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

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.

Once Upon a Time in the West

Italy - US

Production

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

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1969. Running time: 165 MIN.

With

Henry Fonda Claudia Cardinale Jason Robards Charles Bronson Gabriele Ferzetti Lionel Stander

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more