copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

This movie has some of the best atmosphere. The sets are wonderful, with so much detail. There are panning shots of rooms that clearly show the whole room as an actual location and absolutely filled with stuff. The towns look real and lively. The camera pans are used to a great effect. This film goes far to build up its tension and atmosphere. It would not be too much to say that it is its most distinguishing feature.

Moreover, the cinematography is smart, like there is a scene of a person drinking from a bottle, thereby raising his hands and showing that they are in handcuffs. That is smart writing right there.

Ennio Morricone is responsible for the music, as with most Sergio Leone's Westerns. He brings a good variety of noticeable tunes. There are emotional strings mixed with a choir or a female solo, and of course the main star is the iconic dramatic harmonica theme of the main protagonist that gets mixed with a menacing guitar. Music in this movie is definitely not part of the background.

One of the most interesting actors is Jason Robards (I had to check twice it wasn't "Roberts") as a gang leader. His high acting ability is mixed with a warm charisma. The main villain played by Henry Fonda is well acted but is a little plain. The protagonist is covered with the spaghetti part of the spaghetti western. His signature harmonica thing is cool but then he plays that same tune in situations that do not call for it. And of course he talks with the rim of his face covering his eyes. And of course he is mysterious and shoots perfectly.

The main lady role is played by an Italian Claudia Cardinale's. You can read a lot off of her subtle facial expression changes. Unfortunately, this lady is rather clearly dubbed at times.

There are also a few other characters who do not appear on screen for long but are nonetheless memorable.

The dialogue is good. There is not much of it, but it is good and to the point.

This Sergio Leone's film was a memorable one, with many interesting characters, unique musical score and good tension.

Once Upon a Time in the West