Once Upon a Time in the West / C’era una volta il West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

(scherpschutter) #521

Personally I never thought about Harmonica as a ghost. The whole idea of ghosts belongs, imo, to the world of horror movies (or religious movies if you wish), and Once upon doesn’t feel like a horror movie. Some events like the slaughter of the McBain family or the hanging of the brother might be horrible, but that’s not the same thing. Django the Bastard does, that is a horror movie, and that’s why I can accept that particular Django to be a ghost.

I only realized Harmonica could be interpreted as a ghost when I read about it (I don’t remember when or where exactly, but I had seen the movie at least half a dozen times). I also read that some think that Leone played with the idea to turn him into a ghost, but finally rejected it. For me he’s not a ghost, but - very much like Colonel Mortimer - a man who is so obsessed by revenge, who’s mind is so preoccupied with death, that he no longer acts like a normal human being.

(Stanton) #522

I also never spent the slightest thought on Harmonica being a ghost, before I read that some people do.

(ENNIOO) #523

Harmonica has never been a ghost in my mind aswell, just a man with a score to settle.


Makes the most sense to me.

Speaking of horror films what do you think of Gary Hamilton in ‘and God said to Cain’? Some seem to think he’s a ghost, and the way he weaves in and out of the frames, the crows and the tornado certainly make it seem plausible but I’ve never liked the idea. If he was why did he spend ten years in prison?

(scherpschutter) #525

I don’t think he is a ghost, or supposed to be one, but the film has definitely horror influences. The director was schooled in the horror genre, if i’m not mistaken.

(Novecento) #526

His initial appearance reminds me a little of Millie Perkin’s appearance at the beginning of Monte Hellman’s “The Shooting” signifying that something vaguely ominous is about to happen…

(Sebastian) #527

Found this visualization of the differences on YouTube

(Ron Piro) #528

Henry Fonda was brilliant as a villain.


I’ve never seen that, is it worth tracking down?

(Sebastian) #530

Here’s John Landis on OUATITW


I just rewatched this… A film I could see once every six months and never seems to get old. There’s magic to it. A sad, epic tale, with some of the best acting to ever appear in any film. After the greatest opening scene in cinema history, We learn that Charles Bronson ( harmonica) is after a man named Frank. The follow up scene is just as important, as we witness the murder of Jill Mcbain’s (Claudia Cardinale) family. Everyone knows the story so I wont get too detailed, but I think I enjoyed last night even more then i did when I saw it the last time.

(Phil H) #532

Saw this again at the Regent St cinema in London last night. Stating the obvious I know but this really is a film which benefits from a big screen and an appreciative audience. A very good turn out for it too which was nice to see in a time when everyone can see whatever they like at home. Terrific night out and, of course, a great film.

As an aside, for anyone in London I’d really urge you to get down to the Regent Street cinema. A beautiful historic cinema and lovingly restored. Holds claim to be the very first cinema in the UK as it was the host for the Lumiere Brothers’ demonstration of their cinematographe machine in February 1896.

(Toscano) #533

Phil H…
I truly envy you! What a magnificent night it must have been…glad that you enjoyed it!

I’ve only seen ‘OUATITW’ on the big screen once; and that was back in May, 2000, when I attended the ‘Sergio Leone’ event at the NFT, in London.
Blimmin’ heck, sixteen years ago…where does the time go?
Perhaps you also attended the evening? It started off with Sir Christopher Frayling talking to Alex Cox, about the Leone movies.
I loved every second…met Sir Christopher, who autographed his latest book about Leone; and also met Alex Cox…and told him how much I missed his presentations of ‘Moviedrome’!
By the way…what is the latest regarding Alex Cox’s latest…?

(Phil H) #534

I was overseas in 2000 but I did go to the screening of this a few years back in Leicester Square which Chris Frayling introduced too. Also a very good event.

As for Alex Cox’s latest project, this was the most recent update I received:

"Right now I’m effects building in Oregon and Merritt is recording the
Interviewer Voice in Los Angeles. Tippett Studio in the Berkeley Flats
is working apace to have our four big VFX shots finished by the end of
October. John has completed the colour grade — we’ll tweak it again once
the titles and gunshots are all in there. And the winning poster design,
by a vast majority, was the Ace of Spades. We aim to mix, in Tucson,
with Mike Mulchy, in three weeks’ time."

Apparently they plan to have a work in progress screening in Tucson next week so shouldn’t ber too long before it’s released.

(Toscano) #535

Phil H.

Thanks, big fella!

Great to hear from you… let’s hope that Alex Cox bring off what we all hope will be a combo of Japanese/ Spaghetti mayhem!

If you hear anything else, please keep us all updated…

(SourNote2014) #536

It did feel like there were scenes cut out of it that would have made the narrative more coherent.

(SourNote2014) #537

I don’t know if I’ve said this already, but it has grown on me recently. It’s not in my top five favourite films, but it has some charm to it.

(Bad Lieutenant) #538


Probably going. Never watched it at cinema.

(Phil H) #539

Worth doing mate. Definitely a film which benefits from a cinema viewing.


Never noticed before, but there’s a little silver number badge/plate attached to Jack Elam’s bench about 5 minutes into Once Upon A Time In The West. Though the number is mostly rubbed off, it looks a little out of place, from the 1950s or 1960s perhaps.

Once you see it you’ll never unsee it…