Original 1969 reviews of “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “True Grit”

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Better late than never!

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Credit: Film Quarterly v. 23 no. 1 (Fall 1969) p. 57



Once Upon a Time in the West
Variety Staff.  Variety Review Database.  New York:Jan 1969.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc. Jan 1969

Henry Fonda and Jason Robards relish each screen minute as the heavies, and Charles Bronson plays Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ role.

Italy – US

Paramount/Rafran/San Marco. Director Sergio Leone; Producer Fulvio Morsella; Screenplay Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati, Mickey Knox; Camera Tonino Delli Colli; Editor Nino Baragli; Music Ennio Morricone; Art Director Carlo Simi

Henry Fonda and Jason Robards relish each screen minute as the heavies, and Charles Bronson plays Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ role.

Leone’s story here [from one by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and himself], presented in broad strokes through careful interconnection of set-piece action, focuses on the various reactions of four people – the three male leads, plus Claudia Cardinale, extremely effective as a fancy lady from New Orleans – to the idea of garnering extreme wealth via ownership of a crucial watertown on the route of the transcontinental railroad.

The paradoxical, but honest ‘fun’ aspect of Leone’s previous preoccupation with elaborately-stylized violence is here unconvincingly asking for consideration in a new ‘moral’ light. This means that Leone’s own special talent for playing with film ideas gets lost in a no man’s land of the merely initiative.

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