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Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

C'era una volta il West (original title)
PG-13 | | Western | 4 July 1969 (USA)
Trailer
3:02 | Trailer
A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.

Director:

Sergio Leone

Writers:

Sergio Donati (screenplay by), Sergio Leone (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
697 ( 133)
Top Rated Movies #49 | 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Claudia Cardinale ... Jill McBain
Henry Fonda ... Frank
Jason Robards ... Manuel 'Cheyenne' Gutiérrez
Charles Bronson ... Harmonica
Gabriele Ferzetti ... Morton - Railroad Baron
Paolo Stoppa Paolo Stoppa ... Sam
Woody Strode ... Stony - Member of Frank's Gang
Jack Elam ... Snaky - Member of Frank's Gang
Keenan Wynn ... Sheriff - Auctioneer
Frank Wolff ... Brett McBain
Lionel Stander ... Barman
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Storyline

Jill McBain travels to the wild frontier; Utah - where she and her new husband planned to settle down. Upon arrival, she finds him and his children dead. There's a lot of land, and potential, but there's those who want to take it - at any cost. Even if it means killing a man and his kids. Written by DrGoodBeat / edited by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There were three men in her life. One knew her past. One wanted her land. One wanted revenge. See more »

Genres:

Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for western violence and brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sergio Leone: [theme] Jill, Harmonica/Frank, Cheyenne, and Morton. See more »

Goofs

As the speed of rotation of the wind-pump sails varies, the sound of the squeak does not. At no point does it match the period of rotation. See more »

Quotes

[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

Lionel Stander receives on screen credit in the original U.S. theatre release prints even though his part was completely cut out of this shortened version. See more »

Alternate Versions

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. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Red Dead Revolver (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Addio A Cheyenne
Whistle: Alessandro Alessandroni
Composed, Orchestrated and Conducted by Ennio Morricone
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ricordi srl
(P) 1969 Sergio Leone Productions
See more »

User Reviews

More Western than 'The Western' itself
24 April 2019 | by TheDragonTraderSee all my reviews

In full silence, three mysterious men in long trench coats wait in a remote train station. Their faces have anticipation written all over them, even while the most interesting things they can find to do are toying with a fly, drinking water from a hat and cracking their fingers. A dog runs past. The windmill squeaks. The ticket vendor is locked away. The heath bounces off the wooden platform. The men sweat. Are you bored yet? Then this movie is probably not for you. But are you dying to know what the three men are waiting for? Does a light anxiety creep onto you whilst reading that description? Can't you wait for the tension to resolve? Then this movie is all you ever wanted.

The almost lawless world where outlaws and bandits roam the country with ease that is the setting of the story, is shown by Tonino Delli Colli (director of photography) in all its splendorous grandeur and it's uncountable little details. The set pieces, the costumes and the real life locations in Arizona and Utah make everything believable. And together with the characters and figurants, everything creates a vibrant and utterly believable Western civilisation.

Charles Bronson plays the man with the harmonica: a lone wolf looking for something that he chooses not to reveal to anyone until he gets it. A character with no name roaming the endless fields under the sun, announcing his presence at all times with the same melody he plays on his harmonica that echo's in an unsettling way. Bronson does this brilliantly, with a face that overflows with held back emotions and a determination that is downright scary.

In a tavern the man meets Manuel 'Cheyenne' Gutiérrez (Jason Robards), a bandit that recently escaped being hung by the neck, re-joining his band of outlaws. With already greying hair, he takes on the situation that arises in the area, trying his part to be the hero that saves the day. Robards portrays a character that, by only one look at him, we can see how the years have shaped him. His performance is outstanding; we want to grab a drink with Cheyenne, but we also get the feeling that being on your guard around him wouldn't be an overrated luxury.

The 'damsel in distress' (although she isn't in the original meaning of the word) Jill McBain (played by Claudia Cardinale) turns into a toy of Fate itself. Without any warning she gets involved in something quite over her head, but she handles it masterfully; she refuses to return to New Orleans with her tail between her legs and stays to face the difficulties put before her. Cardinale playing Jill is both an erotic marvel and a woman you wouldn't want to cross.

They are all opposed by Frank (Henry Fonda): the local gang leader with a heart of stone and a business proposal at the ready at all times. With his ruthless blue eyes and his gun at the ready he keeps the town quiet. Fonda gives you the creeps with just one gaze at the camera and every sentence leaves the bitter taste of malfeasance.

And finally, Gabriele Ferzetti finishes the line of main characters with his deliciously sickening portrayal of the crippled railroad baron Morton. A character that you'd like to slap in the face, but one you feel pity for as well. Outstandingly brought!

The soundtrack is composed by the never beaten maestro of film scoring himself: Ennio Morricone. His genius lies in the creation of themes and melodies that will haunt your dreams forever for better or worse. The melancholic main theme that is brought with a heavenly choir draws tears from your eyes after hearing only a couple of chords. The theme of the man with the harmonica is as unsettling as it is epic and Cheyennes' theme creates the lighter counter points in the movie. Morricone uses these motifs ingeniously, hinting at plot points, character motifs and feelings and giving you a sense of the world the movie takes place in. If I could give twelve out of ten stars for the score, I'd do it.

Sergio Leone was a masterful director, no need to prove that. He manages to turn even a scene of seven minutes, where three men are merely waiting for a train, into an epic storyline. Two hours and three quarters the tension builds and then resolves... partially, always building towards the end. And that finale! That finale! That finale chilled me to the bone! Throughout the film, question after question is raised, and when one question is answered, another one pops up. So when all pieces of the puzzle fall into place to the score of Ennio Morricone, how can one not be moved by it?

For Leone, there was no better way to reach the top of the Western genre. And for us, there never will be a film that is more Western than 'Once Upon a Time in the West'.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Italy | USA

Language:

Italian | English | Spanish

Release Date:

4 July 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

There Was Once the West See more »

Filming Locations:

Bavispe, Sonora, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$112,229
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (1970) | (theatrical) | (U.S. theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (2003 DVD release)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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