Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In The West => Topic started by: SeanSeanSean on February 05, 2005, 04:32:18 PM



Title: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: SeanSeanSean on February 05, 2005, 04:32:18 PM
OUATITW is among my top 10 films, since I first saw it in 1969.
But to this day, I am bothered by the continuity in the middle of the film. You know the scenes: Jill and Frank with the miniature station in hand, then Frank in the cave with Morton (what's that about?), then back in bed with Frank. The DVD suggests Leone missed that one. I find it hard to believe.
Anyone have an idea on this one?


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Cusser on February 05, 2005, 07:50:43 PM
This has been addressed here before.  Look closely, the scene with Frank and Jill is at the cliffs (cave), the wall is stone.  The McBain house is wood.  At that time at the McBain house Cheyenne's men were starting to build the station, and Frank and Jill weren't inside the Mcbain house.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: grandpa_chum on February 06, 2005, 12:38:49 PM
cusser is right... although some people, upon explaination still have a problem with it... i really don't get what the problem is... Frank goes to "take care of the woman himself" and tells morton to meet him at the navajo cliffs... at the cliffs morton tells frank there will be no more useless killings and that he knows the girl is there... frank tells him if he wants to pay for the land he will take care of it... intercut with harmonica and cheyenne building the town... then to frank and jill in bed obviously at the cliffs... the next scene is at the auction... THERE IS NO CONTINUITY PROBLEM!


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: SeanSeanSean on February 07, 2005, 06:26:20 PM
You are right. Frank and Jill are not at the house for the bed scene. Harmonica and Cheyenne are.
Thanx for setting this straight for me.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: stamper on December 02, 2007, 05:48:13 PM
So what is this bit in the commentary where Alex Cox goes nut over the continuity, suggesting they lost it ?

I think he drank too many pints before opening up.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Groggy on December 02, 2007, 06:05:27 PM
This is stupid, and it's one of those things that anyone paying even the slightest attention to the film should be able to pick up on - especially a goon like Alex Cox who claims to be a huge fan. ::)


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: tucumcari bound on December 04, 2007, 10:45:53 AM
This is stupid, and it's one of those things that anyone paying even the slightest attention to the film should be able to pick up on - especially a goon like Alex Cox who claims to be a huge fan. ::)

I agree with Groggy. There is no continuity era's whatsoever in OUATITW. Sure, some aspects of the film are not shown on screen, such as the train massacre resulting in Cheyenne getting shot. We did not see what happened, but we basically know. That's what makes the film even greater than it is. Leone leaves some things up for interpretation, and that's what makes talking about this film so fun.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Bill Carson on December 19, 2007, 02:38:57 AM
cusser is right... although some people, upon explaination still have a problem with it... i really don't get what the problem is... Frank goes to "take care of the woman himself" and tells morton to meet him at the navajo cliffs... at the cliffs morton tells frank there will be no more useless killings and that he knows the girl is there... frank tells him if he wants to pay for the land he will take care of it... intercut with harmonica and cheyenne building the town... then to frank and jill in bed obviously at the cliffs... the next scene is at the auction... THERE IS NO CONTINUITY PROBLEM!

Good explanation, buddy.

I agree with Groggy. There is no continuity era's whatsoever in OUATITW. Sure, some aspects of the film are not shown on screen, such as the train massacre resulting in Cheyenne getting shot. We did not see what happened, but we basically know. That's what makes the film even greater than it is. Leone leaves some things up for interpretation, and that's what makes talking about this film so fun.

If he show us that scene ("train massacre" and Cheyenne getting shot), than the ending wouldn`t be so great and powerfull (and, may I say - unholywoodish) as it is, expecially for the first watching.
I agree with you my friend - "that's what makes talking about this film so fun".


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: dave jenkins on December 19, 2007, 03:10:48 PM
There is no continuity problem with the Navajo Cliffs scene/scenes. However, SL was unwise not to use establishing shots when transitioning between some scenes. For example, when going from Sweetwater to Frank and Jill in bed, it's easy to mistake where they are. The only bed we've seen before is the one at Sweetwater, and a bed in a cave is a rather unusual idea, so I'm sure most first-time viewers jump to the conclusion that what they're seeing is Frank and Jill in bed in Sweetwater, sometime after Harmonica and Cheyenne have left. Yes, if you carefully inspect the frame you can see that they are in a cave and that the bed is not the Sweetwater bed but one that hangs from the ceiling. But who's gonna notice that the first time through? Watching the film repeatedly, or studying it as we do on this board frame by frame, the truth of the matter becomes clear; but films, especially those of a certain vintage, were ideally designed to be enjoyed by one-time viewers. Audiences, under such a regime, shouldn't have had to see a film more than once to grasp simple plot points. It has always been the job of the director to lead viewers through the story, and allowing confusion to enter the minds of audience members is a failing, one that would have mortified SL to commit (had he realized he was guilty of it). Yes, sometimes filmmakers use deliberate ambiguity, but not for basic matters of setting (location and time). Yes, sometimes filmmakers use quick transitions to temporarily disorient the viewer, but the operative word here is "temporarily." The filmmaker has to quickly re-establish the setting or risk losing the audience. SL did not intend for his audience to be confused when he moved the action from Sweetwater to the Navajo Cliffs, but for some, that is in fact what has occurred. Alex Cox has no excuse, but one-time viewers of the film are not served well (in this instance) by Leone. So, there is no continuity problem: only an incredible simulation of one.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Cusser on December 19, 2007, 03:30:19 PM
Sergio likely wanted the "surprise" factor.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: dave jenkins on December 19, 2007, 03:59:55 PM
Yes, but without the confusion.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Groggy on December 19, 2007, 04:42:45 PM
Dave, you're a fool. There isn't any good reason to assume the bed is at Sweetwater unless you're stupid or aren't paying attention. If you pay any attention to the dialogue in the scene between Frank and Morton you'll hear that latter saying "I know that woman is here." Frank kidnaps Jill from her home, Cheyenne and Harmonica are hanging around building stuff and watching every move. Why in the hell would Frank bring Jill back there for sex? Because he likes to live dangerously? ::)


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Atlas2112 on December 19, 2007, 07:09:43 PM
yeah, and it seems pretty obvious that the bed was hanging from the cieling which, at least i thought, gave the impression that they were in some sort of dungeon (or in this case it was a cave)


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: moviesceleton on December 20, 2007, 07:34:34 AM
Dave, you're a fool. There isn't any good reason to assume the bed is at Sweetwater unless you're stupid or aren't paying attention. If you pay any attention to the dialogue in the scene between Frank and Morton you'll hear that latter saying "I know that woman is here." Frank kidnaps Jill from her home, Cheyenne and Harmonica are hanging around building stuff and watching every move. Why in the hell would Frank bring Jill back there for sex? Because he likes to live dangerously? ::)
Then I'm a fool too. It took me multiple viewings before I noticed the sex scene took place in the cave. I'm completely with Dave here.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: dave jenkins on December 20, 2007, 01:00:46 PM
Why in the hell would Frank bring Jill back there for sex? Because he likes to live dangerously? ::)
Because it's got a bed. Until you realize that they are in the cave, there's no reason to assume the cave has a bed. You see Frank and Jill in a clinch, the camera turns to reveal they are in bed, but the shot is so tight you can't see the background. Before the background reveal the viewer's mind immediately has to make sense of the situation, so the conclusion that many must come to (initially, until further information dispels the notion) is that they are at Sweetwater, the only place that we know has a bed.

I grant, Groggy, that you are a very astute observer, and were able to suss out the matter correctly the first time through, but I don't think every viewer can do it. I frankly don't remember how it appeared to me the first time, but I was later fuzzy enough on the issue to be mis-led by Cox. Of course the truth is obvious . . . once you have the time and wherewithal to study the matter carefully. The point is, many viewers don't get but one, fleeting chance, and it's not sufficient for them.

[Grogs, what's with the personal attacks and the immoderate language? Where I come from, calling someone a fool is pretty strong stuff. Why can't we keep things on this board civil?]


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Groggy on December 20, 2007, 04:10:55 PM
Well Jenkins, I hope you didn't seriously take offense, inasmuch as I'm using roughly the same tone as we've always had between you. 


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: geoman-1 on December 20, 2007, 04:20:29 PM
Dave, you're a fool. There isn't any good reason to assume the bed is at Sweetwater unless you're stupid or aren't paying attention.
Well Groggy, count me as one of the stupid people. I actually have watched this film many times but
I could not figure out this continuity issue, until now that is. :-[


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: dave jenkins on December 21, 2007, 07:27:41 PM
moviesceleton and geoman-1 are making my point . . .

I'm sure SL didn't want his audiences confused (only disoriented temporarily). If he'd known the amount of confusion this part of the film would continually cause, he would have cut it differently. And if he were with us today and talking he'd have to admit he made a mistake. Although he was an artist, he was not an artsy-fartsy artist: his is a cinema directed at the largest possible audience.

[OK, Groggy, I get you, I won't sweat your PMS-style bitching anymore. . .]


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: moviesceleton on December 22, 2007, 02:32:29 AM
moviesceleton and geoman-1 are making my point . . .

I'm sure SL didn't want his audiences confused (only disoriented temporarily). If he'd known the amount of confusion this part of the film would continually cause, he would have cut it differently. And if he were with us today and talking he'd have to admit he made a mistake.
I don't believe he would. It would be the editor's fault.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Jill on December 22, 2007, 03:06:11 AM
It's not the same bed as the one with the black lace curtain...
I think they are in the cave. They cannot be in Sweetwater, Cheyene and Harmonica are talking about her "return", so she's not there.


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: geoman-1 on December 22, 2007, 08:07:57 AM
Glad to see there is no love lost between Dave and the Grogster. :-*


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Groggy on December 22, 2007, 05:31:43 PM
Glad to see there is no love lost between Dave and the Grogster. :-*

Yeah, me and Dave are bestest buddies.  ;)


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Tuco the ugly on December 22, 2007, 05:39:06 PM
Yeah, me and Dave are bestest buddies.  ;)

Really?! I'm sure no-one noticed.  ::)


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: dave jenkins on December 23, 2007, 01:37:23 PM
Hey, it's Christmas. Of course Grogs and me are buds. I love you all [hey, keep the grog coming, my mug is getting low....]


Title: Re: Out of sequence scenes
Post by: Usaviator on July 26, 2017, 06:15:52 AM
I'm really glad this subject was addressed. I missed the continuity of these sequences as well.  It seems like most people, including me, don't pick up on the fact that Frank takes Jill back to the cave by that shot. I know it is talked about between Frank and Morton, but it's a very small cue.  And yes, if you are really paying attention, you can figure it out, but I think this movie can be a lot to chew on the first time around.  I saw it for the first time all at once, and then broken up a bit the 2nd and 3rd times.  I can't wait to watch it in full for a 4th time, especially after perusing through this board for a while.  Even though I enjoyed the film immensely the first few times around, a lot more has clicked into place since the last viewing.