Once Upon a Time in the West

Best Movie of the Year 1968

Once Upon a Time in the West is an Italian Western (Spaghetti Western) from 1968, directed by Sergio Leone. Possibly the best movie ever made. Every detail is perfect, which is not unexpected in a movie directed by Sergio Leone with music by Ennio Morricone. They previously made the Dollars Trilogy, i.e. A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Those movies are all very good, but Once Upon a Time in the West is even better.

The Irishman Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) bought a large area of land in the wilderness, outside the town of Flagstone, Arizona. At this time, Flagstone was a western town under construction. Most people believe that Brett McBain’s land is worthless, because it is very dry and nothing can grow there. Ironically, he calls his farm Sweetwater. He lives there with his daughter and two sons. The children’s mother died several years ago. They live a scant life, but Brett McBain is talking about that maybe they will become rich in the future. However, that will never happen. One day, five men, led by Frank (Henry Fonda), arrived and murdered the family. The half-Indian Cheyenne (Jason Robards) becomes innocently suspected of the massacre. The very same day, Brett’s new wife, Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale), arrives by train from New Orleans, but there is no one to meet her at Flagstone’s train station.

Harmonica (Charles Bronson) is a man of few words who wants revenge on Frank for something that happened in the past. He got the nickname Harmonica because he plays the harmonica and he never reveals his real name.

Once Upon a Time in the West is a masterpiece by Sergio Leone. Lengthy scenes and sparse but very well-written dialogue is typical of Leone and that is true also for this artistic western movie. The opening scene is the longest in film history. The movie contains many references to other famous western movies. There are also some nice pictures and sounds of steam-engines/trains.

With Special Collector’s Edition, you can watch Once Upon a Time in the West the way Sergio Leone intended. The special edition double-DVD also contains great bonus features.

The musical score, composed by Ennio Morricone, is also a masterpiece. The film has a few different theme songs, which are tied to each of the main characters.

Once Upon a Time in the West was the first spaghetti western to be partly recorded outside of Spain and Italy. Most of it was filmed in Almeria in southern Spain, but it also contains some scenes from Monument Valley (Arizona / Utah, USA), where John Ford shot many of his classic western movies.

The original Italian title of Once Upon a Time in the West is C’era una volta il West.

Once Upon a Time in the West trailer