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Messages - rex

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A Fistful of Dollars / Re: The poncho
« on: May 15, 2007, 09:07:47 AM »
Interesting string of posts -- just thought I'd add my two cents. The poncho (and the cigar and the stubble beard) made a huge impression back in the 60's when the film(s) came out. I'm not sure if it's literally true that we'd never seen anything like that before -- but it felt like it. Cowboys (even that word suddenly became an anachronism!) were much more like John Wayne in "McClintock" or Roy Rogers on Saturday morning TV. Even Eastwood (a known TV star) was clean-shaven and relatively well-dressed in "Rawhide." Suddenly this new image of the West popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, followed quickly by sequels. It was the 60's; everything was changing. The British invasion of pop music; the James Bond franchise; a growing frankness in plot, theme and language in movies. Change was the order of the day -- and Leone's movies caught that wave and fit right in, even furthering it. A very dynamic era. The poncho was certainly part of Leone's vision, and his very successful effort to upset classic Western movie conceptions.

One other minor note -- it's interesting to watch "Yojimbo" and see Mifune's mannerisms (his hands hidden in his loose ronin clothes, the way he rubs his chin. A lot of that is echoed quite specifically in Eastwood's performance. The poncho may very well have been a way to capture some of that samurai feel using American West gear.

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Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Character Motivations in OUATITW
« on: October 24, 2005, 01:21:13 PM »
Interesting comments from everyone.

While I think Cheyenne falling in love with Jill can be a great story, I also wonder about if it is at all possible for people like Cheyenne (and Harmonica, as well as Frank, for that matter) to fall deeply in love with anyone... They all "have something to do with death," revenge, killing... So do these men have the capacity to love?

********************************

Hex, I disagree with Cheyenne's logic because I look at the issue from a woman's perspective. I mean, I wouldn't want those men (or any man, unless he and I had a romantic relationship) to do that to me just because they had done some hard work. Would you?



I'm not so sure that Cheyenne is so much like Frank and Harmonica. He's tough and very capable of killing, but he seems softer to me. He kills (off-screen) his escort at the cantina, but he only teases the guy who threatens to pull out his pistol and then Harmonica. He could have shot both of them, but doesn't. He kills several of Morton and Frank's men while rescuing Harmonica, but can't bring himself to shoot Morton, even though he knows he should. Pity stops him. He can't shoot a cripple (or a Catholic priest, or a child), a weakness that finally costs him his life. Did he make the same mistake twice? "I didn't count on that half-man from the train." Sounds as if the cripple surprised him, got the drop on him. After Jill serves him coffee the first time, he hangs around -- maybe to protect her? Can't be sure, but if Harmonica hadn't shot those two men of Frank's, Cheyenne was going to. I think Cheyenne is sort of a two-gun softie -- not much like Frank and Harmonica at all. And at the end, gut-shot and dying, he rides back to Sweetwater, not to kill Frank (he sees Frank talking to Harmonica out by the gate and takes no action), but to protect Jill in case Frank wins the showdown.

And the point about Cheyenne's "pat on the behind" reference is well-taken, with two provisos: one, the film was released in 1968, in a time when the latest incarnation of the women's movement was just starting to gain momentum. The line was "cuter" then, less offensive to audiences at that time. Two, the line was written for a rough, tough cowboy kind of character. He wouldn't be overly sensitive to the modern woman's point-of-view. I think Leone knows this -- when Cheyenne does pat Jill, she looks at him in shock and maybe even offence. But I think the purpose of the line, of the joke, of the whole set-up, is just so that the dying Cheyenne can deliver his heart-breaking (to me, at least) farewell to a woman that he loves, and that he knows does not love him. "Make believe it's nothing." He's not talking about the pat on the butt in that moment.

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Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Character Motivations in OUATITW
« on: October 20, 2005, 09:07:40 AM »
One other fan's answers to your questions (I like most of the other answers -- I just want to get in on the fun!)

1. Frank just wants to take care of the annoyance of Harmonica's appointment -- like swatting a fly. He sends three trusted men to eliminate a small obstacle. His mistake...

2. Cheyenne doesn't know Harmonica very well, but they've had their confrontation at the cantina, where Harmonica mystified Cheyenne and didn't back down to him, but also didn't directly challenge him. Then, Cheyenne met Jill at Sweetwater and started to fall in love with her and subsequently watched as Harmonica saved her life. He follows them into town to see what is going on. He starts to realize that this Harmonica fellow is embroiled in whatever is going on (as is Cheyenne -- due to being framed for the McBain murders). He figures he better help Harmonica out.

3. Frank rapes her, essentially telling her that he will kill her if she doesn't give up the property. Yeah, she makes the sex good for him (she is good at her previous job), but she is fighting for her life in that scene. Frank can kill her and get the land, or he can do what he's doing and scare the land out of her. She is so good in the sack, basically, that she charms him into paying her $500 for the land (remember that Morton has chided him for not being a good businessman). But in order to make the payment really good and legal, she puts the land up for auction (at Frank's behest) so even the sheriff witnesses the transfer. And Frank's men run the auction, controlling the bidding. No one else can bid. The land will certainly sell to one of Frank's men for $500. Nice plan, except...

4. Harmonica looks in the window and sees what is going on and he and Cheyenne come up with a quick way to get $5000 dollars. They turn Cheyenne in. It's not so much to convince Jill to stay as it is to right the wrong of her land being stolen from her and to stick it to Frank.

5. It is risky. But Harmonica wants to bedevil Frank, and Cheyenne is in love with Jill, and they both want to get Frank off her back. And Cheyenne has escaped from custody before, and he does expect to be thrown into the local jail. So they take the shot that they have available to them.

6. And Harmonica does give the land back to Jill. I can't remember her line exactly, but in the saloon, after the auction, when Jill and Harmonica have a conversation where she mentions a tub of hot water, she starts the conversation with some line about the auction and Harmonica replies, almost surprised, "Oh that? I don't invest in land." She gets the land and the $5000. Neither Harmonica nor Cheyenne care about that at all.

I like your last paragraph and I think that is a real fine way to approach all of Leone's westerns, but actually, this section of OUATITW doesn't do too badly logic-wise. Logic isn't necessarily the top concern in Mr. L's films, but he doesn't always ignore it, either. This story often works very well.

Lurking my way through many boards concerning OUATITW I come across one thing that I think a lot of people miss that I think is extremely important to the logic of the movie -- in my opinion, Cheyenne falls deeply in love with Jill and that is his motivation through the film. Lots of people don't seem to see that, and it seems to raise some confusion as to why he does certain things. Next time you watch the film, keep your eye on Robard's performance and how he reacts to Cardinale (with the exception of the first cantina, where he barely notices her). Once that lady makes him coffee, he is smitten, and everything else he does in the movie is for her -- and that has a lot to do with how the plot functions. My two cents.

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Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: 30 Westerns in Once
« on: September 14, 2005, 09:53:11 AM »
Here's a reference that isn't specific to OUATITW but that I think is important to Leone and the Dollars movies. The music in "Gunfight at O.K. Corral" has a lot of whistling in it. Very reminiscent of Alessandro's work in Fistful, etc.

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Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Harmonica's motive for the night scene
« on: September 14, 2005, 09:32:46 AM »
Hi folks, new to the board -- long time Leone fan...

Here's my take on Harmonica's night-time serenade of Jill. Remember that he also rather threateningly greets her the next morning out in the barn with the harmonica tune, as he emerges from the shadows. I have no real evidence of this, but I think that at this point in the story, he's not sure whether or not this woman who has come out of nowhere to claim Sweertwater might be a creature of Frank's. Harmonica only plays his tune when he's trying to scope out someone's connection to Frank, right? I think he thinks she might be part of Frank's land-grab. But then, when Frank's men ride in to kill her, he knows she's not part of Frank's crew. So he's playing the harmonica that night to spook her, to warn her, to fulfill his own obsession, to soften her up for a confrontation. Sucks that she nearly blows his head off, but he tries again the next morning. Does that work?

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