Once Upon a Time in the West
Directed by Sergio Leone. Italy. 1968. PG. 175 minutes. Paramount and the Academy Archive. 35mm.
Sun., September 29, 2013
Henry Fonda was one of the most beloved leading men of the mid-20th century. He was especially well-regarded as heroes in such westerns as My Darling Clementine, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Return of Frank James, and others. But when Italian director Sergio Leone wanted to cast a major player to play a heartless, sadistic killer in what many feel was his greatest masterpiece, he did one of the best jobs of casting against type in the history of films – he chose Fonda. Despite a cast that includes Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and Woody Strode, and a story of nearly operatic proportions, the one thing you are sure to walk away with from this film is the memory of Fondas cold- blooded, baby-blue-eyed uber-villain. And, thanks to Ennio Morricones stunning musical score, particularly when it high-lights the scenes involving a harmonica, you will be hard-pressed to ever forget Once Upon a Time In The West. This film not only plays against type, it totally re-invents your perception of an exceptional actor and erstwhile western hero. (Bill Roth)
35mm print restored by Paramount Pictures and Sergio Leone Productions with the Academy Film Archive. Restoration funding provided by Cinema per Roma Foundation and The Film Foundation.