Friday, 22 January 2010

Once Upon a Time in the West

This turned up from EasyCinema the other day.  I must have added it to my list of films, probably when we came back from seeing the Spaghetti Western Orchestra.  I've seen the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns numerous times, but I've never seen Once Upon a Time in the West.  Not ever. Not even when I was small.  I'm not really a fan of westerns, so I expected to find it tedious.

We watched it yesterday.   I was really pleasantly surprised.  It's a loooooooong, slow moving film, the kind that just wouldn't get made today.  The plot unfolds slowly,  it takes a long time to work out who's who, who's pretending to be who,  who's a good guy, who isn't.     I had to pay attention as a lot of the characters looked very similar.    Charles Bronson was interesting, such a "lived in" face. Actually I had a bit of a thing for CB when I was a child,  I saw him in The Great Escape and thought he was gorgeous.   II'm not sure what the appeal was now,  although his grey eyes are lovely.     Mind you, everyone in this film seemed to have piercing or beautiful eyes, part of the fantastic lighting.

The music, by Ennio Morricone of course,  is just incredible.  I found the music for this really compelling,  more so than Clint's westerns.   The main theme has a recurring bit  which is done with voices.  When this piece played (which it did, a lot, throughout the film)  I kept hearing it à la Spaghetti Western Orchestra (played on a Moog Theremin).

I'm not sure that I'd watch it again, at least not for some time.   There is something really special about watching that sort of film for the first time, when I  don't know what is going to happen or how it is going to turn out and I'm trying to work it all out.       I remember the first time I watched "The Sting" (again, as a child - I watched a lot of films then).  I was really upset  when the FBI man told Robert Redford that he could go, so that Paul Newman knew who had betrayed him. And when Paul Newman shot Robert Redford, I was somewhat distressed.       I like watching The Sting now,  but there isn't that, that...engagement  with the characters and the story, that not knowing the story brings.

Hmm. I might try another unseen spaghetti western.  There aren't any others directed by Sergio Leone that I haven't seen, but I might try another director, as long as the score is by Ennio Morricone.  


  1. The music from this movie stuck in my head for a long time. Seeing it once was enough. Not a feel good movie.

  2. You're rught Callie, not exactly a feel good movie.