now I honestly can't say which of the two films I prefer. This is perhaps a better film because it is set on a grander and epic scale, but perhaps not as entertaining as the other. Both films have terrific performances with memorable characters and a masterful score composed by Ennio Morricone that accompanies Tonino Delli Colli's beautiful cinematography. Leone's exaggerated close ups show us the dirt and the sweat coming out of these grim people's faces and it's juxtaposed perfectly with these extremely long shots of the vastness of the Western valley. I can't imagine liking this film more than I already do, but it is clear that these films were made to experience them in the big screen and it's a pity I couldn't do so. There are also many memorable quotes in this film and I absolutely loved the screenplay. For the first 90 minutes or so I wasn't sure what direction the movie was heading and that is what I liked about this film since it had me guessing at some of the characters motivations and where the plot was trying to go. The characters have a lot depth and not even the villain is portrayed in a stereotypical way. Along with Unforgiven these are the three best Westerns I've seen so you can bet I will watch more of Leone's spaghetti westerns in the future.

The film couldn't open in a more spectacular fashion as the camera follows three gunmen waiting for someone at a station. Once the train arrives, the men don't find who they are waiting for and as they are walking away they hear someone playing a harmonica. It is the mysterious man they've been expecting (Charles Bronson) who asks them where Frank is. They've been sent to kill him, but Harmonica is too quick for their guns and finishes them off claiming they "have brought two horses too many." Then we are introduced to a recently married family man who is living on his deserted property with his three children and expecting his new wife to arrive that very day, but a group of bandits led by blue eyed Frank (Henry Fonda) kills them all one by one for reasons that aren't explained yet. The bride, Jill (Claudia Cardinale), arrives to find them all murdered and the officers find evidence that lead them to believe that the outlaw Cheyenne (Jason Robards) is responsible. The lives of these three men all intersect with Jill's and as the story develops the plot and mystery unfolds.

Sergio Leone had me engaged with the film from the very opening sequence and he sets the slow paced tone rather quickly. He takes his time to let the action unfold but thanks to the beautiful cinematography and the gripping score I was never bored for a minute. I was continually trying to guess what was going on and what the motivation of each character truly was. I was surprised that Leone decided to have Ford's character shoot a young kid in a very early scene in the movie, and I can only imagine what a shocker that must have been for audiences during that time who were used to seeing Ford play the hero. Bronson is mysterious but it is rather obvious from the beginning what his intentions are. He still delivers a gripping performance as this mysterious character and when his backstory is finally revealed it all pays off. It was Robards' character who had me guessing at times what his real intentions were. At first I believed he was going to be one of the main villains, but he delivers most of the funny scenes and was perhaps one of the best characters in the film. The breathtaking Claudia Cardinale may have not been given a strong female role, but she wasn't simply a damsel in distress and she seemed to know what she was doing. Once Upon a Time in the West is not a straightforward revenge story and it blends several tones throughout the film having you sympathize with each character at different points of the story. Leone maintained the thrilling atmosphere for its entire runtime and the final showdown is rewarding. This is an epic masterpiece and a new addition to my favorite movies of all time list that I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to experience.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My Favourite Film of All Time

Author: Reelvtec from Canada
14 January 2014

"Once Upon a Time in the West", directed by Sergio Leone is without a doubt, the single greatest film I have ever watched.

Everything from the near silent opening scene to the monumentally epic final moments is pure cinematic perfection. This film also has some of the best cinematography of any Western and the score by Ennio Morricone still stands today as one of the most beautiful and powerful pieces of music ever composed for the big screen.

At over 3 hours long its quite a long movie to watch and because of the very little dialogue it might be "boring" for few, but anyone who truly respects and loves the art of cinema will fall in love with this epic film.

10/10 go watch it right now

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"they call them millions"

Author: adam_pittavino from Australia
2 August 2013

For me, no other movie has captured the Wild West like Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West. When a mysterious stranger with a harmonica protects a beautiful but naive widow from a ruthless train baron and his hired gun, they all soon discover that much more than prized land is at stake.This is more than a movie, it's an experience in my mind, a piece of history, as the west is portrayed as a haunting brutal land that discriminates against absolutely no-one. From the eerie silent opening to the unimaginable and unforgettable ending, Leone takes you down a path that hasn't been explored in a western before or since. 10 outta 10 guaranteed!!!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Love of Cinema

Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
31 May 2013

In an age of quick cuts, shaky Camera and CGI, this Film will likely be a hard watch for the post ADD Generation. It is SLOW. The Cinematography lingers. The lines of Dialog are at the most minimum. It is LONG.

So why is this considered one of the best Westerns ever. Because it is. An achievement that is a testament to the insatiable Love of Cinema, as Art, that the Europeans unabashedly utilize, like the Hug. They are not shy about physical displays of such Affection. That is the essence of this Film. Leone is a Lover and a Hugger. He is constantly hugging this Movie Loving every minute of it.

He Loves the Genre, He Loves the Camera, He loves the Actors Faces, He loves the Landscape, he loves the Mythology, He just Loves and Loves. All that is apparent on the screen. Most likely that is why it is so lengthy. He Loved it all.

What emerges is an Authentic Fantasy. There is on display a gorgeousity of grandeur that is quite a sight. Behold its panorama and its larger than Life Characters with their own quirky Personas and accompanying Musical Riffs. This is so playful and fun. It is all done for the Lovers of the World. Mostly, the Lovers of Movies.

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