Posts Tagged ‘sergio leone’

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

December 14, 2009

Better late than never!

Click for bigger images.



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.

Western double feature for the last weekend of “69”

December 10, 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, so does our year-long series exploring the films of 1969.

We began with new prints of two outlaw odysseys Easy Rider and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We close the series with two icons of cinema, John Wayne in True Grit (Wayne won his only Academy award for his leading role), and Henry Fonda in Sergio Leone’s ever popular Once Upon a Time in the West. Both are operatic, impressive Westerns in their own right, but more importantly for the 69 series, these are films that highlight the outlaw spirit that dominated the year.

Join us for the final screenings in this historic series this weekend, December 12-13.

Reflect on everything you’ve seen by looking through our blog archives here, and looking at the entire year’s programming schedule here.

And here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Sergio Leone, courtesy of Richard Jameson and Parallax View:

Space is a constant adventure in Once Upon a Time in the West. The film’s baroque vastnesses resonate with the promise of a detonation that will at once supply energy for the winning of the West and shatter its aesthetic sublimity. Four bodies crash down around an acre of plank flooring, followed almost immediately by a full-screen shot of sun-creased skin and one blue eye returning to life. To watch Leone’s film is to realize how few truly widescreen movies there have been. Three, maybe four men die under the creaking wheel of the windmill, and in the next scene Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) pans the circuit of his Sweetwater claim when the constant life-sound of the cicadas stops of a sudden. His survey reveals nothing. After a moment he turns his attention to getting water from the well; the wind raises a swell of dust, the cicadas cease again, and he and his family are wiped out, their assassins metamorphosing out of the very color of the land. His new widow similarly checks the same dooryard after a night-long vigil in the home she never had; yet a moment later Cheyenne (Jason Robards) is there at the door when she opens it, and his men sit beyond on their horses, and moments/hours later they are still sitting there when Cheyenne has done talking with her.

Read the whole thing here.


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