Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West Trailers

Original title C'era una volta il West
Category Action, Western
UK Release Date
Production year 1968
Production Country
Directors Sergio Leone
Cast Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Gabriele Ferzetti, Paolo Stoppa, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn, Frank Wolff, Lionel Stander, Al Mulock, Aldo Sambrell, Fabio Testi
Distributor British Film Institute (BFI)


Right from its virtuoso opening – an extended remodelling of the traditional Western shoot-out – Leone's milestone movie draws on familiar genre motifs, and tests their mythical aspirations against tawdry historical reality. Blending an elliptical vengeance drama (with Bronson as a nameless hunter), a perverse variation on the parable of civilisation brought to the wilderness (Cardinale as whoring earth mother), and a laconic commentary on the mores of a changing world (courtesy of Robards' wry outlaw), the film nods to classics like The Iron Horse and Johnny Guitar in focusing on the building of a railroad out west – facilitated by a sadistic gunman improbably but brilliantly played by Henry Fonda. Co-scripted by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci, the film's at once elegiac, ironic, subversive and supremely cinematic, and this restoration highlights the joy Leone took in sound (especially Morricone's score) and image (Tonino Delli Colli laying out Monument Valley in 'Scope). Magnificent. – Geoff Andrew