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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Sergio Leone was the king of the Spaghetti Western brand of movies, with Clint Eastwood being the star in many of those. Henry Fonda was another famous star of the era, acting as the hero in many a film. However, in this film, Henry Fonda plays one of the villains, with Charles Bronson playing the lead role in the movie. The movie 'Once Upon a time in the West' was released in 1968 in Europe and was a fairly big success, running for a long time in many cities. However, this was not be in the United States, where it was released in 1969, and was a flop. Like some other movies that were well made but did not do well commercially, Once Upon a Time in the West is now regarded as a very well made movie, and among the greatest westerns. The movie starred, besides Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson, Jason Robards as the bandit Cheyenne and Claudia Cardinale as Jill (a lady who arrives at her new house to find herself a widow and her entire family killed).

The movie is about the fight for getting control of the rights for providing water (and a supply depot) to the railroad that will run past the town of Flagstone, with the farm being in the best position to supply water and other supplies to the railroad. The movie starts with a scene of a remote town in Arizona, where a train arrives, on which a stranger with a harmonica in his mouth (Bronson) gets down, hoping to find Frank (Fonda) there, but instead meets 3 men with whom he has a showdown and, he is the only survivor. At the same on a remote farm, where the McBains are waiting for a new wife Jill (Claudia Cardinale) for Brett McBain, a gang led by Frank come and kill all of them.
Soon after, Jill arrives at the station and starts to the farm. On the way, she meets the harmonica player and also the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards). When confronted by Branson about the shoot-out, Cheyenne denies that the men killed were his men. And then Jill arrives at the farm to find that her new family is all dead, but she tells the assembled crowd that she had already married McBain a month back. On the basis of some false evidence, the crowd believe that the murders were done by Cheyenne, and form a posse to hunt him down.
And then you start to discover as to why these killing happened .. this is all related to the railroad that the tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) was building that would go upto the Pacific, and Frank works for him. The story is interesting, with the collision between these different men, all of them with their own interests, and how they all come together in the end. The movie is interesting, and with some great scenes. A must watch.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, and directed by Sergio Leone

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