Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movie of the Week – Once Upon a Time in the West

This week’s movie: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

Frank, a ruthless assassin working for the railroad, murders Jill McBain’s husband and family with the ambition of taking her land and selling it for a fortune to the railroad. He wants Jill for himself. However, a stranger with a harmonica and Cheyenne, a notorious desperado, make an unlikely team hired by Jill to try and kill Frank.

The film is written and directed by Sergio Leone – the master of the spaghetti western. Leone made his reputation with the brilliant The Man with No Name Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). However, Once Upon a Time in the West is probably his greatest achievement (his gangster film Once Upon a Time in America is great too). Leone worked with frequent collaborators composer Ennio Morricone (whose score is absolutely phenomenal and iconic), cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, and art director Carlo Simi.

Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson star in the film, while Gabriele Ferzetti, Woody Strode, and Jack Elam feature in support.

In terms of westerns, there may not be a better film than Once Upon a Time in the West. For me, the genre’s best include this film as well as things like: The Big Country, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, A Fistful of Dollars, Unforgiven, Open Range (a personal favorite that is often overlooked), Deadwood, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and True Grit. The score alone makes this a worthwhile endeavor – or maybe its place among the 100 Best Films of the 20th Century (number 24 on IMDb’s Top 250) – but really, it is a must-see for fans of westerns.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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