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Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) [DVD] 
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A mysterious woman in the Old West is in danger from a band of ruthless gunmen.
Sergio Leone had to be persuaded to return to the Western for Once Upon a Time in the West after the success of his "Dollars" trilogy. The result is a masterpiece that expands the vision of the earlier movies in every way. It could as easily have been called The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Blonde as Charles Bronson steps into the No-Name role as the harmonica-playing vengeance seeker, Henry Fonda trashes his Wyatt Earp image as a dead-faced, blue-eyed killer who has sold out to the rapacious railroad; Jason Robards provides humanitarian footnotes as a life-loving but doomed bandit and the astonishingly beautiful Claudia Cardinale shows that all these grown-up little boys are less fit to make a country than one determined widow-mother-whore-angel-everywoman. The opening sequence--Woody Strode, Al Mulock and Jack Elam waiting for a train and bothered by a fly and dripping water--is masterful bravura, homing in on tiny details for a fascinating but eventless length of time before Bronson arrives for the lightning-fast shoot-out. With striking widescreen compositions and epic running time, this picture truly wins points for length and width.
On the DVD: Once Upon a Time in the West on disc is the transfer fans have been waiting for: the longest available version of the film in shimmering widescreen (enhanced for 16:9 TVs) which lends full impact to Leone's long shots of Monument Valley scenery or bustling crowds of activity, but also highlights his ultra-close images as Bronson's beady eyes or Cardinale's luscious pout fill the entire screen. A commentary track is mostly by expert Sir Christopher Frayling, with input from other academics, participants and enthusiasts--it's good on the detail, and Alex Cox winningly points out that one scene bizarrely can't be reconciled with what happens before or after it.
Disc 2 has four featurettes which, taken together, add up to a feature-length documentary on the film, and though overlapping the commentary slightly offer a wealth of further good stuff, plus the elegant Cardinale's undiminished smile. Also included is the trailer, notes on the cast, menu screens with generous selections from Ennio Morricone's score, stills gallery, comparison shots from the film and contemporary snapshots of the locations. --Kim Newman
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Top Customer Reviews
From the wonderful crescendo of the opening scenes (the longest start to a movie without a word of dialogue?) to the eerie, bewitching harmonica strains of Charles Bronson, this is a piece of film-making you will remember for a long time.
Henry Fonda was famously cast against type - since Twelve Angry Men in '57 he had played numerous whiter-than-white roles - and the American cinema-going public were shocked at the cold and vicious Frank...
Jason Robards is great as the laconic, amused middleman, Charles Bronson dark and quiet doing what he does best, the impenetrable, mysterious, native-American stranger.
Anyway, what with Leone's lingering, photographic landscape shots, the fact that the score was played on set so that the actors and cameras could move with the music and the choreographed, dance-like gunfight scene at the end (Fonda, filmed from behind at foot level, taking off his black jacket, dropping it to his right and slowly stepping to his left - a movie moment!), this really is an all-time classic.
A film for Friday night, a few Mexican beers, darkened room and preferably a big wide-screen TV...
On the surface the plot is a simple revenge tale involving Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda, and this unfolds gradually during the course of the movie using flashbacks - for a more detailed synopsis of the plot, check out many other excellent reviews here. Looking deeper into the story, Sergio Leone is documenting the end of an era, by showing the effects of the railroad moving West - almost a generation after the time of the "Dollars" trilogy.
However, what launches this movie head and shoulders above its peers is the breathtaking combination of cinematography and music - rightly described as "operatic". Morricone's score was allegedly played on set during filming, and I'm sure I could see Claudia Cardinale's movement in some scenes co-ordinated to the music. Leone also dispenses with the quirky humour he brought into The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - this is a movie meant as a serious statement on the Western genre.
Is it the best Western ever made?
Maybe. My concern is the amount of "homework" Leone did on this movie before filming. He immersed himself so much in the American Western that you can easily pick out the homage to other great Westerns - The Searchers, High Noon and Shane amongst them. However, there is also enough originality here to support its case as the best Western ever made - to me it's a dead heat with The Searchers.
This DVD re-master quality is simply stunning - a 40 yr old film has no right to look this good, and the sound quality is mainly front-orientated Dolby 5.1 with excellent dynamic range. Get the beer out the fridge, put the lights out and turn the volume up - this is a unique movie to be savoured.
This disc is region-free,the signal type is MPEG4 in full 1080p resolution which shows the features beautiful range colours and the now the greater range of blacks, the actors sun-baked skin now look even more stubbly and sweaty, the sound which is now up-graded to 5.1 DTS Master Audio this jumps out of the speakers, the first gun fight at the railway station which has very little dialogue, is now even more impressive as the sound effects sound like they have been on steroids the gunfire now rattles across your living room, the dripping water and squeaking water wheel create the atmosphere as never before bringing the viewer even closer to the action.
This Blu-ray also has Dolby mono in English as well as dubbed French and Spanish; there are subs in English for the hard of hearing, subtitles in French, Spanish and Portuguese with commentary contributions from Directors John Carpenter, John Milius and Alex Cox and Film Historians Sir Christopher Frayling and Dr Sheldon Hall as well as cast and crew.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Would like it if there was a soft pack with a booklet available, but this is perfectly finePublished 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Just perfect. Fast delivery and excellent product. Thanks. I will return againPublished 23 days ago by kim Lunding
Is it one of the best films ever made? Possibly. Is it one of the best westerns ever made? Probably. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Wilkinson65