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Purchase Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Movie Online and Download - Sergio Leone 🎥
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Sergio Leone
Henry Fonda as Frank
Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain
Jason Robards as Cheyenne
Charles Bronson as Harmonica
Gabriele Ferzetti as Morton (railroad baron)
Woody Strode as Stony - Member of Frank's Gang
Jack Elam as Snaky - Member of Frank's Gang
Keenan Wynn as Sheriff (auctioneer)
Frank Wolff as Brett McBain
Storyline: 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 whom? 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, a man already on a quest to get even.
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"I have a feelin' when he stops whittlin', somethin's gonna happen."
When composer Ennio Morricone first got the script for "Once Upon A Time In The West", he was so impressed with the story that he began writing the music for it immediately. The entire movie was scored before even a single frame was shot, and Sergio Leone liked it so much that he had portions played for the actors while rehearsing to get them to 'flow' with the music. One could go so far as to say that a good part of the picture was filmed to the score!

It took me a long time to get around to this film, but it was certainly worth the wait. Any movie that opens with Jack Elam and Woody Strode has got to get your attention, but when their characters didn't survive the opening sequence, I knew this was going to be something special. Actually, having seen Elam in countless movies and TV Western episodes, I can safely say that this is the best performance I've ever seen him in. His sparring with the fly to the omnipresent creak of the windmill was an inspired piece of work, and if you didn't know anything about the story going in, you would think that these players would have a major role in the story to come. And then Bronson appears!

And then Henry Fonda appears. Curiously, his character's name was Frank. It didn't take until the end of the movie to make the connection to Frank James, brother of outlaw Jesse, and the character Fonda portrayed in two much earlier movies - 1939's "Jesse James", and the sequel, 1940's "The Return of Frank James". It made me wonder if Sergio Leone's original script named the character Frank, or if it was a result of getting Fonda for the part. It's no secret that Leone had been after Fonda to appear in one of his Westerns for a few years, with Fonda declining because every script he ever read was in Leone's fractured English. Fonda eventually relied on friend Eli Wallach's (Tuco/The Ugly in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) advice, who said he would have the time of his life.

More than most, this is a Western that in turn, defines and is defined by the music. Even Bronson's character is called Harmonica, and his tunes are played to haunting effect. They mask a much deadlier nature to the quiet stranger - "He not only plays, he can shoot too".

It took me a bit into the story to figure out it was Jason Robards under the beard of Cheyenne. I think it was interesting the way his character was written, leaving it ambiguous whether he was a lawman or an outlaw. The bigger surprise though had to do with a female character in the lead role, capably performed by Claudia Cardinale. She manages to arc through a wide range of characterizations throughout the story as situations call for, holding her own well against each of the male principals.

This is certainly a film I'll have to watch a few more times for some of the points noted above. In particular, the single scene I could watch over and over, one that is inextricably linked with it's musical score, is Fonda's death scene set to the strain of Morricone's dying harmonica. Not only creative, but as effective as any finale in a Western I can think of.

As a final thought, I was considering how Sergio Leone could have used the title "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" for this movie if it hadn't already been taken by another one of his legendary classics. But then again, Robards wasn't that ugly.
**** out of ****
Sergio Leone set out to create the ultimate western here, and succeeded. Combining pieces from all of the great westerns that preceded it, he made a one of a kind film. Showing the natural progression from his first three westerns to here, he more or less takes a lot of the same themes and ideas from those and pulled them together. More epic and operatic than `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,' and without the lightheartedness that gave that film it's undeniable uniqueness. Instead, Leone focuses more on the dark side of the west, and the dark side of human nature as well. The four main players, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Claudia Cardinale, all give the performances of the lifetime. From a filmmaking standpoint, few movies have ever been so perfect – the combination of gorgeous cinematography, incredible music, and the sheer style are second to none. A true masterpiece.
A Landmark Spaghetti Western
Once Upon a Time in the West is an Italian epic spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone for Paramount Pictures. It stars Henry Fonda cast against type as the villain, Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Jason Robards as a bandit, and Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader with a past as a prostitute. The screenplay was written by Leone and Sergio Donati, from a story devised by Leone, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento. The widescreen cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli, and Ennio Morricone provided the film score.

In this epic Western, shot partly in Monument Valley, a revenge story becomes an epic contemplation of the Western past. To get his hands on prime railroad land in Sweetwater, crippled railroad baron Morton hires killers, led by blue-eyed sadist Frank, who wipe out property owner Brett McBain and his family. McBain's newly arrived bride, Jill, however, inherits it instead. Both outlaw Cheyenne and lethally mysterious Harmonica take it upon themselves to look after Jill and thwart Frank's plans to seize her land. As alliances and betrayals mutate, it soon becomes clear that Harmonica wants to get Frank for another reason -- it has "something to do with death."

As in his "Dollars" trilogy, Leone transforms the standard Western plot through the visual impact of widescreen landscapes and the figures therein. At its full length, Once Upon a Time in the West is Leone's operatic masterwork, worthy of its legend-making title.If only the first 10 minutes of this movie still existed, this most hyperbolic of oat operas would still be acknowledged as one of the genre's greatest exhumations.Overall,it is a a landmark Leone spaghetti western masterpiece featuring a classic Morricone score.
No western has ever come close to this one....and no western ever will.
I can't quite find the words to even come close to describing the pure brilliance of this movie. When this movie was made, the western genre was dominated by the big hollywood studios. The western was taken by these studios and transformed into an opportunity to portray classic superheroes like John Wayne and Burt Lancaster in their fight against all sorts of smalltime crooks and outlaws in smalltime stories and smalltime towns. It was a genuine effort to portray 'Americanism', the American Way, along with a romanticised view of the west as 'Frontier country' where good always triumphed over bad and where the life was hard but honest. It was the American Way.

And then came this film. The title, 'Once Upon A Time In The West' must have seemed to mean nothing more than 'just another western' to the unexpecting viewers at the time. Oh boy were they wrong. With this movie, Sergio Leone singlehandedly redefined the western genre and no American western would ever match the brilliant spirit in which it was made. While the story is basically the same as in any other western, it is the WAY in which it is presented that so clearly distances this western from others. Whereas other westerns are simply stories that are designed to entertain, this movie is an emotional masterpiece that will move your heart. Sergio Leone takes the ordinary western and replaces words with looks, and conversations with feelings and emotions. With his brutal but honest portrayal of the sheer hardness of life and death in those times he thoroughly destroys the old romantic idea of the west as a 'generally-hunky-dory-kind-of-scene with the occasional bad guy and indian' and replaces it with an eerie, dark, hot and dry place where life is cheap and only the strongest will survive.

I cannot adequately convey in words the way in which Sergio Leone deepens and defines the characters by pure means of visual persuasion. It starts with the three gunman in the beginning of the movie, waiting for some reason at a train station for someone or something that obviously is going to be on the next train. No explanation, no conversation; not a word is said. Even the stationmaster is ushered into captivity without a single audible threat. Then comes the waiting... Any other director would have skipped directly to the moment of arrival, but Sergio Leone takes minutes of boredom and translates it into a visual feast, deepening the characters that are portrayed and making them more human, more real to the viewer, while at the same time encompassing us with a deep dark sense of foreboding. This way in which the story is not just augmented but in times completely replaced by the sheer visual drama, is perfected by the absolute fantastic music, directed by Ennio Morricone. Who needs words and explanations when the combined forces of cinematic mastery and heart-tearing music are not just able to carry the story, but pick it up and push it up to such heights of excellence that it has no equal in it's genre?

Another great feat that adds to the power of this movie is the minimalistic way of portrayal of the characters as real, emotional people. Not a single word is said that isn't required for the understanding of the story, yet the characters feel more true than those in movies where whole conversations are added merely to explain their motives. Instead of words, the camera focuses on the characters...so that you can simply read the emotion off their faces. Often no explanation is given other than than a mere facial expression. No superheroes or supercriminals, just real, desire-laden, traumatised, obsessed people that act upon motives inherently understood by the viewer.

All in all this is without a single doubt in my mind the greatest western of all times, and even though Sergio Leone has made many more mindblowing, heart-shattering westerns like this one, like 'A Fistful of Dynamite', 'The Good The Bad and The Ugly', and 'For a Few Dollars More', none could equal 'Once Upon A Time In The West' in sheer magnitude of perfection. Western has never been the same since....

I only wish I'd have been there in 1969 when the movie was new and see it, for the first time with fresh innocent eyes and an unexpecting mind..just like 2001: A Space Odyssey (also of 1969, a year of legends).

A tip for those who have never seen this movie: Bribe, beg, borrow, or steal yourself into possession of a Videobeam and Hifi-audio equipment if you can't find a cinema that is showing this movie. Turn the audio up WAY HIGH (never mind the neighbors) and prepare never to be the same again.........

I (obviously) gave this movie a 10 because no matter how hard I try I can't find anything less than perfect about it.
Excellent - I agree it is the best western, and...
The music and scenery are fantastic. Unlike the many westerns with good actors and actresses, the authenticity always left something to be desired. Indians depicted as "all" savages, and more nonsense.

This movie weaves a very believable story, and all the characters are awesome.

If you watch Andre Rieu concerts on public broadcast or see one of his concerts in person, he frequently does the main theme music.

Henry Fonda, Robards, Cardinale, Bronson - all look and act the part. Every scene hits home with a much different message than most of the westerns up to this point in time.

Of course, then you also wish that all women had the courage and beauty of Ms. Cardinale as displayed in this movie.
The entire history of the Western - in two-and-a-half hours.
I'm sure this has been said before, perhaps I even read it somewhere or listened to it - but it's worth repeating. This film is not "a' Western - it is all Westerns.

Almost at the same time this was released, Peckinpah released the Wild Bunch. That film took a whole host of Cowboy movie conventions and turned them inside out, first by its infamous portrayal of violence, but more importantly by treating the "bad-guys" with respect while presenting all the supposed "good-guys" as cruds - with the exception of the Mexican revolutionaries; but then, even this was a violation of an unacknowledged convention - ever since the murder of Villa by the American Army, Hollywood has covered over that criminal trespass by portraying Mexican rebels as little better than bandits - which of course was Washington's official line on the Villa case.

At any rate, the point is that Peckinpah's film blew traditional cowboy clichés right out of Hollywood. It hasn't been really possible to make a traditional Western since then.

So it's dam' fortunate for all of us that Leone made OUATITW when he did, because one of the goals he appears to have set for himself is to use practically every Cowboy movie he could remember without actually slipping into overt cliché. And, quite amazingly, he pulls it off.

The chief means of accomplishing this, as a number of reviewers have noted, is structuring the film as an Italian opera, using the character's actions and responses (both physical and verbal) to take the place of opera's lyrics, performed before the magnificent music by Ennio Morricone, enhanced by editing that's so smooth, it's often not noticeable. For instance, on repeated viewings it becomes clear that certain scenes - the massacre of the family, the final shoot-out - which are so tense on first viewing that they seem to go on forever, actually happen rather quickly; other scenes that at first seem to snip along - such as the scene when Cheyanne and Harmonica first meet - are actually fairly leisurely paced.

The ability to manipulate his audience's sense of time is one of Leone's greatest talents. In all four of his major Westerns - this film and the Eastwood films - the final shoot-out (always staged as a set-piece) seems to bring time to a halt; when the smoke clears, we're left wondering what day of the week it is, because even if we have a watch,we don't trust it any more, since it is clearly not in synch with the film. Leone accomplishes this with an editing approach that is musically timed (quite literally, he is editing it to Morricone's score), utilizing long shots as melodic riffs and extreme close-ups for heavy beats.

OUATITW is actually the first movie Leone made where he is fully aware of this. Thus he is taking real risks in his choices of which Western conventions to highlight, and which to let drift into the background. Just as example: All three of the Eastwood films have a horse-chase sequence. There is none in OUATITW. Leone wants the horse to begin drifting into the backdrop of history - this is a film about the coming of the 'iron horse' - the railroad. The second to last image of the film is a man riding off on horseback; the final image is the train facing us as the laborers lay down track leading it directly towards us, as the music we know to be the woman's theme swells, reminding us that she is there with the laborers, and that somehow, while the old West (the West on horseback) has breathed its last, the new West, still a land of promise and new beginnings, remains.

A magnificent farewell to an era - not just an era of American history, but an era in film history as well.
Like looking into another world
Once upon a time there was a European who perfected the typical and old American western genre. It was the Italian Sergio Leone who succeeded to reach this seemingly impossible perfectionism. With Once Upon a Time in the West he brought both his own career and the complete genre to the highest level. Of course that's just my opinion and there are a lot of people who would disagree with that statement, but for me this extraordinarily great movie seems currently unbeatable. Now, the last 45 years much has been said and written about this movie, but that doesn't prevent me to add my humble opinion to the increasing number of shared opinions about it. The fact that I truly love this movie was just something I didn't want to stay unmentioned.

Yesterday, one of the songs of Ennio Morricone's wonderful soundtrack got stuck in my head. The characteristic sound of Cheyenne had kept me busy the whole day and because it had already been a year since I saw the movie for the last time I decided to see it once again.

Almost every time there's been talked about this movie in the past there's been talked about the distinctive, sluggish, but powerful beginning. We're lucky that the three men were not half an hour early for the train, because it shouldn't have last much longer before boredom would've struck. However, right now, with only ten minutes to wait before the train comes in, the beginning is brilliant. You then approximately know what's about to come 'cause in the rest of the movie Leone also takes ample time to show what he wants to show and with the pace in which the movie continues there isn't much important you can be missing.

Every character which can be found in the movie is a unique and original one, without any form of overacting or a highly overdone presence of one of them. Whether it's about the remarkable Harmonica, which attracts the most attention with the striking tune he plays, or about Cheyenne, which can be recognized by his own theme as well, all of them ensure that it's enjoyable from the beginning till the end because of their abstruse, unknown history. Furthermore, Leone succeeds to let his characters behave very human, just like he did in his previous movies. They all have both their good and their bad sides and none of those sides is hidden, let alone that one of the characters is idealized.

Yet the movie feels a little unrealistic in the sense that it seems to take place in a different universe. Especially the slowness in which everything happens makes you feel like you're looking into another world. In particular, the time that is taken to say something feels unreal, while on the other hand it gives a magical feeling as well. It's Ennio Morricone who perfects the ensuing mysterious atmosphere.

But a movie would be nothing without actors. Actors which are all delivering a great performance in this movie. Jason Robards perhaps got the best role. He seems to be made for the role of Cheyenne and it's wonderful to see how he slowly changes during the movie. I think Charles Bronson plays the best role in his career and just like Henry Fonda he's acting great in the interesting, mysterious conflict in which they're involved. In my view, Claudia Cardinale can do no wrong and she therefore brings along the necessary femininity in a perfect way. Finally, Jack Elam, Woody Strode and Gabriele Ferzetti deserve a special mention which they owe to their great performances, although not all of their roles had very much influence on the movie's story.

After the very good beginning and the great continuation the ending is at least as admirable as the foregoing. A shootout wasn't a big innovation and there already was a foretaste of the use of flashbacks in Leone's earlier For a Few Dollars More, but the way he combines these two elements and the quality of the combination makes sure that the end is more brilliant than that of the average movie. After the first few blurry, mysterious flashbacks the flashback at the end ensures clarification. Then everything falls into place and some of the characters seem to face a happy life ever after.
One for all time !!!
I thought I knew westerns, I'd seen John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Glen Ford, Audie Murphy, Richard Widmark, Alan Ladd, all of them save the day many times. I was wrong, I was 14 yrs old when I went to the local movie house to see this movie in 1969. My grandmother took me, she had always been a huge fan of Henry Fonda's, and even though she didn't care for western's, she dragged me to this one. I'll never forget how engrossed I was from beginning to end. And this one movie was the basis for all my future wish's to have been born a cowboy. Everything about this movie impressed me one way or the other.

Simply put, this movie is the most visually stimulating and engrossing movie I have ever watched.

I have seen plenty of great movies in my in my fifty years of life, but this one, is in my opinion more than a movie, it's a piece of history unfolding in front of your eyes with no censorship or BS added for flavor. True, the movie has been chopped up some for TV and other forms of presentation, but when I was in that theater in 1969, the movie was, to use a semi modern term "AWESOME".

No one, not even if you dislike westerns, should pass on this one.
A beautiful western
Once Upon A Time In The West is no ordinary western. Despite the non-descriptive title, this is a film that redefined the genre. With his dollars trilogy, director Sergio Leone proved that he was the master of the spaghetti western; with Once Upon A Time… he transferred the conventions of that genre – the operatic sense of drama, the nihilism, extreme close-ups, epic widescreen photography, Ennio Morricone music and moral ambiguity – into Monument Valley, the setting of the traditional American western. The result is pretty unforgettable. Leone tells a simple story via images. Looks, as opposed to dialogue, are used to convey meaning wherever possible. When characters do speak, their lines are significant. Every bit of dialogue is considered, no one talks unnecessarily. This combined with the phenomenal cinematography and unforgettable music results in a sort of operatic minimalism. The western has never been depicted so artistically.

There is a real feeling of time and space. The opening credit sequence where the three gunmen wait at the train station typifies this. Instead of launching straight into the initial confrontation, Leone waits. Insignificant details become epic. The fly and the dripping water for instance, are given real significance, and are integral to the pace of the scene. Nothing of narrative significance happens, not a word is said but the pacing and magnification of the smallest details add human depth to what would otherwise be cardboard characters.

There are four stand-out performances from Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards. Bronson plays Harmonica the mysterious stranger, Fonda brilliantly cast against type is the cold-eyed killer, Cardinale is the stunningly beautiful woman in the centre of the narrative and Robards is the grizzled outlaw. Together, they are terrific. And Leone moves them around the widescreen frame quite beautifully. Morricone's score once again is quite outstanding. The haunting harmonica theme is a particular standout; only Morricone could make a harmonica sound so sweeping, evocative and mystical.

Once Upon A Time In The West is truly epic film-making of the very best kind. It's a western of intense emotions and brilliant acting; of peerless photography and ground-breaking music. It illustrates perfectly how to use cinematic space and how to pace events within it. It refashioned the western and brought the highest cinematic artistry to Monument Valley. It goes without saying that it is a masterpiece.
lumbering and interminable
I recently purchased a double DVD package of "Once Upon a Time in the West" and re-watched this film after having revisited the "Dollars" trilogy...and what a comedown. First the positives: a lovely score from Ennio Morricone (especially the "Jill"/Claudia Cardinale theme), gorgeous photography, sets, locations, lighting, and some decent (but not terribly great) acting - Gabriele Ferzetti probably comes off best in his role. You know you're in trouble when the very last bit in the documentary extras is a quotation of Sergio Leone worriedly admitting to co-scripter Bernardo Bertolucci that he had set the pace far too slow when filming the opening sequences, and that the ensuing film would probably be five hours long as a result. It was almost three, and it barely moves along at all. The plot is paper thin and could have easily been filmed in 90 minutes. Perhaps then the much-needed forward momentum and suspense would be in place. As it is, the film has far too protracted silences which do not advance it at all.

Henry Fonda's villain Frank is rather drab and one dimensional, especially in comparison to Gian Maria Volonté's romanticized villains Ramon and Indio in the first two "Dollars" films. Fonda is also not even remotely formidable as a physical opponent for Charles Bronson. I'm not certain why Jason Robards' Cheyenne character is even in the film---perhaps as comic relief, but he does not ever really seem to belong in the Old West, despite his grizzled appearance. He and Bronson have none of the chemistry and camaraderie that Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef had in "For a Few Dollars More." Claudia Cardinale is beautiful and beautifully photographed, but even her character is rather one dimensional.

Back to the music: for this film Ennio Morricone recorded the score in advance (unlike the "Dollars" films), and some of the soaring themes arrive early in the film and are far too stridently emotional for characters and situations which have not yet won the viewers' hearts. He should have subdued some of his orchestration of the same themes earlier in the film, then revisited them in full intensity after some of the drama had likewise escalated. As such it is a bad marriage of sound and celluloid at the outset.

In the end it is director Sergio Leone's fault for not shooting this film so that the story would unfold at a much faster pace. It seems he didn't learn his lesson, though, as his next film "A Fistful of Dynamite" (1972) suffered from the very same problems. I donated the "West" DVD set to my local library just before writing this review; perhaps someone else will enjoy it.
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