In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Leoni does such an expert job of exploding the rules of the genre, while also faithfully adhering to them, that it feels like a classic western, and a whole new take on classic westerns at the same time.”
“Tell me, was it necessary that you kill all of them? I only told you to scare them.”
Possibly the single most important and influential name when it comes it westerns, is director John Ford. From the silent era, through to well into the 50s, his movies defined what westerns still look and feel like to this day. But post Ford, there were a couple of other blokes who played a big role in taking what Ford started, and pushed it to new limits of violence, grit and an almost nihilism. Sam Pekinpah deserves some of the credit for his work on The Wild Bunch, but there’s another man who almost rivals John Ford for the stamp he left on the genre, Sergio Leoni. And after he made westerns huge again with the Clint Eastwood starring Dollars trilogy, he took it to even more extreme lengths with Once Upon a Time in the West.
Three dirt covered scum bags wait at a train station with guns drawn. When the locomotive finally arrives, only one man disembarks, Charles Bronson as Harmonica. After a few jaw clenched words, he quickly dispatches the three gunmen. Meanwhile, homesteader Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) prepares for the arrival of his new wife. But before she gets there, McBain and his entire family are gunned down by the black hatted Frank (Henry Fonda). It turns out, the McBain property has access to the only water in the region. Water needed by the company building a railroad through the area. So instead of paying for the water, the railroad sent Frank to scare the McBains away. Only Frank got a little carried away. (more…)