9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Monumental Film Making,
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) [DVD]  (DVD)
Sergio Leone made many great films, but this is the greatest of them all.
Firstly apart from the film itself:
The picture quality is marvellous, for a film that is 37 years old, it looks brand new. The extras are very good - especially the commentry by Christopher Frayling (who has written an excellent biography of Sergio Leone) which is most informative. I had seen the film many times over the years before I bought the DVD but never spotted a moment in the long pre-credit sequence when Jack Elam pulls the wires from the telegraph machine. In the commentary Frayling points out that its not just the noise from the machine that stops when the wires are pulled ALL noise stops - its quite surreal once you realise.
Anyway the film itself is magnificent. This is a 2 hour 40 minute film and barely a second is wasted. Unlike a lot of modern films it is not filled with endless explosions and gun fights. This is a film that keeps you engrossed through character development and brilliant cinemaphotography. You have to symapthise with Claudia Cardinale, you really want to hate Henry Fonda (but its a struggle) and you want to be Charles Bronson (in what may have originally been a role written with Clint Eastwood in mind). I am not a fan of Bronson but this is a great performance.
Each of the four main characters has a distinctive musical theme supplied by Ennio Morricone, and it is claimed that the actors based their movements on these themes. Leone originally planned to have the Good the Bad and the Ugly (Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach) waiting at the Station for Charles Bronson at the start of the film but sadly this was never possible. However Jack Elam, Woody Strode and the 3rd actor add something because they are not so well known. Although they had variously appeared in a number of major films (such as High Noon).
The film references a multitude of previous westerns. One of the most obvious being The Searchers - Leone uses the framed doorway..
You are unlikely to guess the ending to this film and will probably be as surprised as Frank is. Go and buy this film now!