Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

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    Originally:- C'era una volta il West


    Photo with the courtesy of Gorch

    Information From IMDb

    Plot Summary
    Story of a young woman, Mrs. McBain, who moves from New Orleans to frontier Utah, on the very edge of the American West. She arrives to find her new husband and family slaughtered, but by who? The prime suspect, coffee-lover Cheyenne, befriends her and offers to go after the real killer, assassin gang leader Frank, in her honor. He is accompanied by Harmonica on his quest to get even. Get-rich-quick subplots and intricate character histories intertwine with such artistic flair that this could in fact be the movie-to-end-all-movies.
    Written by DrGoodBeat

    Henry Fonda ... Frank
    Claudia Cardinale ... Jill McBain
    Jason Robards ... Cheyenne
    Charles Bronson ... Harmonica
    Gabriele Ferzetti ... Morton (railroad baron)
    Paolo Stoppa ... Sam
    Woody Strode ... Stony (member of Frank's gang)
    Jack Elam ... Snaky (member of Frank's gang)
    Keenan Wynn ... Sheriff (auctioneer)
    Frank Wolff ... Brett McBain
    Lionel Stander ... Barman
    And many others, including some of Leone's family

    Writing credits
    Dario Argento (story) &
    Bernardo Bertolucci (story) &
    Sergio Leone (story)
    Sergio Leone (screenplay) &
    Sergio Donati (screenplay)
    Mickey Knox (dialogue: English version)

    Original Music
    Ennio Morricone

    Filming locations
    Arizona, USA
    Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, Italy
    La Calahorra, Granada, Andalucía, Spain
    Moab, Utah, USA
    Monument Valley, Arizona, USA (exteriors)
    Tabernas, Almería, Andalucía, Spain
    Utah, USA

    * Al Mulock, who played one of the three gunmen in the opening sequence, committed suicide by jumping from his hotel window in full costume after a day's shooting. Production manager Claudio Mancini and screenwriter Mickey Knox, who were sitting in a room in the hotel, witnessed Mulock's body pass by their window. Knox recalled in an interview that while Mancini put Mulock in his car to drive him to the hospital, director Sergio Leone said to Mancini, "Get the costume! We need the costume!" Mulock, who had appeared as the one-armed bounty hunter in Leone's "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly", was wearing the costume he wore in the movie when he made his fatal leap.

    * Body count: 29

    * Henry Fonda originally turned down a role in the picture. Director Sergio Leone flew to the United States and met with Fonda, who asked why he was wanted for the movie. Sergio replied, "Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera pans up to the gunman's face and... it's Henry Fonda." (Until then, and with one exception, Fonda had only been cast in "good guy" roles. Leone wanted the audience to be shocked.)

    * After completing the Dollars trilogy (Per un pugno di dollari (1964), Per qualche dollaro in più (1965), and Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)), Sergio Leone didn't want to do another western and began working on Once Upon a Time in America (1984). However, after the huge success of the Dollars Trilogy in the States in 1967 Leone wanted to produce films in the United States and he began selling the idea for Once Upon a Time in America, but studios wouldn't let him do it until he made another Western for them. After thinking about it, Leone concluded that he should do another trilogy which begins with C'era una volta il West (1968), develops into Giù la testa (1971), and ends with Once Upon a Time in America (1984). "Three historical periods which toughened America."

    * The Flagstone set reportedly cost as much as the entire budget for Leone's Per un pugno di dollari (1964).

    * The main selling point to producers for the use of the Techniscope process was the savings in camera negative. But, another advantage was being able derive the 2.35:1 aspect ratio while shooting with spherical lenses which avoided the distortion created by anamorphics during certain camera moves and extreme close-ups (such as those used by Sergio Leone). This film, together with Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) (also directed by Leone and shot by Tonino Delli Colli) are now considered masterpieces in the use of the Techniscope system.

    * Director Trademark: [Sergio Leone] Music is by Ennio Morricone.

    * Co-writer Bernardo Bertolucci says on the film's DVD that when he first suggested to director Sergio Leone that the film's central character be a woman, Leone was hesitant. Leone first budged on this subject by suggesting the introductory shot of Jill would be from below the train platform so the camera could see under Jill's dress and show she wasn't wearing any undergarments. Claudia Cardinale says she was never told this idea and says she probably wouldn't have agreed to be in the movie if it required this shot (suggesting that Leone, mercifully, gave up on the idea in the writing process).

    * Director Trademark: [Sergio Leone] [close-up] in most gun-fight scenes.

    * Leone originally intended to reunite the three stars of Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach) in cameo roles as the three gunmen waiting for Harmonica at the start of the film, but when Eastwood was unavailable the idea was scrapped.

    * The sheriff was originally to be portrayed by Robert Ryan.

    * For this film Claudia Cardinale and Paolo Stoppa take the longest buggy ride in movie history. It begins in Spain and goes through Monument Valley.

    * The Indian woman who flees from the train station in the opening sequence was actually played by an Hawaiian princess, Luukialuana (Luana) Kalaeloa (aka Luana Strode. She was the wife of actor Woody Strode.

    * The McBain house was built of solid logs that remained following production of the Orson Welles' movie Campanadas a medianoche (1965)

    * Harmonica's unfortunate brother is played by the production manager Claudio Mancini.

    * French actor Robert Hossein, who was a good friend of Leone's, was originally to play Morton, but due to scheduling he was unable to take the part, and Gabriele Ferzetti was cast instead.

    * John Landis was one of the stunt men on this film.

    * The first draft of the script was 436 pages long.

    * The credits, concluding with Director Sergio Leone, last over ten minutes into the start of the film.

    * Director Trademark: [Sergio Leone] [theme] Harmonica, Frank, and Cheyenne.

    * When Henry Fonda was trying to decide whether to be in this film, he asked his friend Eli Wallach, who had just made Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) with Sergio Leone, if he should take the part of Frank. Wallach said that he had to do it and told Fonda, "You will have the time of your life."

    * Henry Fonda prepared for his role as the villain "Frank" by arriving in Italy with a pair of brown colored contact lenses. When Sergio Leone saw them, he ordered them removed. Leone had planned an important close-up shot of Fonda and wanted those blue eyes.

    * Ennio Morricone composed the musical score to the original screenplay by Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. The plot was subsequently changed, and in many places, Leone directed the film to the existing musical score.

    * The original intent for the opening scene was to use music already composed by composer Ennio Morricone. However, the attempted blend didn't seem to fit well. The decision was made to drop Morricone's score from the opening train station sequence and record the ambient sounds relating to the scenes (including the squeaking windmill and individual footsteps) after Morricone experienced a musical performance created by using only the sounds of a metal ladder. This created an exaggerated version of what had come to be known as "spaghetti sound".

    * For the opening sequence where the three dusters waited for the train, filmmakers lightly coated the face of Jack Elam with jam and began filming close-ups while letting a fly out of a jar filled with flies, attempting to get Elam's reaction as one would light on his cheek.

    * Sergio Leone made hundreds of references to films that influenced him. Some were quite obvious (like three men waiting for the train as in High Noon (1952)) and some were very subtle (like the choice of Woody Strode's sawed-off Winchester rifle, similar to the weapon Steve McQueen carried in the TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958). McQueen referred to this unique weapon as a "Mare's Leg".

    * The final duel between Frank and Harmonica is shot almost exactly like the one in Robert Aldrich's The Last Sunset (1961) between Rock Hudson and Kirk Douglas, a film that Bernardo Bertolucci was a huge fan of.

    * Although Lionel Stander's establishment is located in Monument Valley, the interiors were actually shot at Cinecitta. Cheyenne's men enter with a cloud of red dust. The red dust was actually dust imported from the Monument Valley location.

    * This marked the first of the last three films to be fully directed by Sergio Leone. All three of his last films would be edited for U.S. distribution resulting in box office failure in the U.S. although the uncut international versions would be successful in other countries.

    * The character name of "Brett McBain" was derived from two famous U.S. mystery writers, Brett Halliday and Ed McBain (Evan Hunter).

    * Jason Robards showed up at the set completely drunk on the first day of filming, and Leone threatened to fire him if he ever did that again. Robards was generally well-behaved thereafter, though in June 1968, after receiving word of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Robards broke down and refused to perform until the day was over, and Leone decided to stop filming for the day.

    * Continuity: During The Man's flashback which explains how he came to possess the harmonica, the harmonica changes from undamaged to damaged and back.

    * Continuity: When "Harmonica" shoots Franks, Cheyenne cuts his right cheek just below his eye with a razor because he jumps to the sound of the gunfire. The next time we see his face, there is no cut or bleeding.

    * Continuity: The shadows change direction between cuts throughout the gunfight scene between Frank and Harmonica.

    * Factual errors: Spanish railways have a broader gauge (1,674 mm) than the American railways, which are mostly built in standard gauge (1,435 mm). In some scenes of the film it can be clearly seen, that the "Morton Railroad" has been erected in the broad Spanish gauge. Also, European locomotives are outside-frame designs, while US locomotives are generally inside-frame.

    * Continuity: In the opening scene, the black man is drinking water from his hat. Later, when the three shooters are standing across from Harmonica, his hat is covered with dust.

    * Anachronisms: While preparing for the wedding feast, Brett's daughter sings a few lines of "Danny Boy". The words to this song were written in 1910.

    * Continuity: During the duel between Frank and Harmonica, Cheyenne shaves his beard (mostly his sideburns); however, his large whiskers under his ears have grown back before he dies (ten minutes later).

    * Continuity: During Harmonica's confrontation with Frank towards the end of the movie, his hair appears to have grown significantly from earlier in the film. However, when he enters the house to talk to Jill, his hair is short again.

    * Revealing mistakes: When Cheyenne shoots the man who's guarding Harmonica through the train window, there is no blood on the chair the man was sitting in, despite the fact that he was shot at pointblank range.

    * Continuity: Claudia's baggage is picked up by two men as she gets off the train and is deposited in front of her/them as they are seated on the station bench. In the next scene, we see them picking up the baggage again from alongside the train.

    * Revealing mistakes: During Harmonica's flashback, you can see quite clearly two ropes around his brother. While one is on his neck, the other goes through his shirt.

    * Anachronisms: When Harmonica climbs down the ladder, only to meet Frank at the other end of a '45, we clearly see that the ladder is electro-welded to the wagon and the steps are also electro-welded to the legs of the ladder. A rather lousy welding job, by the way! The movie takes place around 1870. Electro-welding started during the '90s, but the method got practicable only in the 1920s - and began to be commonly used in the late 1930s when the great navies (except for the Royal Navy) started to use the method for their first-line ships. The great leap forward came during WW2, when Liberty ships and many other vessels was electro-welded.

    * Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Bronson tells Cheyenne during their first encounter, "In the dusters were three men. In the men were three bullets." However, Woody Strode was not wearing a duster when he and the others faced off against Bronson.

    Prvious discussion:-
    Once Upon A Time In The West

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 5 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Once Upon a Time in the West (Italian: C'era una volta il West)
    is a 1968 epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone.
    It stars Henry Fonda, cast against type, as the villain,
    Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader
    , and Jason Robards as a bandit.
    The screenplay was written by Sergio Donati and Leone, from a story by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and Leone. The widescreen cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli,
    and the acclaimed film score was by Ennio Morricone.

    After directing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone decided to retire from Westerns
    and desired to produce his film based on The Hoods, which eventually became
    Once Upon a Time in America.
    However, Leone accepted an offer from Paramount Pictures to provide access
    to Henry Fonda and to use a budget to produce another Western film.
    He recruited Bertolucci and Argento to devise the plot of the film in 1966,
    researching other Western films in the process.
    After Clint Eastwood turned down an offer to play the movie's protagonist,
    Bronson was offered the role.
    During production, Leone recruited Donati to rewrite the script due to concerns over time limitations.

    The original version by the director was 166 minutes (2 hours and 46 minutes)
    when it was first released on December 21, 1968.
    This was the version that was to be shown in European cinemas and was a box office success.
    For the US release on May 28, 1969, Once Upon a Time in the West was edited
    down to 145 minutes (2 hours and 25 minutes) by Paramount and was a financial flop.
    The film is considered by some to be the first installment in Leone's Once Upon a Time Trilogy, followed by Duck, You Sucker!, called Once Upon a Time... the Revolution in parts of Europe, and Once Upon a Time in America, though the films do not share any characters in common.

    The film is now generally acknowledged as a masterpiece
    and one of the greatest films ever made.
    In 2009, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
    by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”

    When this film was released, it was thought of as just the end
    of Sergios long line of spaghetti westerns!
    How wrong they were, it turned out to be a superb film.
    A real classic, that took everyone by suprise.
    Personally, I think it a great film. and the performances of
    Henry Fonda, and Charles Bronson were just genius.
    Henry Fonda, usually the nice guy, cast as the real bad villian,
    how could those blue eyes, suddenly look so mean?
    A great classic movie with once again,
    undeniably classic music.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • I never liked it either. As I said earlier in another thread, I was never a fan of any of the so-called spaghetti westerns, even those with Eastwood.

    De gustibus non est disputandum

  • Although I agree that this film was a bit long, it was well made. Henry Fonda played a great badman, and Charles Bronson did a great job also. I'll admit, I was taken aback when the bad man shot the little boy and the camara scanned up to reveal that it was Fonda.

    I liked the close-ups Leone did, especially in the gunfight between Fonda and Bronson.

    Great shot! Great use of close-ups.

    It took me a while to get use to spaghetti westerns, but I kind of took a liking to them in the last few years. If you havn't seen this film, give it a shot. You can get it for about $5.00 at Wall Mart.


    "I couldn't go to sleep at night if the director didn't call 'cut'. "

  • I'll disagree with most of the comments here. This was a great film! The opening with the assassins waiting for the train with no music but only the sounds of the surrounding area (certainly amplified to an extent) was well thought out. The scene where our heroine arrives at the town and the camera does an extensive pan from the front of the station to the roof and beyond to the bustling town itself took a lot of planning. And the casting of Henry Fonda as an out and out baddy was nothing less than genius. This was no throw-away production.
    BTW - the only way to watch this is in widescreen. So many scenes were composed with panorama in mind.
    Cheers - Jay:beer:

    Cheers - Jay:beer:
    "Not hardly!!!"

  • It had been a very long time since I last watched this film, but on this rainy afternoon it was on our tv, and I watched it with my parents while visiting them. I found it rather long but thought Fonda and mainly Bronson did a fantastic job. The music is brilliant and fits with the scenes very good.The use of the close-ups with the eyes was brilliant and makes me wonder what it would have been like to see on a big screen in the cinema. All that said...I cannot say it is one of my favourite films but did enjoy it though...

    My mother lost the plot of the film before it even started and my father was bored stiff...his words where...next time bring a good John Wayne to watch...

  • Mark, you and I sound like brother's sometimes!!! :ohmy:

    I too have grown to like the spaghetti western's and this one I found was long but had a epic feel to it. I really liked Bronson and Fonda as the rest of you did, but also enjoyed Jason Robards. In fact it's probably the only movie that I really liked Jason Robards in. I used to catch the spaghetti movie's on TV while growing up but never really understood them, but in the recent years I have purchased the collector's edition's that are on DVD and have really grown to like them. Do I think they are a great western? No. But they are not as bad as some that I have watched.

    And you are right Jay. If you have a large flat screen TV, the film is so much better to watch. Pan and scan is very hard to catch the whole mood and on screen action with.

    Life is hard, its even harder when your stupid!!
    -John Wayne

    Edited 2 times, last by SXViper ().

  • Hi Todd, not to be too far off topic but, if you like a good Jason Robards movie, watch him in Tora Tora Tora. In this movie, he plays US Army General Short.

    Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..

  • [extendedmedia]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/LIgNCD3nzOg&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/LIgNCD3nzOg&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/extendedmedia]

    [extendedmedia]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/rgXFA_yP3jw&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/rgXFA_yP3jw&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/extendedmedia]

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • [extendedmedia]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/K2t_UJdplg8&hl=it_IT&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/K2t_UJdplg8&hl=it_IT&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/extendedmedia]
    About the Harmonica's theme,I found an interview to Franco De Gemini.It's in Italian,so I put here a translation for you all.

    Franco De Gemini talks about of the idea's origin for the film Once Upon a Time in the West: Sergio Leone a day asked him if he had any ideas for a movie, and he replied that it would be nice to do a film having like protagonist the harmonica .
    So, De Gemini explains the significance of the variations of the harmonica's theme in the film.

    -The film begins with Bronson (Harmonica) and all those bandits which are waiting for killing him.At the train's departure, they see that he's on the other side of the tracks. So Bronson began to play his harmonica as if it were a threat.

    De Gemini says: "The three notes which Ennio Morricone gave me hadn't something inherent in the division, music, ecc. I must invent anything which every time I play the theme, it must to be different, though still using the same three notes. "

    -The scene in which Bronson (Harmonica) is in the Posada, with Claudia Cardinale and the bandit too, he played the harmonica in a different way, making fun of the bandit .
    De Gemini adds: "Bronson had to play the harmonica and I had given him one of mine. Anyway he didn't really play it.
    I showed him how to hold the harmonica in his hands, partly because there was a piston, something which wasn't in the harmonicas of the time (so this piston had to be concealed by his hands).
    They started the movie with my harmonica, but in a second moment, this was replaced by another harmonica (without piston). The public didn't notice this change. They made a hole in the harmonica and Bronson can took it to the neck. "

    -The final scene:
    The hanging of the Harmonica's brother.
    Harmonica remembers when Frank puts the harmonica in his mouth.
    De Gemini says: "If the kid can not move himself (his hands are tied) It is assumed that the harmonica has to be out of tune.
    So I had to invent a special harmonica ... in the middle of it I arranged a semitone with a tone, to make it out of tune.
    Many harp players asked me how I had to produce those two notes
    because one is blown and the other is aspired.So I made fun of them by saying that I shared my mouth in two parts, one for blowing and one to aspire to. "

    -Frank dies with the harmonica in his mouth.
    De Gemini said: "This was the hardest scene, around an hour to realize it, not because there were difficulties with harmonica, but because I had to play like i was dying. "
    Sergio Leone said: "Now I'll kill you to to play so perfectly for this scene "and I replied" If I am dead, who'll play it? "
    The notes were always the same, but it needs to be interpreted in a different way every time.


    Edited 3 times, last by °°Flaca°°: video ().


  • Once Upon A Time In The West

    Funny I too just watched this, while I found it highly enjoyable I wouldn't rate it as highly as the Eastwood-Leone movies but I thought Robards-Fonda-Bronson was a fine combination, was particularly impressed by Robards as he's not a guy iv'e seen much or heard much of. I watched the near three hour version and my only criticism was that it could have been cut a little, it dragged a bit in the middle and after the part where they commandeered the train the order of the scenes didn't make much sense and left me a bit lost.