Write descriptive essay about Once Upon a Time in the West movie 1968, write an essay of at least 500 words on Once Upon a Time in the West, 5 paragraph essay on Once Upon a Time in the West, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
Once Upon a Time in the West
Year:
1968
Country:
USA, Italy, Spain
Genre:
Western
IMDB rating:
8.6
Director:
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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Reviews
SERGIO LEONE DOES ORSON WELLES (BY WAY OF David LEAN)
Is ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST a stunningly beautiful western saga or overblown, pretentious horse opera? Take your pick; you'd be right either way. What else but self-indulgent can you call an opening scene which runs ELEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES and ends with its principal players dead? John Ford could made a 90 minute movie from this thin script. Howard Hawks might have added a few action flourishes and come in at 105. Instead, Leone has given you ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE minutes, several scenes which run in excess of five minutes and what has to be most beautifully photographed western in motion picture history. Leone milks every ounce of drama from the meager story of the coming of the railroad to the future town of Sweetwater and its effects on the principal players.

Leone matches his cinematic skill with his ingenious casting. Henry Fonda has never been better than as the 'evil as a snake' Frank. As Jill, the movie's central character, Claudia Cardinale uses her expressive face to provide the perfect landscape for Leone's frequent close-ups. Jason Robards, Jr. is surprisingly perfect as the 'Bogart-tough-but-lovable' Cheyenne. Gabriele Ferzetti provides the slick, oily but decadent railroad baron just the right touches of class, crass and ruthlessness. At first, Charles Bronson, as 'Harmonica,' seems the only casting misstep. As Fonda's chief adversary, Bronson never seems up to the task, artistically or otherwise. However, upon reflection, this unequal match now seems to be deliberate on Leone's part, to generate the necessary suspense to keep audience attention to the very end of this overlong masterpiece. Not enough can be said to praise Ennio Morricone's evocative, operatic score, or the other technical credits. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is not simply a triumph of style over substance. In the end style has BECOME substance, etching the characters permanently into our memory. While lacking their dramatic depth, Leone brought to the cinema the same kind of visual splendor as Orson Welles and David Lean.

I give ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST a '10'.
2004-07-12
The woman, the good, the nearly good and the bad.
One of the first scenes of this film is Jack Elam playing with a fly running on his face.After a while he manages to put the fly inside the barrel of his gun, which he is closing with his finger. There are two long scenes when Jason Robards comes in, looks at Claudia Cardinale and after a while asks for a coffee. The first time she does not know how to do it, the second time she learned. These scenes seem to last ages. The showdown between Fonda and Bronson takes about 15 minutes. Once you accept this slow rhythm you are in for quite a good western. Leone pays homage to High Noon, Shane, Pursued, The Searchers, and specially to John Ford by showing Monument Valley. Here he goes for the super production epic style, many scenes made me think of Gone With The Wind, Lawrence of Arabia etc... I do not think of this film as his masterpiece, I would leave that for The Good The Bad and The Ugly, because to like OUTITW you have to acquire the taste which is not what happens with TGTBTU. Comparing the characters of the two films Charles Bronson would be the good, Henry Fonda the very bad (next to him Lee Van Cleef is an angel) and Jason Robards a bandit that is almost a good guy. Claudia Cardinale is the main character. Try to see it in DVD with progressive scan.
2005-11-30
Disappointing
This film was beautifully filmed with impressive scenery and well-designed sets against a beautiful musical score. The story line is pretty standard, but okay. Water rights, railroad coming in, new town, etc. However this film can't quite decide whether it wants to be a horse opera or a soap opera. At over three hours it's something like watching a full season of Days of our Lives meets The Young and the Restless in the Old West. A good half of that three plus hours is spent on close ups of the different characters staring at each other, or into mirrors, or just staring with gritty expressions on their weathered faces.

Henry Fonda gets to show us how bad a bad guy he can be, but that's just not the Henry Fonda we knew and loved and it didn't really work for me. But he was really bad. I'll give him that. Overall I found this film very tedious and I had to watch it in short increments or I'd never have got through it at all.
2014-04-26
Take a good look at the long shots!!
This great movie is sometimes called slow. In my opinion it can not be long enough. Not all movies should be over in 90 minutes, while others are already boring from the first minute. It is clear that this movie is of the first category. Sergio Leone really took time for beautiful shots. Watch the scene in which Claudia Cardinale gets out of the train carefully. The shot starts when she gets out, and continues when she walks over the platform, through the railway station building, and out of it on the other side. All in one shot!!! The MTV-ation of the cinema is not always a good thing. It sometimes makes it more exciting, but the truly long, good shots should never be forgotten. Of course the long shots of Sergio Leone are backed up by the stunning music of the great composer Ennio Moricone. I know of no better director/composer duo.
2003-07-11
The Best Western ever made??? Not quite, but still is AMAZING!
After the great success of the masterpiece "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" which perfectly finished the "Dollars" trilogy. Sergio Leone get bored with nothing to do, and decided to start another trilogy, the "America" trilogy with "Once upon a time in the West". That today is considered the best Western ever made in the history of cinema.

"Once upon a time in the West" begins when the farmer Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his sons are murdered in cold blood by the hands of the ruthless bounty-killer Frank (Henry Fonda) who puts the blame on the criminal Cheyenne (Jason Robards). Frank was hired by the legged-rail baron Morton (Gabrielle Ferzetti) to just scare away McBain and his family of their land, because she would be much valued with the advancement of the railroad. But on the same day Jill (Claudia Cardinale) arrives in town, coming from New Orleans, and when she finds out of the crime she reveals that she married Brett McBain weeks before in New Orleans and therefore the land still had a owner. On the same day, Jill meets a mysterious man who is known for Harmonica (Charles Bronson) because he always carries with himself a harmonica, and offers itself as a protector of Jill. And when the criminal Cheyenne knows that he is being unfairly prosecuted, he decides to join forces with Harmonica to help Jill keep the lands of her deceased husband. But a web of mystery and deceit circulates between the contradictory relationship of the characters.

When the film premiered at the time it was poorly received by critics and was a box office failure, only today that the critics and the public praised the film as not only the best Sergio Leone's movie, but also the best Western ever made. Well, not quite (in my opinion), but I understand why people praise him as such. The main complain of the critics to the film at the time, it was that the film was extreme slow. But this slowness is caused by some reasons.

The first one is that the film was completely different from all the Western films ever made, even from the "Dollars" trilogy because Leone gives the film a dramatic tone. What Leone tries to show in the story is the end of the Old West, the title shows that perfectly. The original translation from Italian to English was "Once upon a time THE West", that is, the end of the Old West. And that originally came in the time of the advance of the railways, and the grand corruption and death that she brought to the population. Leone shows that giving the film an excellent script (written by him and Sergio Donati), which gives the film a superb narrative with beautiful dialogs between the characters, but like any Leone's film, it never loses his great sense of humor.

The other reason is, as always. the magnificent direction of Leone, which once again shows advanced for its time. With its perfect close-ups on characters and enormous scenarios, making everything beautiful and epic. But there it comes the problem that prevents the film to even beat "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Leone was known for his quiet moments brilliantly filmed, and "Once upon a time" is full of them (but maybe too much). Without considering the first 10 minutes of the film (which is brilliant, putting us in the heat of the scene), but others seem to boring taking the power of narrative and our investment on them.

Another problem with the film is the relevance of the characters. Not that they are not superb and memorable (which they are): Jill is nothing more nor less than the representation of the women in the world of men in the Old West and its extreme strength and intelligence, along with an excellent performance from Cardinale; Cheyenne can be compared with Tuco from "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly", both characters are cruel bandits, but in several times they are shown to be simple human beings with their problems and their kind and innocent side; Frank is another cruel-badass villain that Leone built in his films, Frank is a bounty-killer who in previous films its showed that they are honored to their "job", do whoever they were told and paid for and nothing more. But Frank in the film betrays its own principles, and gets into the corrupt world of the railways; Harmonica is almost the same character that Clint Eastwood was in previous Leone films. Mysterious, don't talk much, and never shows his true motives (only at the most epic and badass moment of the film). All characters are fantastic, but thanks to the silent moments of Leone, their relevance and relationship fails in several moments in the history.

I don't agree that this is the best Western film ever made, but I understand why people consider it so. From a fabulous story that shows excellently the end of the era of legends with a flawless script, magnificent direction and unforgettable characters. All this makes "Once upon a time" not only one of the best Western films ever made, but a beautiful masterpiece of cinema and the beginning of another amazing trilogy!

10/10
2013-10-23
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.
2013-10-28
"Something To Do With Death"
Sergio goes Hollywood for this big-name, big-budget Spaghetti Western. Fonda, Bronson, Robards and Cardinale queue up and take Leone's choreographic direction in an epic tale of blood and revenge.

Frank is a bad guy who has killed a lot of people. He now works for a railroad entrepreneur whose ruthless sterile tracks are spreading ever westward. The time has come for the real Americans to confront both the railroad and Frank.

Leone sat down with film intellectuals Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento and watched dozens of Hollywood westerns. From this saturation-viewing emerged a 300-page treatment which was eventually distilled into the script, penned by Leone and Sergio Donati. There are conscious echoes of "Shane" and "High Noon" in the meticulously-plotted screenplay. Ennio Morricone apparently sat in on the planning stage and had composed the score in toto before shooting began, the reverese of the usual process of fitting music to existing footage. The result is a tight matching of soundtrack and visuals. Robards, Bronson and Cardinale each have musical 'signatures' which play whenever their characters are onscreen. Bronson's is an eerily-wailing harmonica, Robards has the plonking banjo and Cardinale the lush strings. So intricately was everything structured that the themes were available to be played on set, so that the actors could co-ordinate every nuance of gesture to fit with the score.

The film is a grandiose lament to the death of the Wild West. Decay is everywhere to be seen. Streets, bars, buildings and people all have a beat-up, grungy look. When Cheyenne (Robards) pauses beside a rough-hewn wooden post, there is little difference in texture between his face and the post. Morton the cripple is killing the romantic West of open spaces with his "snail trail" of railroad tracks, leaving the fine adventurous men (Cheyenne and Harmonica) nowhere to go.

There can be few opening scenes with the visual and aural brilliance of this one. Three bad guys stake out Flagstone's railroad depot in a High Noon pastiche. Jack Elam (who was actually in "High Noon") leads the villains. The only spoken words throughout this long (but totally gripping) scene are uttered by the old station clerk. Haunting rhythms raise the tension to an unbearable pitch ... the squeaking windmill, the chattering tickertape, the creaking bench. This wonderful crescendo climaxes with the appearance of Bronson, a sequence as stylised and choreographed as a Shinto ceremony, all the more effective for the absence of spontaneity.

Equal to and counterbalancing this scene is the very next one, the introduction of Frank. This time it is "Shane" that gets the treatment as the McBain boy spots five men in yellow duster topcoats. A growing sense of unease on the McBain homestead is beautifully conveyed (was the stopping of a cicada chirp ever so effective?) A cinematic multiple orgasm ensues, with the musical theme crashing in as the boy sees the devastation, and the camera swoops round to reveal the baddie to be none other than Henry Fonda as Morricone's trademark solitary tubular bell peals out.

Cheyenne's entrance is also a piece of impressive cinema. Inside Lionel Stander's strange labyrinthine tavern, quite unlike any saloon ever filmed before, the violence which hovers around Cheyenne like a dustcloud is heard but not seen, preparing us for his appearance in person. The sliding of the lamp towards Bronson works brilliantly, the film's two good men sharing the light of humour, the symbolic forging of a meaningful friendship.

By a slow accretion, the plot reveals itself. The leviathan of the railroad must be stopped, and there must be a reckoning with Frank. Gradually the fates of the main characters converge, and swim into sharp focus for the shoot-out.

It is not the story, excellent though that is, which lingers in the memory, but rather a hundred individual flashes of brilliance: Claudia Cardinale (are those eyes for real?) filmed on the bed, viewed vertically downward, through a lace canopy: Cheyenne's surprise method of concealing himself on the train: Morton ("when you're not on that train, you're like a turtle out of its shell") imprisoned by the armature that helps him walk: the 'heartbeat' of the train's engine during the cardgame: the tension of the ambush preparations against Frank: the eruption of guitar music as Bronson enters the frame: Bronson's stillness and self-possession, the emblem of his righteousness: Fonda's eyes flickering rapidly in his motionless head, denoting the waning of his self-confidence: the amazing super-close-ups of Bronson: and the weird brick arch, the only man-made intrusion into the entire terrain, and the focus of human depravity.
2001-01-04
'Man with no name' but with revenge, a loaded gun and a harmonica
It might be a sacrilege to call this a better Spaghetti Western than 'The Good, the bad, and the Ugly' but i loved both the films equally. The mellifluous soundtrack by Ennio Morricone further adds to the greatness of the movie.

Jason Robards provides the much needed humor in the film.

Frank(Henry Fonda) and gang kill all the MacBains. Frank fakes evidence and makes everyone believe Cheyenne's hand behind the heinous crime. Frank's activities are funded by an affluent owner of the train company, Mr.Morton. The secret idea was to grab the land the MacBains live on, which could fetch them millions of dollars.

Their plans are thwarted by the arrival of a certain Mrs.MacBain, who refuses to sell the property to Frank, and a man who goes around playing harmonica. The man is after Frank to avenge his brother's death and with the help of Cheyenne, they bring his plans down one by one. They slowly decimate Frank's manpower, then take hold of the land through auction and then put a bullet in Frank's body. The man however doesn't wait for the bounty and leaves the town after accomplishing what he had come for. Cheyenne dies after being shot by a dying Mr.Morton and Mrs.MacBain decides to stay in the town and watch MacBains' town build and grow.
2012-06-18
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.
2012-02-27
Speechless
What can I say. The best movie I have ever seen. I have seen many great movies and thought they were great, but this is something special. The whole movie, it just was awesome! Maybe it is because I loved The Adventures of Brisco County Junior as a kid or maybe it is because Bronson :D My english skills aren´t good enough that I could say what I really think, but the scene also was good. And the music! The theme song is so sad in a way and I really love the scene where Bronson kills Fonda. Not the killing itself,but the way it was made. And the music fits it perfectly! Well. That´s what I have to say of the movie :)
2004-03-02
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