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Once upon a Time in the West

Title: Once upon a Time in the West
Directed by:
Sergio Leone
Written by:
Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci
Year: 1968

When I was younger, I liked the romantic version of the Wild West presented in  Jackson Cole’s books about the brave ranger Walt Slade, but since then, I haven’t been interested at all, with the possible exception of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which i consider a masterpiece. Once upon a Time in the West is ranked 18th on IMDB’s list of top 200 movies and since both these spaghetti westerns are directed by Sergio Leone and highly regarded, I assumed that they would be roughly similar in quality.

It would be wrong to say that I was gravely disappointed, but I do think this film has nothing whatsoever to do close to the top of that list. Where The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was ingenious, Once upon a Time in the West is merely adequate. The story opens with Harmonica (he’s called that because he always plays a harmonica when he should speak and vice versa, as the bandit Cheyenne puts it) stepping of a train, facing three men and demanding to meet with Frank. A shootout ensues; Harmonica is the only survivor. He later joins forces with Cheyenne to protect a widow from the ruthless Frank, competing for the wealth following in the wake of the ever-expanding railway.

As is the case with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the directing and acting are both good or very good. There’s no doubt that people involved in this film know what they are doing. However, the basic premise isn’t that interesting. The story is straightforward, a bit long-winded and nothing I’ll remember in the future. Since I’m not that interested in the genre itself, this’s a serious flaw, but I’m still prepared to grant three snails for good directing and skilled execution.

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  1. walium’s avatar

    Jag håller med. “Den gode, den onde och den fule” är avsevärt mycket bättre. Den är inte bara snygg utan har även en betydligt intressantare handling och mer kompletta karaktärer.