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Quick-Thoughts: Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Wouldn’t it be just outright incredible if more action movies today like the 1968 western classic Once Upon a Time in the West were articulated with the same amount of patiently protracted build-up? It’s already thrilling enough to witness a film some, including myself, may deem “perfectly directed,” thanks to the multi-hit wonder Sergio Leone, but imagine if that aesthetic was still kept spry. This entire movie is the expert’s definition of “intense” and “gripping.” It goes to show you that it never took colossal budgets and constant action spectacles to make a winning western paradigm, all you needed was a simple story and the most threatening executioner in all the Italian film industry. See? Not so difficult, huh?

It does seem, although, that an awful lot was chopped out in this theatrical/restored cut I viewed. Especially in the second act, the shorter scenes seem so minimally unsystematic compared to the sweeping events in the first and third act. The character of Jill McBain additionally appears inadvertently underutilized. I’ll have to check out the 3-hour director’s cut when I get the chance to because if it does supposedly mend these issues, this might just be a well-nigh flawless movie. 

Verdict: A-

“Once Upon a Time in the West” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, and Netflix.

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