Once Upon a Time in the West
9/10 (convoluted story)
I’m sorry, did you say that this comes from the same director who did the legendary “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly?” This was his follow-up film? Seriously? Did I hear correctly that it has Charles Bronson of “Death Wish” fame in the Man with No Name character? And you’re sure that it’s one of the best western epics ever made? You can’t possibly be serious: it stars All-American Hero and universally-loved Henry Fonda as a despicable villain? That simply sounds unbelievable. Okay, I give in, sign me up.
This is about how any conversation should go between someone who has seen the film and someone who has never heard of it. You have no excuse for not seeing it after being informed of all the above. And please do not confuse this with the horrible and overrated “Once Upon a Time in America.” They are two different films. One happens to be one of the best ever, and the other one of the worst. Strange I know, especially with two films that come from the same trilogy (1971’s “A Fistful of Dynamite”/”Duck you Sucker!”/”Once Upon a Time. . . the Revolution” was the tweener), although I suppose the “Godfather”s did the same thing.
So what more do you need to know? The story involves a greedy railroad tycoon in a murderous plot to drive out the widow of a visionary landowner. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale performs the role of the only strong female character that I’m aware of in a Leone film. There is a young and (to younger moviegoers) nearly-unrecognizable Jason Robards in a touching role as the bandit Cheyenne. There is Charles Bronson as “Harmonica” whose ass is so bad that analogies fail me at the moment. It’s the same epic scope, gorgeous cinematography and perfect score that Leone is famous for. The only negative is that the plot is a little too complex.
What else do you really want from me here? Just see it already.
24 March 2010
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