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C'era una volta il West

From The Spaghetti Western Database

C'era una volta il West (Italy 1968 / Director: Sergio Leone)

  • Runtime: 164 min / 165 min (Paramount DVD) / 177 min (special long version, Italian DVD)
  • Release Date: 21.12.68
  • Filming Locations: Almería, Guadix / US, Monument Valley

Also known as

Once Upon a Time in the West (U.S.A.) | Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod (Germany) | Il était une fois dans l'ouest (France) | Aconteceu no Oeste (Portugal) | Hasta que llegó su hora (Spain) | Harmonica - en hämnare (Sweden) | Pewnego razu na Dzikim Zachodzie (Poland) | Huuliharppukostaja (Finland) | Bir Zamanlar Batida (Turkey) | Era uma vez no Oeste (Brazil) | ウエスタン Western (Japan) | Tenkrát na Západě (Czechoslovakia) | روزی روزگاری در غرب (Iran) | Volt egyszer egy Vadnyugat (Hungary) | Имало едно време на запад (Bulgaria) | Едно време на запад (Bulgaria Betamax)

Cast and crew

  • Cast: Claudia Cardinale (Jill McBain), Henry Fonda (Frank), Jason Robards (Manuel 'Cheyenne' Gutierrez), Charles Bronson (Harmonica), Gabriele Ferzetti (Mr. Morton), Paolo Stoppa (Sam, Jill's taxi), Woody Strode (Stony, train station gunman), Jack Elam (Snaky, train station gunman), Marco Zuanelli (Wobbles), Benito Stefanelli (Frank's henchman, train), Keenan Wynn (sheriff of Flagstone), Frank Wolff (McBain), Lionel Stander (waystation barman), Livio Andronico, Salvatore Basile [as Salvo Basile] (Cheyenne henchman), Aldo Berti (Frank's henchman, train), Marilù Carteny (old lady at funeral ?), Luigi Ciavarro (deputy sheriff, Flagstone), Spartaco Conversi (Frank's henchman, train), Bruno Corazzari (Cheyenne henchman), Paolo Figlia (Frank's henchman, auction), Stefano Imparato, Frank Leslie, Luigi Magnani, Claudio Mancini (Harmonica's brother), Umberto Marsella, Enrico Morsella, Tullio Palmieri (carpenter), Renato Pinciroli (1st auction bidder), Conrado San Martin [as Corrado Sammartin] (McBain neighbor at funeral), Enzo Santaniello (Timmy McBain), Simonetta Santaniello (Maureen McBain), Sandra Salvatori, Claudio Scarchilli (deputy ?, scenes cut), Ivan Giovanni Scratuglia [as Ivan Scratuglia], Fabio Testi (Frank's henchman, auction), Dino Zamboni (man with gun in waystation)
  • Also with: Al Mulock (Knuckles, train station gunman), Luana Strode (Indian woman, train station), Ricardo Palacios (engineer), John Frederick (Jim, Frank's henchman, ranch), Michael Harvey (Frank's henchman, train), Antonio Molino Rojo (Frank's henchman, auction), Francisco Braña (Frank's henchman, auction), Don Galloway (Frank's henchman in flashback scene), Saturno Cerra (Frank's henchman, train), Lorenzo Robledo (Cheyenne henchman), Aldo Sambrell (Cheyenne henchman), Robert Spafford (railroad worker), Bill Crawley (railroad worker), Francesca Leone (girl at Flagstone station), Raffaella Leone (girl at Flagstone station), Regina Bissio (sleeping lady, waystation)
  • Story: Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Leone
  • Screenplay: Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati
  • Cinematography: Tonino Delli Colli (Technicolor, Techniscope 2,35:1)
  • Music: Ennio Morricone
  • Producer: Fulvio Morsella

Plot

Once upon a time three men are waiting at a railway station. Once upon a time a mysterious nameless harmonica player arrives who is relying on the past. Once upon a time an Irish man dreams of turning the desert into a paradise. Once upon a time a killer named Frank kills people to leave his past behind and to turn from a man into a business man. Once upon a time a whore from New Orleans named Jill has to realise that her dream of a family had been destroyed just before it could begin. Once upon a time a romantic bandit named Cheyenne helps to build a future which can't be his own. Once upon a time a railway tycoon dreams of building a railway from one ocean to another before multiple sclerosis will inevitably kill him. Once upon a time men kill and die for a future they don't understand and a woman inherits their broken dreams by turning a mother role into something bigger than she ever had imagined. Once upon a time, with the arrival of the railroad, the times are no longer what they were before.

Comments

Once upon a time Sergio Leone dreamt of a new form of western, and after having perfected this dream with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he even succeeded to bring with Once upon a Time in the West this dream further than anyone would have imagined. Into the dream of a dream.

For OUATITW Leone slowed down his style even more than he already had done before, to embrace with a widely sweeping gesture the founding mythos of John Ford westerns with the twilight ideas of a changing west of Sam Peckinpah, into a SW which transcended the genre into something completely different, and could at the same time be viewed as the sum of it. The elaborated narrative left many viewers behind and puzzled, even if the basic revenge story was eventually easy to understand when viewed from the end. Leone's imaginative use of majestic totals, extreme close ups, slow movements of camera and actors, amplified noises, endless seemingly pointless scenes, narrative ellipses and delays, iconographic faces, lovingly created ornate sets and costumes (the long dusters!), ritualistic duels (with the biggest action scenes not seen or only heard), and of course Ennio Morricones brilliant and beautiful score, all this and more is in OuTW blended together to a western so strange and daring and visually exceptional, that it was probably unthinkable 10 years earlier.

No wonder Once upon a Time in the West is meanwhile for many one of the best films ever.

by Stanton

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