Tuesday, July 05, 2005


NOTE SPECIAL SCREENING TIME: 7:15pm (the runtime is just shy of 3 hours)

Sergio Leone's Masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West is hailed by many as one of the best westerns ever made. I would venture to go one further and put as one of the best films ever made.
First, it is an iconic American story, epic in scope: The principle story arc follows the Railroad as it inches through the frontier, one of the quintessential American mythologies. The secondary story is that of revenge, another american cinema staple. Second it is European: Shot in Spain, filmed, written by Italians (Sergio Leone, Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento) and starring the sultry Italian beauty, Claudia Cardinale. Third, it is pulpy: The haunting musical score, coupled with the many showdowns and a stylized placement of principle characters in the frame, often up close with endless plains in the background. Fourth, there is depth to the stories and characters: Once Upon a Time in the West is a step forward for Leone from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in which the three main characters are more ideal forms than the messy lives inhabited by the many characters on display here. Lastly, it is not afraid to mix it up: Leone casts Henry Fonda, known for his honest and upright portaits of american wholesomeness (The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men), and lets him portray one mean and nasty piece of thuggery.

Enough of what makes this movie great. If you haven't seen this, or haven't seen it on a large screen, come out TONITE AT 7:15 (7:00 for home-made pizza and a cold libation) and take in this glorious piece of cinema, which many have borrowed the title to impart a sense of the epic (Once Upon a Time in China, Once upon a Time in Mexico, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, Once Upon a Time in India), but nobody has even tried to top Leone's masterpiece.


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