A mysterious gunslinger joins forces with a notorious outlaw to
protect a widow from a ruthless killer working for the railroad.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Sergio Donati and Sergio Leone
Starring Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda,
Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Gabriele Ferzetti
Once Upon a Time in the West is an exciting, beautifully filmed western epic that is a brilliant example of how great a filmmaker Sergio Leone was. With a nearly three hour run time, the film does become inevitably slow at times, but the fantastic performances and thrilling gunfights more than make up for it.
This film is best known for being Henry Fonda's foray into villainy, with his performance as the heartless Frank. Fonda, who was known for playing compassionate and likable characters, gives an incredible performance as the villain. Frank is such an evil bastard, that it almost makes you forget that this is Henry Fonda playing him. In the role of mysterious hero is action star Charles Bronson, who plays the aptly named Harmonica. While a man of few words, Harmonica is a man with a clear path of revenge against Frank, for reasons that are not revealed until the end of the film. I also enjoyed Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain and Jason Robards as the outlaw Cheyenne. Overall, the film has a solid cast.
Once Upon a Time in the West is one of those films that everybody should see. It's the quintessential western, with outlaws, railroad barons, revenge, dusty landscapes, and of course shootouts. While some may be intimidated by its long running time (I know I was), it's definitely worth it to give it a chance.