Okay, I'm still waiting on a few elements before I can finish my film. So instead of just sitting here going, "um, uh um ah um." I figure I'll stop bitching about movies for a little bit and talk about a movie I absolutely adore!
ARRRR THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
I have a list of 10 movies that I absolutely love. Granted, my 10 tends to vacillate a bit and I'll discuss that when the time comes. However, I'm going to talk about my number 4 favorite film of all time: Once Upon a Time in the West. Man, where do I begin with such an excellent film? Okay, I'll talk a little about the film history first.
Okay, so it's the fifth film directed by the wonderful Sergio Leone (The first four being: Colossus of Rhodes, A Fistful of Dollars [which is a remake and I love both the original and the remake], For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). Leone wanted to move on from the Western genre after he finished his notorious Man with No Name Trilogy but Paramount managed to get him to do one more with Henry Fonda. Leone wanted Eastwood to return but Eastwood was too busy so he got Charlie "The Man" Bronson instead, and we're all so very glad he did.
The film is about a woman named Jill (played by the lovely Claudia Cardinale) who has arrived in the town of Flagstone to find her husband and his children have been brutally murdered by a man named Cheyenne (Jason Robards). Problem is, Cheyenne didn't do it but was framed to make it seem like he killed them. In the meantime there is a stranger going around playing a harmonica (Bronson) searching for a man named Frank (Fonda). These four paths collide and we get one epic Italian Western.
First and foremost, I love Leone, he was a fantastic director and has slowly become my favorite after Kurosawa (and oh boy do I love me some Kurosawa). I've seen all of his films except for The Colossus of Rhodes and I've enjoyed them all to some degree or another. However, I wouldn't go so far to call The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly his best film. The main problem with The Man with No Name Trilogy is that they're all rather interchangeable and forgettable. I'm not complaining, I love these films but that is their biggest flaw. I can remember which ones have Lee Van Cleef (For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly), I remember which one has that bullet proof chest plate that was used in Back to the Future Part 3 (A Fistful of Dollars), I remember which one has Eli Wallach wise cracking (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly), and which one has the awesome watch (For a Few Dollars More).
However, I don't remember anything about the characters. I think Lee Van Cleef is an ex-preacher in For a Few Dollars More. The Man with No Name never goes through any deep changes. He remains the same guy throughout the trilogy. That's one of the beauties of Once Upon a Time in the West every character is so deep and so rich and have their own motivations and want to change for the better. There's the prostitute who wants to become a housewife, the gunslinger who wants to get out of killing people and become a business man, even Harmonica is a man of mystery throughout the movie until we get to the very end and discover he is a man pursuing vengeance.
Even the villains are deep with Mr. Morton wanting nothing more than to see the ocean again. Most of these things are not told through someone saying "Man, I would sure love to see that ocean again." No, it's told visually (how great directors do it) as Mr. Morton stares longingly at a painting of the ocean. Maybe he hasn't ever seen the ocean but would love to before his tuberculosis fully sets in (this is least likely the case since he knows what it sounds like). Frank obviously wants out of killing people but doesn't really know what to do. He despises Mr. Morton being locked away in his train all day but wouldn't mind making the money that he does. One can sort of pity Frank at some points.
That's enough about character development for the time being, let's talk about other things. Visually, the movie is so pleasing to the eye (it's a Leone flick, what does one expect?) and many of the shots make the movie feel so real, like the world within is so vast and full of potential. Also helping add to the feeling of the world is the gorgeous music composed by the great Ennio Morricone. Each character has a theme song and the main music just engulfs and sucks the viewer into the realm. However, the movie may look nice and sound nice but do these people really believe that they're in this world?
I honestly feel that most actresses are there to be eye candy and that's it. However, Claudia is a piece of eye candy who is also a great actress. The way she plays Jill is both sensual and heartfelt, which is good for a woman playing a hooker trying to go straight. Henry Fonda is freaking awesome. I stated earlier how you feel sorry for the guy at times but there are also the times you want to beat him in the face because he's such a snake-like bastard. Bronson is just a bad ass but at the end you feel bad for him when we find out the real reason why he's been after Frank. Jason Robards feels like he's playing a comic relief character who can suddenly become terrifying when he needs to be.
I could go into detail talking about the one liners but I won't bore you guys with that. I know many people feel like I hate every movie ever (if you look at my Netflix you'll see that this isn't true). However, I just wanted to take some time and talk deeply about a movie I absolutely love it's got romance, revenge, action, and comedy in one awesome package. Seriously, check out Once Upon a Time in the West.