Once upon a Time in the West

Once upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone (1968)

158min
15 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
In seeking to paint "a fresco on the birth of a great nation", Sergio Leone turned to the Hollywood western, rather than American history, for his inspiration. Set at the time when the dollar replaced the bullet as the currency of the frontier, this breathtaking tale of progress, greed and revenge clearly bears the influence of John Ford's seminal silent western The Iron Horse (1924). The story focuses on brutish gunfighter Frank (Henry Fonda), who dreams of becoming a tycoon, but is still prepared to resort to trusted methods to drive widow Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale) off the land coveted by a ruthless railroad company. However, Frank must also deal with a mysterious harmonica player (Charles Bronson), as well as sympathetic outlaw Cheyenne (Jason Robards), if he is to achieve his goal. The screenplay was based on an original treatment by Bernardo Bertolucci, Dario Argento and Leone himself; despite such impressive credentials, however, much of the action was improvised around the mood of the score, which Ennio Morricone had composed in advance. No wonder many critics described the film as an operatic masterpiece.

Summary

Jill McBain arrives in a frontier town to meet her husband, only to find he has been murdered. A railway tycoon wants the land Jill and her husband own, and has hired a ruthless hitman to kill them. But an outlaw, who was falsely accused of the crime, and a mysterious, vengeful stranger decide to protect her. Sergio Leone's Western, starring Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale and Charles Bronson.

Cast & Crew

Frank Henry Fonda
Cheyenne Jason Robards
Jill McBain Claudia Cardinale
Harmonica Charles Bronson
Brett McBain Frank Wolff
Morton Gabriele Ferzetti
Sheriff Keenan Wynn
Sam Paolo Stoppa
Director Sergio Leone
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: BFIGuidance: Contains some violence and swearing. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray
Drama