Sunday, November 27, 2011
Western Movie Reviews-Once Upon A Time In The West(1968)
Some consider The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly to be Sergio Leone masterpiece and it is a great movie in its one right and completes his Dollars Trilogy very well, but for me that was the warm up to what i consider to be his masterpiece which is his Western Epic Once Upon A Time In The West.
This movie is the product of two film geniuses Sergio Leone known for his western films of course and by Dario Argento that Dario Argento(many people do not know this) he helped Leone get this movie made.
This film has everything that The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly has and enhances it 10x. we have a very well thought out and paced film that feels almost like every scene is its on movie.
The opening sequence where three gunmen(Jack Elam, Woody Strode, Al Mulock) waiting for a train is probably one of the best openings in movie history, this sequence last almost ten minutes without any words being spoken, as we seat with these men waiting we get to see their different personalities most notable Jack Elam dealing with a fly that buzzes around him.
when the train finally does show up we still don't know who they are waiting for is it friend or foe, until the train pulls out of the station and the three men is revealed(along with the audience) standing on the other platform is a man with a Harmonica(Gone is Clint Eastwood but this time its Charles Bronson) the three gunmen and Bronson(simply known as Harmonica through out) have a few words before a blink and you miss it shootout occurs where Bronson is the last man alive.
The film as two conflicting stories going on. one being that of a revenge tale as Harmonica searches for a cold blooded killer who he has a legitmate problem with but we don't find out what it exactly is until the finale. and a land battle between a money hungry land baron and the widow of the massacred family Jill(Claudia Cardinale)
Both stories are connected by Frank(Henry Fonda) who leads the gang that kills Jill's family and is the same cold blooded killer that Harmonica is looking for, the relationship between these three is a interesting one as it almost seems like a love triangle as Jill becomes the woman caught in between this two men.
Of course a Sergio Leone film wouldn't be complete with having a Bandit and seemingly where Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was vicious here we have somewhat a flip side of that character in the form of Cheyenne (Jason Robards) who stumbles his way into everything that's going on(his entrance proves this) he is the man that Frank decides to frame for the massacre of the family since his gang is known for being the only ones who where those dusty coats.
Sergio Leone does an amazing directing job here with how he connects everything together and each sequence seemingly like its on little movie, Charles Bronson does a great job taking on the man with no name character here as Harmonica without saying to much his face speaks volumes in most of the scenes.
Claudia Cardinale as the sole female in this film does a great job as different sides of her character are displayed whenever she has a scene with the 3 male leads in particular her scenes with Jason Robards seems to bring out the truthfully sides to them both.
the biggest stand out in this movie for me and everyone who's seen it has to be without question Henry Fonda who plays a great villian after so many years always playing to ultimate good guy, here he is down right evil if you don't think he is just watch how he kills a little kid not because the kid might tell who did it but because one of his men called him by name.
Even though this is a Sergio Leone film it has a different feel to his previous Dollar trilogy and even to the films that he would make after this. one thing i enjoy about most movies are the stories and this movie has a great that is so enriched with detail that if Leone wanted to he could've made this a tv series that could've lasted for years.
at the time in the United States this movie was butchered thanks to the MPAA that had just been form at the time of its US release(1969) but as the years went by and more fans of the western genre and films in general were able to see the cut of the film that Leone intended for everybody to see, this movie is considered one of the greatest westerns or in my opinion one of the greatest movies every made.
This movie was also the end of the old west for Leone and the beginning of his Once upon a time trilogy which i'll post about those at a later date.
if you haven't seen this movie weather your a western fan or not this is just a great movie to the point that you won't even realize that this movie clocks in at a little under 3 hours long.