Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sight & Sound Challenge: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Film: Once Upon a Time in the West (166/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: First Time

Wow. Wow wow wow. This film completely blew me away. I came into it thinking I'd find it full of testosterone and not particularly memorable but reasonably entertaining (my general view on most non-John Ford westerns). But from that opening scene, I was completely hooked. Three men wait. Who are they waiting for? I had no idea, but I found myself holding my breath anyway. And with that amazing harmonica theme (seriously, a character plays his own theme song and it's AWESOME), the film pulled me in and didn't let me go. With memorable performances by Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Henry Fonda (eeevil!), and Claudia Cardinale, this is a film that will stay with me for a long long time. I think this is my new favorite western.  And the music?! It's incredible. Incredible music, incredible cinematography, incredible storytelling... I absolutely loved this. 

But let me quickly address something here, and that is the treatment of Claudia Cardinale's character. To quote the film: "You know what? If I was you, I'd go down there and give those boys a drink. Can't imagine how happy it makes a man to see a woman like you, just to look at her. And if one of them should, uh, pat your behind, just make believe it's nothing. They earned it." Sigh. Women have been told shit like that since the beginning of time. But I don't really expect morality and the civil treatment of women in a film where men go around shooting each other. And it's a minor nitpick in what is otherwise a great film. I can't recommend this enough. 

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