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  • Writer's pictureValerie A. Higgs

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Synopsis:

A mysterious harmonica-playing drifter gets entangled in a land grab plot between a beautiful widow and a greedy rail baron whilst seeking revenge from a notorious gangster.

What can I say? This Western is almost perfect, as far as I'm concerned.


The casting. The cinematography. The costumes. The set and setting. The story. The score.


Oh man, the score. Thank you, Maestro Ennio Morricone.


One of my favorite things to do is look up the cast on IMDB. I didn't realize that Jill (Claudia Cardinale) was the Princess in The Pink Panther. I also didn't realize she was in Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (which is on my list). The first time I really watched this movie (about 14 years ago), I didn't realize how much of a badass she was as Jill. I noticed this time.


I rolled my eyes at the fact that she was secretly a prostitute mainly because, newsflash, Hollywood: can you write women that are badasses without being prostitutes? The movie was released in 1968, so I just went with it.


There were folks in the cast that starred in popular movies and television a lot into the 70s and early 80s. They all have been lost to time, except maybe Henry Fonda - and that is due to his daughter Jane Fonda, who is still relevant these days.


One of the bigger shocks to me was that famous horror director Dario Argento helped write the script. As a horror fan, you'd think that I'd know that.


This movie was almost 3 hours long. If you've never watched it, just get some snacks and beverages, snuggle into the sofa, and watch it one sitting. You can do it. It makes more sense that way. Unlike Ben-Hur, there is no intermission.


The storyline is pretty engaging, as far as the history of the old West is concerned. Also, though the movie is long, you really need the slow burn and character development to appreciate the payoff at the climax of the movie. You need all of it. It wouldn't have as much of an impact otherwise.


What I found intriguing is that though cowboys were in this movie, it wasn't a "cowboy and Indian" movie. But the indigenous peoples were throughout. They were even thanked by the producers at the end of the credits for allowing the film to be made on their land (Arizona and Utah). Silent, yet there all the time.


One of the greatest films of all time? Yes, sir!





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