Once Upon A Time In The West

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Rafran-San Marco Released 1968

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9.3
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Movie Summary

Director:
Sergio Leone
Released:
1968
Rating:
PG-13

Once Upon a Time in the West is considered by many not only to be Sergio Leone's greatest film, but perhaps the greatest western film of all time. Released in 1968, the film was made after Sergio Leone's "The Man With No Name" series, and reteams Leone with fabled composer Ennio Morricone, who produces another score for the ages. Once Upon a Time in the West at it's core, like the rest of Leone's spaghetti westerns, is a very simple movie. It tells the story of a patch of land that is made important by the impending railroad that must travel through it on its ever-moving journey west. At the center of the struggle are Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale), the widow who owns the property, and Frank (Henry Fonda), the hired gun of the millionaire railroad tycoon that wants the property. Adding mystery to the story is an unknown gunslinger (Charles Bronson) with a love for his harmonica and a score to settle. In 2009, Once Upon a Time in the West was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress with the intention of preserving the monumental work for all time.

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Metacritic Score

  • 70

    Variety

    Henry Fonda and Jason Robards relish each screen minute as the heavies, and Charles Bronson plays Clint Eastwood's 'man with no name' role. (Review of Original Release)

  • 63

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Good fun, especially if you like Leone's way of savoring the last morsel of every scene. (Review of Original Release)

  • 60

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    The biggest, longest, most expensive Leone Western to date, and, in many ways, the most absurd... Granting the fact that it is quite bad, Once Upon the Time in the West is almost a...

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Harmonica: (meeting Frank's Gang at the rail station) Did you bring a horse for me?
      Snaky: Well, looks like we're shy one horse.
      Harmonica: (shakes head) You brought two too many.

    • Wobbles: You've known me a long time, Frank. You know you can trust me.
      Frank: Wobbles, how can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can't even trust his own pants!

    • Morton: (referring to the McBain massacre) Tell me, was it necessary that you kill all of them? I only told you to scare them!
      Frank: People scare better when they're dying.

    • Cheyenne: (after Harmonica inspects his partner's duster) You interested in fashions, Harmonica?
      Harmonica: I saw three of these dusters a short time ago. They were waiting for a train. Inside the dusters, there were three men.
      Cheyenne: So?
      Harmonica: Inside the men, there were three bullets.

  • NOTES (5)

    • The Flagstone set was built on 100 acres of land that Sergio Leone leased near Calahorra, Spain. Including the railroad, the town was built for about $250,000--more than the entire budget of Leone's first western, Fistful of Dollars. Designer Carlo Simi used archival photographs of El Paso, Texas to ensure that the set had an authentic appearance.

    • A scene was filmed (but deleted from the final cut) that featured Harmonica being arrrested and beaten by the sheriff. This would explain why Harmonica shows up at the McBain ranch with a large cut on his face. The footage from this missing scene is presumed to be lost, and only a few stills are known to exist.

    • The major parts of Morricone's score were recorded before the primary photography of the film began. This enabled Leone to play tapes of the actual background music while the scenes were filmed in order to provide the intended atmosphere for the actors to work with.

    • Although the exterior shots of the trading post were filmed in Arizona, the interior shots were actually filmed at Cinecitta in Italy. Sergio Leone imported several bags of Monument Valley's red, dusty sand to blow through the door when Cheyenne's gang enters the trading post.

    • As a homage to John Ford's films, Sergio Leone filmed several scenes in Arizona's Monument Valley region. It was an unusual departure for an Italian filmmaker, as most Spaghetti Westerns were filmed entirely in either Spain or Italy.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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Themes

Westerns, Military & War