Once Upon a Time in the West


Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards Jr., Charles Bronson,

Where the Dollars trilogy was about the lethal lengths to which one might go to get a fistful, this saga draws a bead on the taming of the once-wild West as an industrial enterprise. Here the railroad cuts across the virgin landscape on the iron tracks of progress, powered not by steam but by the dark coal of capital. Cast against type, Henry Fonda, his blue eyes cooled to evil azure, does the bidding of a railway tycoon (Gabrielle Ferzetti) driven by his own “loco” motives. Derailing the plans of big money is Claudia Cardinale as a frontier widow fighting for her spread, aided by two high plains drifters, Cheyenne (Jason Robards), an old-school outlaw, and Harmonica (Charles Bronson), an avenging angel with a devil’s quick draw. All of Sergio Leone’s punch-drunk particulars are here: the epic close-ups of weathered faces, Ennio Morricone’s telegraphic score, and smokin’ shoot-outs set against majestic vistas. This time, though, Leone brings his revisions right to Monument Valley, putting the whole Western genre squarely in his sights.

—Steve Seid

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  • Sergio Leone
  • Sergio Donati
Based On
  • treatments by Leone, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci

  • Tonino Delli Colli
Print Info
  • Color
  • 'Scope DCP
  • 167 mins
  • Paramount Pictures