Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In The West => Topic started by: Robert Muller on June 21, 2013, 05:46:58 AM



Title: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Robert Muller on June 21, 2013, 05:46:58 AM
In a today´s Dutch newspaper, Dutch Movie Director Martin Koolhoven declared ¨ One Upon A Time In The West ¨ to be the best western ever.....I agree; not because I am Dutch.....but because it´s the simple truth....even though I know Sergio Leone got many or most of his ideas from a variety of American Western.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Robert Muller on June 21, 2013, 05:48:07 AM
Forgot to paste the website address

http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/5601/TV-Radio/article/detail/3462845/2013/06/21/De-beste-western-ooit.dhtml?utm_source=dailynewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: mike siegel on June 26, 2013, 02:12:43 AM
Strange. I'd say for an artist there is, there can't be no such thing as a 'BEST' piece of art - only personal favorites.
Nothing wrong if OUATITW is a personal numero uno...


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: noodles_leone on June 26, 2013, 07:40:01 AM
There is a part of objectivity when it comes to rating works of art. It doesn't mean that everybody will agree, but to a certain point, some people will be right to like/dislike a work of art and the other opinion will be wrong.

If someone asserts that OUATITW sucks, they're wrong.
If someone asserts that Joshua Tree rocks, they're wrong.
So there is objectivity somewhere.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 27, 2013, 12:10:23 PM
Why are we so worried about semantics? When someone says a movie is the best ever, he obviously means that is his opinion. Its his favorite..... No, i dont believe there is objectivity in art. But thats just my opinion


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: The Well on January 17, 2014, 05:35:39 PM
... Dutch Movie Director Martin Koolhoven declared ¨ One Upon A Time In The West ¨ to be the best western ever....


its a shame this topic's not being expanding. Not because of the Dutch movie director or anybody else, but because of us; don't we love this film?

To be frank I still cant work out what the hell intrinsic charge is captured inside of this story to make it so enticing; I am suspicion that there is something  hey, more than that, more than a western.

I am tempted to believe that this film is not in fact a western; sure it applies the tools of a western, but the inner message and its depiction could match any kind of a genre.

What makes this film specific is its pace; the story it tells, if expressed in this pace by any other genre would probably fail; this western aspect keeps it up.

All the fortune came together creating a synergy effect of sreenplay, cast, music and Sergio's directory.

When wondering what the hell is radiating thus enticing on this movie performance, it reminds me of an air interview of a guitarist who said that even possesing the same guitar and equipment of his idol he would not generate the same sound, because he believes that the final point is in the fingers that touch the strings...and this may be the case of Sergio in OUATITW - his inner one and only views of what he wanted to tell us.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: cigar joe on January 17, 2014, 05:59:54 PM
He captured the MYTH of the WEST.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Huey on January 18, 2014, 03:07:24 PM
Leone always insisted he was telling "fairy stories" and that is just another term for mythology. The whole western genre from The Great Train Robbery onwards has perpetuated that mythology. Leone made a start and got better at it, finally turning it into true cinematic art and the culmination of that process was this film.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: franksgrandson on February 05, 2014, 02:49:35 PM
Why do we say this is the best Western ever? more to the point why do many of us say this is the best film ever made without rival? on the face of it yes Leone captured the spirit the myth of the west and not only him as director but the music and the cast, Fonda put his all into this, he had such iconic lines to work with and the same for Bronson this is without doubt Bronson's finest movie no one else could be Harmonica and so it goes for the rest of the cast, I think everyone of note Jack Elm, Woody Strode all of then knew that this was the death of the western as everyone knew it and something magical just clicked.
But then there is the comfortable feeling of a well worn saddle, we all feel this as West name checks all the westerns from the past we love and adore and Leone put it into one movie for us! and lastly there is the personal thing to each of us, I don't know about you lot but so many things in the past? Now and what's to come in my life relate to parts of the movie.
And its this ability so frequent in lyric writers to pen songs that although personal to the writer also touch millions of others that Leone captured as well in the film.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Novecento on February 05, 2014, 08:24:38 PM
Because if it were a book, it would barely run a couple of pages in length. Yet as a film it runs close to 3 hours in length and not one minute is wasted.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Sackett on February 15, 2014, 03:53:17 PM
While watching Person of Interest, Reese and Fitch came out of a theater from seeing Rashomon.  Reese commented to Fitch that he would have preferred to see OUATITW because it had fewer subtitles.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Novecento on February 16, 2014, 09:02:14 AM
Nice reference!

It's funny cos Rashomon was actually styled after Silent films.


Title: Best Western ever!
Post by: Robert Muller on February 17, 2014, 12:25:36 PM
Taking this opportunity to correct my previous typing error under Subject, I would like to mention that I just finished watching on TCM/HD the Western ¨Firecreek ¨ with Henry Fonda and James Stewart. I noticed that both OUATITW and Firecreek were made in 1968; that Henry Fonda plays the villain and the resemblance with Frank, specifically with the bearded or unshaven Frank are striking. Question for me, who inspired who?


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 17, 2014, 01:02:27 PM
I dont know if anything was inspired by the other, but I believe Firecreek was made first


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on February 17, 2014, 02:47:21 PM
Firecreek was shot in 1967, which is the year it is normally associated with. And is a lousy film anyway.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: dave jenkins on February 17, 2014, 02:49:41 PM
In any event, Fonda brought his performance of Frank to OUATITW pre-tested.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Sackett on February 17, 2014, 06:04:33 PM
 As a child, I saw Firecreek on TV  before I saw OUATITW at the theater.  There is a world of difference in Fonda's characterizations.  In Firecreek he is not nearly as frightening as he is when playing Frank.  In Firecreek he is just a bad guy, in OUATITW, he is purely evil and one of the scariest characters I have ever seen.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Groggy on April 20, 2014, 08:18:01 AM
In Firecreek Fonda's barely a villain - he's a nice guy who tries to restrain his psychotic henchmen for most of the picture. Of course, Fonda's real pre-Frank villain experience was Fort Apache.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on April 20, 2014, 10:33:28 AM
No, he was a villain in Firecreek, but not a real bad one. While in Fort Apache he's no villain at all, but a human character who fails.

All in all Fonda has often played dubious characters, but never real baddies. The real shocking actor for OUTW would have been James Stewart. Also John Wayne.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: dave jenkins on April 20, 2014, 12:35:33 PM
No, he was  a villain in Firecreek, but not a real bad one. Whiel in Fort Apache he no villain at all, but a human character who fails.
In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself. No way is he a villain in FA. But he certainly is one in Firecreek.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: tucumcari bound on May 17, 2014, 08:14:11 AM
"Once Upon a Time in the West" is my favorite film of all-time.  O0


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 02:38:50 AM
In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself. No way is he a villain in FA. But he certainly is one in Firecreek.

I wouldn't say "no way he is a villain in FA." He may not be "the bad guy," but he definitely is playing against Wayne, the positive character. Yeah, Ford said it's good for the nation to have heroes to look up to, even though in the case of many "heroes," you know damn well they're not. Yeah, he goes to die with his men, he's not all bad, but he is sort of a partial villain


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 03:04:34 AM
Colonel Thursday is worse than a villain, he is a man with beliefs ...

Besides it doesn't make sense to describe Fonda's role with genre terms.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 05:56:13 AM
I'm just saying that I disagree with DJ's statement "No way is he a villain in FA." I don't think it's that extreme that there is nothing villainous about him. Sure, he may not be a villain on the level of eg. Frank in OUATITW, but he is still portrayed negatively. (As we're discussing in the other thread, about FA, Ford still believes the country should have heroes to look up to, so York talks up Thursday, even though he is undeserving, so that he'll be remembered as a hero. However, even though FA believes it's good to have Thursday remembered as a hero – print the legend – IMO that doesn't mean that the movie isn't portraying the character negatively. That's why I disagree with such an extreme statement "No way is he a villain in FA.)


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 07:18:13 AM
Leaving aside his getting an entire regiment wiped out through stupidity, Thursday's shown as a classist boar who bullies his subordinates and noncoms, ignores the advice of men who've actually fought and dealt with Indians, and generally views himself (without cause) as smarter and superior to the riff-raff in this backwater army post. Hundreds of men die purely to satisfy his personal ambition. What sympathetic qualities does he have to balance out these shortcomings? His affection for his daughter maybe.

Okay, I guess if you want to quibble we could substitute "antagonist" for "villain." I know semantics are big with certain posters.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 09:07:53 AM
.... not to mention that Thursday is at least partially based on Custer  ;D


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 01:14:17 PM

Okay, I guess if you want to quibble we could substitute "antagonist" for "villain." I know semantics are big with certain posters.

I think he's neither the film's villain nor the film's antagonist. He's the film's protagonist, but surely not a good one. FA is about Fonda, not about Wayne.

Unless other cavalry films with the usual arrogant and ignorant and inapt officer FA really cares for this guy, and gives a comparatively complex portrait of a man who fails. In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: dave jenkins on May 18, 2014, 01:34:10 PM
I think he's neither the film's villain nor the film's antagonist. He's the film's protagonist, but surely not a good one. FA is about Fonda, not about Wayne.

Unless other cavalry films with the usual arrogant and ignorant and inapt officer FA really cares for this guy, and gives a comparatively complex portrait of a man who fails. In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.
Excellent, excellent points. He is a tragic hero, deeply flawed, who, at the point of destruction, is able to gain new self knowledge, and in death, transcend himself. He is more like Oedipus than any character in American Westerns than I can think of.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 01:50:06 PM
In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.

His being an outsider has as more to do with an ingrained sense of superiority. Thursday knows best because he went to West Point and came from a wealthy Eastern family. Screw York and O'Rourke and the others who've actually served out West. In no way does Thursday strike me as a positive or sympathetic character.

Jenkins keep harping on the "redemptive death" theme which seems, at best, a minor mitigation of Thursday's sins. Is Richard III any less of a villain for dying in battle? More to our purposes, is Frank from OUATITW absolved of mass murder for manfully facing Harmonica in a duel? (As the movie's first-billed character you could argue he's as much protagonist as Jill.) That's a very slender reed on which to base an argument


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 02:19:14 PM
Shortly before his death he had learned a lot and if he had survived at the and, he would have become a better officer, but still not a real good one. Cause he would still never have been able to really communicate with his subordinates, to really understand them. He would still have trouble to be a human being who is able to love and to give love.
But he takes the responsibility for his actions, which means to die, and gets by that at least his dignity back. Which then is not unimportant for Wayne's decision to lie about the real events. And then the truth is of course not always the best solution. It can be as destructive as a lie.
I would not reduce this lie at the end to a simple deceit. It also can be a responsible act not to tell the truth. But it surely is an ambiguous ending.

While I think there isn't any ambiguity in the lie in Liberty Valance. That's a completely positive act. Nothing really wrong about it


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 18, 2014, 02:31:02 PM
His being an outsider has as more to do with an ingrained sense of superiority. Thursday knows best because he went to West Point and came from a wealthy Eastern family. Screw York and O'Rourke and the others who've actually served out West. In no way does Thursday strike me as a positive or sympathetic character.



My view on Thursday does not turn him in a positive character, it only makes him more understandable. Apart from his inability to deal with other people, and to compensate his lack of love and his general unhappiness with strict rules and regulations, his real flaw is that he is also a racist. Which makes him underestimate the Indians. This all leads to the catastrophe (from the white man's point of view).

Being a complex character and an understandable one I care more for his death than if he were only a simple villain. This makes the ending work for me on several levels.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: dave jenkins on May 18, 2014, 03:31:06 PM
Jenkins keep harping on the "redemptive death" theme which seems, at best, a minor mitigation of Thursday's sins. Is Richard III any less of a villain for dying in battle? More to our purposes, is Frank from OUATITW absolved of mass murder for manfully facing Harmonica in a duel? (As the movie's first-billed character you could argue he's as much protagonist as Jill.) That's a very slender reed on which to base an argument
I was careful, I think, not to use a term like "redemptive" anything, because what I'm talking about is a pre-Christian concept. Likewise, the term "sins" isn't helpful. And bringing Richard III or Frank from OUATITW in only causes confusion by needlessly mixing categories.

I was talking about tragedy, and the analog I pointed to was Oedipus. Here is what Wikipedia (lightly edited) has to say on the subject:
Quote
Aristotle wrote in his work Poetics that tragedy is characterized by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (Peripeteia). Aristotle's definition can include a change of fortune from bad to good as in the Eumenides, but he says that the change from good to bad as in Oedipus Rex is preferable because this induces pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis (emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.

According to Aristotle, "the structure of the best tragedy should not be simple but complex and one that represents incidents arousing fear and pity—for that is peculiar to this form of art." This reversal of fortune must be caused by the tragic hero's hamartia, which is often mistranslated as a character flaw, but is more correctly translated as a mistake (since the original Greek etymology traces back to hamartanein, a sporting term that refers to an archer or spear-thrower missing his target). According to Aristotle, "The change to bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or flaw, but a mistake of some kind." The reversal is the inevitable but unforeseen result of some action taken by the hero. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition (anagnorisis--"knowing again" or "knowing back" or "knowing throughout") about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods.
This, I submit, is pretty much what happens to Fonda's character in FA. It's true that his "mistake" gets a lot of people killed. But leaders in war get people killed even when they successfully execute well-thought-out plans and win the day. In tragedy, the deaths of the many are just background. At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, perhaps hundreds in Thebes have died because of a terrible plague. Oedipus, as king, begins a search to determine the cause of the plague. His investigation reveals that he himself is the cause. When he learns this, he takes responsibility--he judges himself and immediately executes sentence. The fear and pity that Oedipus arouses at that moment is what makes him great. To my way of thinking, a bit of that tragic stature adheres to Thursday at the end of FA.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 05:18:34 PM
Hmm, I don't think I hallucinated this post:

In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself.

Textually there's not much to suggest Thursday is tragic, except for those who die through his stupidity. He has sympathetic or pitiable traits, I'll agree with you and Stanton on that level. But most tragic heroes, even Oedipus, have some qualities to mitigate their flaws - doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, idealism later betrayed or in the example you choose, inexorability of fate.

Thursday has nothing but self-advancement driving him, not even an abstraction like patriotism. He doesn't suddenly change from good to bad through decision or circumstance. He's a jerk from the word go, implied through his interactions with Collingwood and O'Rourke to have been one before coming west, and doesn't really advance beyond that (if anything he grows more entrenched in his jerkishness). Admitting his mistake in time to die nobly is very small consolation. Certainly you can't claim him the victim of "fate," unless you're applying a Marxian view of history's inevitability.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: Groggy on May 18, 2014, 05:37:50 PM
Either way, this is strange. We've been discussing Fort Apache in a OUTATIW thread and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in a Fort Apache thread. Should we discuss OUATITW in the Liberty Valance thread to bring things full circle? :D


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 10:01:06 PM
and even if his causing the death of his own men through his arrogance doesn't make him a bad guy, what about his being dishonest with the Indians? In the view of this movie, Indians aren't evil (Wayne, the positive character, is respectful of Indians; the character considered most evil in this movie is the Indian agent who has mistreated them.) So, in the view of this movie, Indians are decent people who deserve to be treated as such, and Thursday treats them as dogs. That makes him a negative character. Yes, by the end, he probably regrets having brought his men on this suicidal charge. But there is nothing to suggest that he regrets his actions toward the Indians. He'd love to take back the deaths of his own men, but he doesn't give a damn about having deceived the Indians and forced them into battle. Therefore, he is indeed a negative character - not a flawed hero, but a negative character who isn't purely evil but is clearly portrayed negatively IMO.


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 18, 2014, 10:16:54 PM
Either way, this is strange. We've been discussing Fort Apache in a OUTATIW thread and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in a Fort Apache thread. Should we discuss OUATITW in the Liberty Valance thread to bring things full circle? :D

yeah  ;D

I provided links in the threads of FA and TMWSLV to the discussion in the other threads, so that anyone reading those threads will be aware that there is further discussion about that movie in the other threads


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 25, 2014, 03:41:28 AM


I was talking about tragedy, and the analog I pointed to was Oedipus. Here is what Wikipedia (lightly edited) has to say on the subject:This, I submit, is pretty much what happens to Fonda's character in FA. It's true that his "mistake" gets a lot of people killed. But leaders in war get people killed even when they successfully execute well-thought-out plans and win the day. In tragedy, the deaths of the many are just background. At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, perhaps hundreds in Thebes have died because of a terrible plague. Oedipus, as king, begins a search to determine the cause of the plague. His investigation reveals that he himself is the cause. When he learns this, he takes responsibility--he judges himself and immediately executes sentence. The fear and pity that Oedipus arouses at that moment is what makes him great. To my way of thinking, a bit of that tragic stature adheres to Thursday at the end of FA.

Ain't Oedipus usually this slash Pa / knoodle-noodle Ma thing?


Title: Re: Best Westeern ever!
Post by: stanton on May 25, 2014, 03:45:17 AM
and even if his causing the death of his own men through his arrogance doesn't make him a bad guy, what about his being dishonest with the Indians? In the view of this movie, Indians aren't evil (Wayne, the positive character, is respectful of Indians; the character considered most evil in this movie is the Indian agent who has mistreated them.) So, in the view of this movie, Indians are decent people who deserve to be treated as such, and Thursday treats them as dogs. That makes him a negative character. Yes, by the end, he probably regrets having brought his men on this suicidal charge. But there is nothing to suggest that he regrets his actions toward the Indians. He'd love to take back the deaths of his own men, but he doesn't give a damn about having deceived the Indians and forced them into battle. Therefore, he is indeed a negative character - not a flawed hero, but a negative character who isn't purely evil but is clearly portrayed negatively IMO.


But nobody said that he isn't a negative character. Being the real protagonist of the film does not make him a hero (which he isn't by any stretch of imagination), does not mean he must be positive.


Title: Re: Best Western ever!
Post by: mike siegel on June 20, 2014, 03:33:01 PM
Taking this opportunity to correct my previous typing error under Subject, I would like to mention that I just finished watching on TCM/HD the Western ¨Firecreek ¨ with Henry Fonda and James Stewart. I noticed that both OUATITW and Firecreek were made in 1968; that Henry Fonda plays the villain and the resemblance with Frank, specifically with the bearded or unshaven Frank are striking. Question for me, who inspired who?

Fonda appeared in Italy based on his bad guy in FIRECREEK. Unshaved with dark lenses covering his blue eyes. That was Hollywood's idea of turning Mr. America into a villain. We know how Leone reacted to it :)
And sure, Firecreek is an embarassing film, a disgrace really considering the fact that Fonda & his best friend Stewart co-starred for the very first time. You can't give a Disney Director such a film. Their 2nd film under the direction by Gene Kelly was much better.


Title: Re: Best Western ever!
Post by: stanton on June 20, 2014, 03:35:58 PM
Their 2nd film under the direction by Gene Kelly was much better.

Better, yes, but not that great either.