Once Upon a Time in the West

"You don’t sell the dream of a lifetime."

Sergio Leone didn’t want to return to westerns after his Man With No Name trilogy – he already felt like made his western epic and wanted to move on to something else. When Paramount offered him a three picture deal with a big budget AND Henry Fonda though, he couldn’t pass it up and he found himself returning to the well once again. But would it work as well as his previous films did? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our celebration of films and series from 1968 by digging into Leone’s Once Upon a Time trilogy, starting it off in 1968 with his western masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West.

We talk about why Leone decided to get back into westerns and how he and collaborators Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento infused the project with elements from countless of their favorite westerns. We look at the patience of Leone’s storytelling and why it works so well here. We discuss the key actors – Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards – and look at what they each bring to the table. We chat about Ennio Morricone and his themes for each of the principal characters and the luxury of having pre-recorded score to play on set. And we look at some of the marvelous locations they film in and why they work so well to create this western world.

It’s a strong entry into the western genre and into Leone’s oeuvre, and is a film we have a great time watching and discussing. Check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.

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