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Author Topic: 30 Westerns in Once  (Read 106139 times)
dave jenkins
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« on: November 12, 2004, 05:08:55 PM »

We all know that Leone quoted from many of his favorite westerns in OUATITW. For example, the opening set piece clearly references the bad guys waiting for the train in High Noon.

According to Frayling, "there were about thirty references to other Hollywood Westerns--confirmed by at least one of the participants in the pre-production meetings."

Frayling lists some of the "30" :

The Iron Horse
Shane
Pursued
The Searchers
Run of the Arrow
Winchester 73
Johnny Guitar
Warlock
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Man of the West
Man Without a Star
Rio Bravo
Western Union
Jubal
The Magnificent Seven
The Last Sunset

Even if these are correctly identified (and I have reservations for some, like Warlock), this list is considerably shy of 30. Cumbow, in his book Once Upon A Time, has some of the above but also others, including:

Gunfight at the OK Corral
3:10 to Yuma
Last Train from Gun Hill

He also mentions a Michael Curtiz Western, The Comcheros, which has John Wayne using the alias "McBain" , and the appearance of a town named Sweetwater.

Can anyone identify other Westerns referenced in OUATITW? Better still, direct quotations? And are all the references cited above valid (I have not seen all the movies mentioned)?

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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2004, 05:51:34 PM »

i can confirm the commancheros thing... not sure if it qualifies as a reference but the main character uses the identity of a man named mcbain... a dead man who was rich and prosperous... and sweetwater plays a pretty big part... so there are some similarities...

the only reference to 3:10 to yuma is that the whole conversation between keenan wynn and cheyenne about sending him to a new prison being built in Yuma is basically lifted right out of 3:10 to yuma... but then again how different can a discussion about sending a man to jail be... GREAT GREAT  movie btw... i recommend it second only to high noon from this list.

The shane, iron horse, johnny guitar, and the man who shot liberty valance references are pretty obvious and definitly there... in shane a man leaves a woman, and some annoying kid, behind in basically the same way bronson does with his "someday" scene, the train shots from iron horse of course, the town meeting scene is the point of reference for the town auction and is probably considered a reference more because it's known to be one of leone's favorites and not as much because of actual similarities... but there are some.... johnny guitar i don't remember, but trust me, i do remember watching it and saying "wow, that is pretty obvious"...

The only thing that references the searchers is supposedly the scene where jill is visited by a harmonica playing in the wind at night and she grabs a gun... i don't get it...

High Noon also has to do with the gun and the clock... and the "noon already" line by bronson

And i believe i remember reading something about the 1 dollar in the drink to refuse an offer in the saloon scene having something to do with gunfight at the OK corrall... but i don't remember... i've never seen it.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2004, 09:13:49 PM »


The only thing that references the searchers is supposedly the scene where jill is visited by a harmonica playing in the wind at night and she grabs a gun... i don't get it...


Cumbow says the slaughter of the McBain family references the raid on the homestead in The Searchers and there are actually direct quotations: the birds flying up from the brush as prelude, and "the small child looking up apprehensively but bravely at the subjective-camera adult intruder."

Thanks for the info on the other films. I'll have to take another look at OK Corral today.....

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cigar joe
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2004, 06:52:33 AM »

Johnny Guitar has a small model of a town (like in OUTITW) that Joan Crawford's character hopes will be built around her saloon when the railroad comes through.

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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2004, 01:42:23 PM »

Cumbow says the slaughter of the McBain family references the raid on the homestead in The Searchers and there are actually direct quotations: the birds flying up from the brush as prelude, and "the small child looking up apprehensively but bravely at the subjective-camera adult intruder."

Your right... that is a pretty obvious reference... guess i missed it... or was at least looking in the wrong spot.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2004, 04:15:44 PM »

Watched Gunfight at the OK Corral this weekend and didn't spot a scene with a dollar in a shot glass. Nor did I see anything that put me in OUATITW. I'm beginning to wonder if OK Corral actually is referenced by Leon. Anybody have any thoughts?

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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2004, 04:37:51 PM »

could be something very minute that doesn't really even count as a reference

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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2004, 11:57:17 PM »

Check out Peckinpah's Ride the High Country. Ends with Joel McCrea catching a few slugs in the gut and asking his partner, Randolph Scott, to turn away and not watch him die.

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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2005, 02:13:43 PM »

Ok,so thus far we have Comancheros,3:10 to Yuma,Shane,Iron Horse,the Searchers,Johnny Guitar,Ride the High Country and High Noon.That makes eight,so we''re still far from 30.

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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2005, 04:47:50 PM »

Off topic, On a side note in The Bravados Gregory Peck after the men that raped and killed his wife, one of the "baddies" is Lee Van Cleef, as he confronts each man he opens his pocket watch to show a pic of his dead wife.... now where have we seen this before?

Also watching Red River as I type, and the coyote howl that we hear in GBU is duplicated from this film.

So I think there is going to be some very small quotes like dave mentions that we may be passing over.

I think instead of "Gunfight at the OK Corral" its supposed to be in "My Darling Clementine", The Jack Elam fly sequence is supposed to be a rerun of Buster Keaton''s butterfly gag in "The Paleface".

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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2005, 09:45:54 AM »

Ok more, Johnny Guitar also has the "good cup of coffee" line by Sterling Hayden.

Here is a small one for you Dave, and a new entry, near the end of Red River in Abeline Kansas Montgomery Cliff's character meets up with his girlfriend in a Hotel room he takes off his hat and brushes against an oil lamp hanging from the cieling, the shadow rises and falls as the two embrace, in this film its nothing, in Leone's hands it becomes iconic.

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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2005, 10:40:27 PM »


Here is a small one for you Dave, and a new entry, near the end of Red River in Abeline Kansas Montgomery Cliff's character meets up with his girlfriend in a Hotel room he takes off his hat and brushes against an oil lamp hanging from the cieling, the shadow rises and falls as the two embrace, in this film its nothing, in Leone's hands it becomes iconic.
Thanks, I'm gonna take another look at RR tonight!

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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2005, 03:01:42 AM »

Ok,so thus far we have Comancheros,3:10 to Yuma,Shane,Iron Horse,the Searchers,Johnny Guitar,Ride the High Country and High Noon.That makes eight,so we''re still far from 30.
who could forget "TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN " ?  Shocked

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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2005, 04:42:03 AM »

What did they use from Terror in a Texas Town Kermit? I've never seen this one.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2005, 09:48:08 PM »

Finally saw 3:10 to Yuma. An interesting film that starts out strong but gets stupid as it goes along. Still, from the perspective of a Leoneaste, it is fascinating, and as far as this thread is concerned, represents a motherlode of references.  There may be more quotations from it in OUATITW than from any other single film.

Before enumerating them, I should point out some general effects that Leone used not only in OUATITW but throughout his career. One is a particular shot of horses from the pov of a driver on a buckboard or coach; we see this used in GBU between the time Tuco and Blondie leave the mission and before they are captured by the blue bellies. We see  a very similar shot in OUATITW on the drive from Flagstone to the trading post. The antecedent for these is a shot in 3:10 near the very beginning of the film when a stagecoach is held up by Glenn Ford and his gang.

Ford uses cattle to impede the progress of the coach, and the steers kick up a lot of dust. This gives the director, Delmer Daves, the opportunity to present something that would later become a signature Leone shot: men emerging from clouds of dust. GBU and OUATITW both include such shots, but Daves did it earlier.

Also, Daves uses a *lot* of crane shots, maybe even more than the master himself. He even uses what we might call a reverse crane shot: intead of beginning close to the actors and moving away, he sometimes begins high above and then swoops down for a closeup.

Now for some of the references specific to OUATITW. The most obvious one is the casting-against-type of the bad guy. Long before Fonda's Frank, there was Glenn Ford as a cold-hearted killer. Even though this didn't work very well (Daves establishes Ford's ruthlessness early on, but for the rest of the picture Ford defaults to his usual on-screen persona), it is an attempt to put an actor associated exclusively with good-guy parts in the role of a baddie.

Another nod to Daves is the use of music in OATITW. Particular themes recur, sometimes under a scene (available to the audience, but not to the characters)and sometimes within the scene (the characters can hear or even create the music). Both films employ a character associated with a certain piece of music performing that very piece of music: OUATITW has The Man With the Harmonica, and 3:10 has The Man With the Puckered Lips (Ford whistles the theme while semi-reclining, his hat pulled down over his eyes).

Then there is the plan in OUATITW to ship a captive outlaw to Yuma as a safety measure, the exact situation of 3:10.

Finally, the biggest quote of 3:10 in OUATITW is Frank's dangerous walk down the streets of Flagstone. In 3:10 Van Heflin must also negotiate a street overwatched by ambushers, and there is even a moment when a spotter (Henry Jones) shouts out a warning that enables Heflin to down a gunman before he is shot (followed by the appropriate stunt work). There are differences, of course (the spotter is in the street and Heflin, at that point, is up on the second floor of a building), but you only need to watch this sequence once to know what inspired Leone's similar (but much superior) scene.

These are the quotations that leapt out at me on my first viewing of 3:10. No doubt more can be found......

« Last Edit: June 02, 2006, 09:02:09 AM by dave jenkins » Logged


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