Once Upon a Time in the West


Harmonica: "Did you bring a horse for me?"
assassin #3: "Looks like we're shy one horse."
Harmonica: "No...you brought two too many."



release year: 1968
genre: western
viewing setting: home Bluray 3/15/15 and home DVD, 11/15/06 and 11/23/03

synopsis: A bandit, a killer, a mysterious gunman, and a railroad baron all cross paths with a beautiful widow and her slain husband's dream.

impressions: This is pretty much the biggest, baddest western made by Sergio Leone or possibly anybody. It has a ridiculously simple plot that is brought to life by strong acting and interesting direction. Be warned: this is a long movie (2.5 hours) and you have to pay attention to understand what's happening and why. I can see how those with little patience or who are easily distracted would get confused. I don't want to spoil any of the several plot points that are revealed throughout the movie, but let me just say that there are gunfights and lots of western tough-guy behavior.

things to watch for: The setup and gunfight in the first fifteen minutes.

something this movie has that no other movie has: a harmonica-playing gunman

acting: There are several good perfomances here. Henry Fonda, who apparently took lighthearted and good-guy roles before this, is great as a cocky, ruthless killer. Jason Robards plays a bandit chief with a soft side and a sense of morality. Charles Bronson is quiet and dangerous as a mysterious loner with a score to settle. Claudia Cardinale is easy on the eyes as a gorgeous but common woman who was hoping for a new life but must deal with bad things. The guy who played the dying railroad magnate did a good job as the less evil of the bad guys.

final word: lengthy but classic western

back to the main review page