Friday, March 23, 2007
157: Once upon a time in the west.
Epic spaghetti western and pure Sergio Leone, lots of close ups of
uglypeoples faces and plenty of Gunplay. There are echos of
"The Good the Bad and the Ugly" in that the male leads fill those
roles nicely, Charles Bronson as the enigmatic 'Harmonica' (we
never find out his real name) Fonda as the child murdering (just so
there is no doubt about his depravity) bad guy Frank and
(quick IMDB lookup) Jason Robards as the
really-not-as-bad-as-he-initially-seems bandit Cheyenne.
When I say epic I'm not kidding it clocks in at just under 3 hours.
And a lot of the time you feel every minute of it. From the brilliant
opening scene where 3 of franks gang are waiting at the train station
for Harmonica. It must be 10 minutes of the three of them just standing
around in silence barring the background noise ( a dog barking, a fly
buzzing dripping water etc) , the movie opens with 10 minutes of nothing
happening and I was absolutely riveted. brilliant.
Speaking of silence the movie is pretty sparse on the dialogue but what
little we get is great stuff. My favorite is when Harmonica gets off the
train and is faced with Franks henchmen..
"you bring a horse for me?"
laughs, "looks like we're one shy.'
"no.. you brought two too many"
Once he out-dialogues them, he then out-guns them. classic stuff.
One thing that really stood out for me with this movie is that the
audience are assumed to be able to put two and two together,
expositionary dialog is kept to a bare minimum. So its pretty engaging stuff.
When we were kids my brother and I saw the 'Man with no name' trilogy
a lot as my Dad was a big fan. To my mind this film is much darker than
those movies, but maybe thats just because Its been so long since I've seen
them, I'll have to pick them up and see.