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C’era una volta il West (1968)

C’era una volta il West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West


Genre: Western/Action


Starring: Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson


English: Once Upon a Time in the West. Sergio Leone has given us some of the best western movies ever like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More and many more. In this western movie, a man by the name of Brett McCain has brought a piece of land called Sweetwater near the town of Flagstone. The towns people think he is stupid to have brought that land which is miles away in the middle of nowhere. McCain knew that a rail road line would soon pass through this land and it would have to stop at Sweetwater since the locomotives need water and the only source in the area is where his land is located on. His land price would greatly appreciate once the rail road line comes in, making him rich. Frank (Fonda), is a hired gun employed by a railroad tycoon to threaten McCain to sell the land for cheap but Frank kills him and his three children instead. Frank makes the murder look like it was carried out by his rival Cheyenne (Robards) and frames him for it. Jill (Cardinale) is a former prostitute who comes to Sweetwater and claims to be Bill’s wife and hence making her the owner of the new land. Another mysterious gunslinger, affectionately called Harmonica (Bronson), because he keeps playing the harmonica, is looking for Frank to settle an unknown score with him. Harmonica and Cheyenne come together to protect Jill from Frank and get their revenge. If you have seen any of Sergio Leone’s previous movies, you would instantly recognise the style and manner of his films. There is no room for doubt that this movie has come from his stables. The movie even tries to replicate the distinct background score seen previously in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with a slight modification but does not seem to click. Clint Eastwood was the first option given for the role of Harmonica but the actor turned the role down. Although Charles Bronson does a good job, he somehow fails to live up to the charm, mystery and rugged approach that Eastwood had and somehow seems to pull the entire movie down with him. Henry Fonda does a negative role for the first time in his career and manages to nicely shed the urban, good boy image to look like a scheming, rotten cowboy. No doubt, this is one of the classic western movies to watch but it probably could have been better with a different casting.


Thumbs up: Cult, cold, classic western

Thumbs down: Charles Bronson somehow fails to live up to expectation


Rating: 7.8/10

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