When you think of iconic, and rightly legendary, westerns you’d be hard pressed to find a modern one which lives up to the prestige associated with such a group of films. No, instead these accolades belong to the classic 60s and 70s cinematic frontier adventures; The Magnificent Seven series, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and, of course, Once Upon a Time in the West. Director Sergio Leone – famous for his acclaimed spaghetti westerns – leads a cast of Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in what can only be described as one of the greatest westerns of all time.
The film begins, centring on the exploits of the rail baron, Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti), of Flagstone who wants to claim the sole body of water around the town, knowing that his new railroad will pass right by it. After an intimidation attempt on the owner of the land goes awry, a mysterious gunslinger (Bronson) arrives in town. The dispute over the land intensifies when a woman (Cardinale) arrives from New Orleans claiming to be the widow of the land’s real owner, while elsewhere the gunslinger – known by most of the town as Harmonica since he is frequently seen playing one – embarks on a vendetta against the man who killed the land, Sweetwater’s, original owner. As the separate factions converge on the land, the film tells the tale of betrayal, vengeance and redemption.
Once Upon a Time in the West – Thursday 8:00pm on Sky Cinema (Classics).