From the majestic deconstruction of Western iconography in the masterful opening sequence to the liturgical expansion of detail, Leone's Western 'anti-Western' is conducted with unparalleled bravura. Capitalizing on the inflation of quintessential symbols in the genre it stretches them across the extremes of parody-tragedy and manages to turn them towards the collective forces of history. The stellar cast is superb!
'Have you made coffee', Robards one liner that gets coffee lovers like myself swooning. I wasn't giving this movie enough credit while watching and that's down to the run time. The plot is a bit sloppy but the chrisma of the main characters more than make up for it. Cardinale was a bit stale for my liking, at times you get the sense she's in the wrong genre of film. Fonda plays a great villian and Bronson is Bronson!
Yes, it’s beautiful to look at, and at times exhilarating in it’s cinematic panache, but as with much Leone there’s a stolidity to the enterprise, tailing off from an exciting opening half-hour with its elegiac reconstitution of Western stylistics into a dullish middle section of conventional genre mechanics. A polished pastiche of flyblown masculinity.
The opening scene, McBain family massacre and confrontation between Charles Bronson and Jason Robards are among the finest moments in cinema history. Morricone brings one of his most eclectic editions even though a surf-rock is dropped out. Unfortunately, the second half - that feels mostly like a dry costume drama - keeps it from being the greatest of all westerns.
I've spoilt the experience of watching the movie as soon as I realised that the Harmonica guy reminds me of Snufkin. Sorry, I couldn't take it seriously afterwards. Very Italian, occasionally too theatrical (the scene when she's so surprised by the Harmonica guy saying he's leaving). Music is probably worth separate full-scale article, but I'm sure there already is something out there so I won't bother
50 years after the original release of Once Upon a Time in the West, Sergio Leone's operatic western continues to be an outstanding and unique experience of Cinema. The Dollars trilogy was more entertaining, but here, Leone pays tribute to all the american masters that influenced his movies, not only because of all the genre references included, but also by the way it manages to paint a great epic about the final...
Leone killed the epic classic western genre as we know it as "West" told everything about the last gunmen in the west. It is also the film with the most ambitious camerawork, the best score, the coolest shoot-outs and the best hats. Gorgeous Claudia as the most missed whore, the icy cold blue eyes of Fonda and Bronson playing harmonica are moments forever frozen into my memory vortex. Sergio Leone - you are missed!
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is one of the great western movie out there. Supported by such a talented actors. Such as Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, and of course the good guy Henry Fonda who played a bad guy in this movie. It's quite surprising, you know. To see Henry Fonda playing as a cold, ruthless assassin. And he did a remarkable job. Damn, I loved that opening scene in the train station...
With Morricone at the top of his game, Leone closes in on the classic American staple just as civilization closes in on freedom under a wide, operatic scope of sweeping European grandeur. All hallmarks of the old fable are to be replaced (the good, the bad and the ugly) as the villain refuses the money, the hero refuses the girl, the man refuses domesticity all the while woman and society nears ‘round the bend.
3-4. Technically the meat of the meaning isn't much more complicated than the average western. But the presentation is so evocative and exquisite, playing on metaphors like the desert as sea (the promise of open, fertile possibility), the harmonica as a fragment of past sadness, etc. And these are layered atop taut, delicious tension and astonishingly tight shot composition. Those three hours just fly by.
Leone mastered the art of the Western with the Spaghetti trilogy, and took a more serious route with this epic. Within the first 30 minutes an entire family is slaughtered by Henry Fonda and things only go up from there. A perfect soundtrack and cast make this the ultimate western.