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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)
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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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1,130 ( 93)
Top Rated Movies #37 | 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

Story of a young woman, Mrs. McBain, who moves from New Orleans to frontier Utah, on the very edge of the American West. She arrives to find her new husband and family slaughtered, but by whom? The prime suspect, coffee-lover Cheyenne, befriends her and offers to go after the real killer, assassin gang leader Frank, in her honor. He is accompanied by Harmonica, a man already on a quest to get even. Written by DrGoodBeat / edited by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There were three men in her life. One to take her... one to love her... and one to kill her.

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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Details

Country:

Italy | USA

Language:

Italian | 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)

Gross USA:

$5,321,508, 22 June 1984
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (1970) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby (2003 DVD release)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Bronson plays a harmonica in this film and also played a harmonica in Robert Aldrich's Vera Cruz (1954) 14 years earlier, a film that had considerable influence on Leone. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene, Stony (Woody Strode) is drinking water from his hat. Later, when the three shooters are standing across from Harmonica, his hat is covered with dust. 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

The film's title does not appear until the end of the final scene. 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 Ijon Tichy: Raumpilot: Kosmische Kollegen (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

La Posada N.1
Composed By, Orchestrated and Conducted by Ennio Morricone
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ricordi srl
(P) 1969 Sergio Leone Productions
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Without a doubt, one of the best Westerns of all time
30 September 2017 | by Jeremy_UrquhartSee all my reviews

I won't claim to have the ability to say anything new about this movie. It's been around for nearly fifty years, and is widely regarded as not just one the best Spaghetti Westerns of all time, but one of the best Westerns full stop. And it's not hard to see why: an incredible soundtrack, strong performances from the entire main cast, some surprisingly good humour and funny one-liners, a few tense sequences, a well-told story that doesn't rely on excessive dialogue or exposition, and consistently amazing cinematography and direction throughout. At least half the frames in this movie would probably make good paintings- no exaggeration.

It's probably the marriage of the great visuals and soundtrack that make Once Upon a Time in the West work as well as it does. There's a good number of dramatic camera movements and interesting reveals that are tied up perfectly with the music- almost like some kind of singing-free musical at some points.

Sergio Leone was one of the greatest directors of all time. It's a real shame that he apparently never got the kind of recognition he gets nowadays while he was still alive. Out of all his films, there's a strong argument to be made for this one being the closest to perfect. Honestly, there's not a lot that could be changed to make it better. My biggest direct gripe is the way the title pops up at the very end of the film, and rotates in a full circle before it disappears. It looks really cheesy, and comes close to killing the mood the otherwise extremely strong ending creates. While we're on complaints, another minor one would be that I want to say the film feels a little too long- maybe about 10 to 15 minutes. But at the same time, I wouldn't really know what to cut. Every scene is so well-constructed and orchestrated, and there's always something interesting to look at or listen to or think about, so I'm not really sure what should be cut. It's a pretty weak complaint, I know. Like I said, this thing's close to perfect.

The Good The Bad and The Ugly might be a tiny bit more entertaining, and Once Upon a Time in America might have a slightly better soundtrack and stronger emotional moments (for me, personally), but it's still really hard to find much to complain about here. Absolutely recommended to any Western fan, and it gets a little better every time I watch it (four for me now, and counting).


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