Once Upon a Time in the West | Chicago Reader

Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone, famous for his spaghetti westerns shot in Spain, dared to invade John Ford's own Monument Valley for this 1969 epic. He brought back a masterpiece, a film that expands his baroque, cartoonish style into genuine grandeur, weaving dozens of thematic variations and narrative arabesques around a classical western foundation myth. It's very much a foreigner's film, drawing its elements not from historical reality but from the mythic base made universal by the movies. Moments of intense realism flow into passages of operatic extravagance; lowbrow burlesque exists side by side with the expression of the most refined shades of feeling. The film failed commercially and was savagely recut by its distributor, Paramount Pictures; copies from the European version may be as close as we'll ever get to the original. With Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards; Bernardo Bertolucci contributed to the script.



  • Sergio Leone


  • Henry Fonda
  • Claudia Cardinale
  • Charles Bronson
  • Jason Robards
  • Frank Wolff
  • Gabriele Ferzetti
  • Keenan Wynn
  • Paolo Stoppa
  • Marco Zuanelli
  • Lionel Stander
  • Jack Elam
  • Woody Strode
  • John Frederick
  • Enzo Santianello


  • Dario Argento
  • Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Sergio Leone


  • Fulvio Morsella
  • Bino Cicogna

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