Once Upon a Time in the West - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Once Upon a Time in the West Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2018
Coming in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, and giving us vast canvases of the old west, this film from director Sergio Leone is truly epic in scope. The cinematography is fantastic, and while marveling over the wide shots, you really feel as dry and dusty as the characters. The overall tone screams old west, and while it takes awhile to get there, the final 30 minutes or so is stirring, and memorable. The film is legendary in reputation and adored by many, so I'll tread as lightly as possible in my criticism. I just found it fell a little short in its casting, in its muddled middle portion, and its treatment of Claudia Cardinale's character.

I'll start with Henry Fonda, who is a mixed bag for me. I liked the contrast of his blue eyes with his dark character, and he certainly does things which emphasize his cruelty - killing a child in cold blood, knocking down his crippled boss, and committing rape. It's a decent performance, but to me Fonda didn't quite fit in the part. Not enough grit to be believable, and at 63, too old.

Charles Bronson is similarly 'just ok', and he's certainly no Clint Eastwood. It may be unfair to compare Leone to his other work, but I liked 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly' much more, because of Eastwood, a more compelling plot, and that extraordinary musical refrain. The harmonica we get here kind of pales in comparison.

While it's fantastic to see the beautiful Cardinale in the film, the rape scene made me cringe, and not because of the act itself, but because how Leone captures it. Cardinale is supposed to be pretending to go along with Fonda to survive, so some of what we see is to be expected, but to see no fear or disgust, and just waves of rapture instead, is sickening. Earlier Cardinale says that Cheyenne (Jason Robards) could bend her over the table and have his men have their way with her, and all she'd have to do is wash off with hot water afterwards. It could be the voice of the hardened prostitute talking, but the overall impression of rape this scene and the other give is that it's just a sex act, one a woman may actually enjoy, instead of an act of great violence with devastating consequences. So we have a male fantasy of rape to go alone with that of the fantasy of the fearless, cool gunslinger, the latter of which has plenty of Americans wanting to walk around carrying a gun, thinking they fit this image.

My apologies if this is coming across unbalanced in the other direction, and too negative. There are plenty of great moments and great shots, both of the scenery and in close-ups. The relationship between Fonda and Bronson is effective, and as in Leone's other works, they share the mindset of the hardened killer, understanding one another as they circle each other's path throughout the movie. While we certainly have an idea of the backstory behind Bronson's character, the reveal towards the end is a powerful moment. If you like westerns, this is must-see. If you don't, I don't think I'd pick this one to try to convert you.
½ February 17, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.
½ February 11, 2018
4.5/5

Unquestionably epic, layered, and talented in every sense.
January 3, 2018
One of the great westerns. Fonda playing against type helps really make the movie shine. If not for some slow pacing in spots and some overly melodramatic score choices, this movie would approach a 5-star rating.
½ December 31, 2017
I saw this again recently and while it's still pretty impressive, it's so long and boring in parts!
December 26, 2017
A compelling story the whole ride through. It has well built characters with depth and plot that continues to build throughout the movie. Great music, great direction, and a great ending to wrap it all up.
December 19, 2017
Puntaje Original: 6.0

A pesar de la mágica música de Morricone, Once Upon a Time in the West no puede compensar su lento ritmo narrativo.
December 18, 2017
It is always a surprise to come across a great old movie. This so called spaghetti western was excellent. Henry Fonda as a bad ass villian (he kills a child) is terrific as is Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, & Charles Bronson. If you haven't seen it, don't let the 2.5 hours stop you. It is terrific.
December 7, 2017
It's a tough movie to watch, but the more you think about it the better it gets.
December 5, 2017
A masterfully made, if frustratingly imperfect epic that starts out with some of the best things that filmmaking has to offer, furthers its plot with some elements that represent more of a mixed bag, and finishes with - again - some of the best things that filmmaking has to offer. It's supremely well-made from a cinematographic standpoint. Every shot feels like the threads of a suit that's been tailor made. It's impeccably scored, featuring a bevy of memorable cues for each noteworthy character. It's got an incredible filmmaker behind its camera, without a shadow of a doubt. But there are some other, rather questionable elements to the film - particularly concerning Claudia Cardinale's character - that don't really age that well, and a plot that wavers into convoluted territory within the second act. Definitely a fantastically made film, with a really strong opening and finish, but one that - for me - also possessed a flawed middle portion.
½ December 3, 2017
Terrible. Skip to the 2hr20min mark to see the start of the, whatever, final showdown. You'll have the same amount of buy in to these characters whether or not you sat bored and confused for the previous 2 hours.
November 30, 2017
Excellent 'spaghetti western from director Sergio Leone.
The film has the same Italian crew as the Dollars trilogy it appears but has a lot more money on the screen.
The set designs, cinematography and locations including Death Valley in Utah, U.S. are used to full effect.
I had some trepidation before watching the film about the casting. Rather the omission of Dollars stalwart Clint Eastwood.
I needn't have had those thoughts. Charles Bronson appears to fill his role as the gunslinger with little vocabulary (rather a harmonica) with ease.
You can see some of the Bronson hallmarks of revenge in his character incidentally called Harmonica!
The music from composer Ennio Morricone is excellent again. A blend of late sixties/seventies guitar strings with the harmonica influence.
I watched with the television on high volume to appreciate the soundtrack and some excellent sound effects such as rusty railway station signs blowing etc. during tense stand offs opitimised by staring of characters!
The stand offs do drag on at times and inevitably the run time of the film goes up. One of my few complaints.
The polished appearance of the film whilst noticeable goes against the lower budget grittiness of Leone's Dollars trilogy.
The American locations are used to full effect as the story revolves around the expansion of railroads.
At times I felt I was spotting excellent actors from other films I have enjoyed such as Henry Fonda and Gabrielle Ferzetti (On Her Majesty's Secret Service).
November 19, 2017
I think this spaghetti western is in my best top 10 list of all time. It's a well choreographed masterpiece and cinematically visually stunning . Too long for some, but for a lover of the dying western this was a must-see growing up. Age may come into play as Clint Eastwood et al were big at the time.Because it was so positively embedded in my memory at an early age I have no problem watching it again and again and therefore I disagree with Jy Skacto's superuser review below. To each his own I guess, but a 95% positive viewer rating usually means something's right. From its 1968 release date until the present how many movies receive that kind of rating? An amazing achievement and undertaking for that period.
November 18, 2017
The characters, the songs, the movie itself is a classic western-style truth.
½ November 12, 2017
An overblown Western that is about an hour longer than it needed to be. It dragged on and on, and didn't flow well. I did like the casting though. It was odd to see Henry Fonda in the role of the villain, but he played it well. It also had some cinematic moments and a good ending, but that couldn't save it for me. (First and only viewing - 10/1/2017)
November 6, 2017
Westerns aren't supposed to be this confusing
½ October 17, 2017
An iconic western but not Sergio Leones best in my opinion. The film was too long . Some decent acting from Fonda ,Robards & Bronson but the story didn't flow too well. Some great scenery, great music and an ok film at best
½ October 13, 2017
Slow but great cast and unforgettable score
October 6, 2017
Puntaje Original: 6.0

A pesar de la mágica música de Morricone, Once Upon a Time in the West no puede compensar su lento ritmo narrativo.
September 15, 2017
i liked the movie, i found it confusing, and i was a little annoyed by all the harmonica playing. but its a good one,
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