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dave jenkins
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« Reply #75 on: April 24, 2005, 09:11:52 PM »

Hey, did you know "the story takes place in Mexico during the revolution against the Spanish"? That's what it says in the less-than-helpful booklet that accompanies the DVD. MGM has all these resources to use on picture restoration, but they can't be bothered to hire a guy to write copy for their packaging who knows anything (nor are they able to edit out stupid howlers like the above). I guess Sony bought the company none too soon...

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« Reply #76 on: April 25, 2005, 06:01:25 PM »

Amazing....can't they let this film alone in the most complete version we can possibly have at this date? With all the talk of still missing scenes that we will probably never get to see, they continue to play around with his films.

As for Coburn's friend's character being called Sean, I can see that as being a possibilty. When Steiger first asks Coburn's character for his name, he replies "Sean". Not only does he reply "Sean", but he does so in an intonation to suggest that his mind is elsewhere, thinking or daydreaming, most certainly about his friend. Listen to the way he responds "Sean", then corrects himself with a more confident sounding "John", as if awaking from deep thought or coming back to the present moment.
  I think this in line with the way Coburn is haunted throughout the film about his friend; he thinks about him, & even momentarily makes a slip of mentioning his name when not paying attention.
What I don't buy is that he betrayed his friend first, that doesn't seem to fit & seems to be a stretch. I think his friend did betray Coburn & the others, Coburn judged him as a traitor there & then in the bar, & killed him. It haunts him, not just because he killed him but because of the unique relationship which they both shared with the girl which Coburn probably ended up losing as well.That particular piece of music when the flashbacks occur is very nostalgic & sentimental, which is appropriate, given that Coburn is thinking back to his memories in Ireland & about his friend. What sense would it make to have "SeanSeanSean" on the soundtrack,  & have it be about Coburn's character? Just to reinforce the fact that this is Coburn's character reflecting? No. The fact that we see his name as "John" in the newspaper is also a clear indication & was probably there in the film intentionally, so there would be no mistake as to what his name really was.
Even if his friend's name appeared as "Nolan" in the script, this could have been a temporary name, a "working " name for the script, or could be his last name. Scripts aren't always final & often change by the time the film is made. Either way, everything points to his friend being called Sean, & this is even accentuated in the soundtrack.

I also think the flashback was always intended to be there. As Coburn is lying there alone, waiting to die, the look on his face tells you; again his thoughts & mind seem to be drifting elsewhere. He clearly looks like he is thinking about something, or someone. It makes sense that the next scene is this flashback.
That's one aspect of this film; much of the 'action' is inward, or introspective, characters alone with their pain, melancholy & memories. It also leaves room for a lot of ambiguity which  is the reason that there are so many theories relating to these questions about the film.

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« Reply #77 on: April 25, 2005, 07:09:03 PM »

Amazing....can't they let this film alone in the most complete version we can possibly have at this date? With all the talk of still missing scenes that we will probably never get to see, they continue to play around with his films.

As for Coburn's friend's character being called Sean, I can see that as being a possibilty. When Steiger first asks Coburn's character for his name, he replies "Sean". Not only does he reply "Sean", but he does so in an intonation to suggest that his mind is elsewhere, thinking or daydreaming, most certainly about his friend. Listen to the way he responds "Sean", then corrects himself with a more confident sounding "John", as if awaking from deep thought or coming back to the present moment.
  I think this in line with the way Coburn is haunted throughout the film about his friend; he thinks about him, & even momentarily makes a slip of mentioning his name when not paying attention.
What I don't buy is that he betrayed his friend first, that doesn't seem to fit & seems to be a stretch. I think his friend did betray Coburn & the others, Coburn judged him as a traitor there & then in the bar, & killed him. It haunts him, not just because he killed him but because of the unique relationship which they both shared with the girl which Coburn probably ended up losing as well.That particular piece of music when the flashbacks occur is very nostalgic & sentimental, which is appropriate, given that Coburn is thinking back to his memories in Ireland & about his friend. What sense would it make to have "SeanSeanSean" on the soundtrack,  & have it be about Coburn's character? Just to reinforce the fact that this is Coburn's character reflecting? No. The fact that we see his name as "John" in the newspaper is also a clear indication & was probably there in the film intentionally, so there would be no mistake as to what his name really was.
Even if his friend's name appeared as "Nolan" in the script, this could have been a temporary name, a "working " name for the script, or could be his last name. Scripts aren't always final & often change by the time the film is made. Either way, everything points to his friend being called Sean, & this is even accentuated in the soundtrack.

I also think the flashback was always intended to be there. As Coburn is lying there alone, waiting to die, the look on his face tells you; again his thoughts & mind seem to be drifting elsewhere. He clearly looks like he is thinking about something, or someone. It makes sense that the next scene is this flashback.
That's one aspect of this film; much of the 'action' is inward, or introspective, characters alone with their pain, melancholy & memories. It also leaves room for a lot of ambiguity which  is the reason that there are so many theories relating to these questions about the film.
I find your insight very interesting and very plausible. It's funny that even after seing this film maybe some 20 times over the years; I can see it in a new light. This is also true of OUATITW: Bronson as death incarnate. This is why I enjoy this board so much.

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« Reply #78 on: April 25, 2005, 08:27:32 PM »

I can't remember whether I saw the movie 2 or 3 times at the theatres in Italy in the '70's. Anyway, the final flash-back was always there. 

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« Reply #79 on: April 25, 2005, 10:34:32 PM »


As for Coburn's friend's character being called Sean, I can see that as being a possibilty. When Steiger first asks Coburn's character for his name, he replies "Sean". Not only does he reply "Sean", but he does so in an intonation to suggest that his mind is elsewhere, thinking or daydreaming, most certainly about his friend. Listen to the way he responds "Sean", then corrects himself with a more confident sounding "John", as if awaking from deep thought or coming back to the present moment.
  I think this in line with the way Coburn is haunted throughout the film about his friend; he thinks about him, & even momentarily makes a slip of mentioning his name when not paying attention.
What I don't buy is that he betrayed his friend first, that doesn't seem to fit & seems to be a stretch. I think his friend did betray Coburn & the others, Coburn judged him as a traitor there & then in the bar, & killed him. It haunts him, not just because he killed him but because of the unique relationship which they both shared with the girl which Coburn probably ended up losing as well.That particular piece of music when the flashbacks occur is very nostalgic & sentimental, which is appropriate, given that Coburn is thinking back to his memories in Ireland & about his friend. What sense would it make to have "SeanSeanSean" on the soundtrack,  & have it be about Coburn's character? Just to reinforce the fact that this is Coburn's character reflecting? No. The fact that we see his name as "John" in the newspaper is also a clear indication & was probably there in the film intentionally, so there would be no mistake as to what his name really was.
Even if his friend's name appeared as "Nolan" in the script, this could have been a temporary name, a "working " name for the script, or could be his last name. Scripts aren't always final & often change by the time the film is made. Either way, everything points to his friend being called Sean, & this is even accentuated in the soundtrack.

This pretty much follows the line of thinking that's used in the documentary on disc 2 of the new SE DVD. The problem with this approach is not that it isn't a possible interpretation, just that it isn't the most likely one. Why does Coburn say "Sean" but then immediately change it to "John"? It could be that Sean is not his name; or it could be that it is his name but he prefers to go by John now; or, to help Juan out, he decides to use an anglo form of his name that a man from Mexico would be more familiar with. All of these explanations are possible. But Coburn is a man on the run, and such people often use a variety of names. This could explain the newspaper article: "John" might be one of Coburn's AKAs. So giving one name in an unguarded moment, then immediately thinking better of it and giving another, would be consistent with the actions of a fugitive.

The biggest obstacle to the "John is not Sean" theory, however, rests with the use of the Sean Sean Sean theme. As Frayling and others have pointed out, Leone tends to assign themes to his major characters in an operatic way. That is, a theme is not "about" the character, or about the situation the character is facing, or in some way an index of his inner state; the theme "is" the character, a musical representation of that person in their entirety. These musical calling cards supplement and expand the characters they are associated with (and as such there is no reason for these motifs to develop, even when characters change). The themes are part of the characters, and this is the way Leone consistently uses the device in his mature work.

So, for "Sean,Sean,Sean" not to refer to Coburn, Leone would have to be using a musical theme in a way not consistent with his usual practice. A possibility, surely, but not a likely one.

(Hey, here's an idea: BOTH Mallory and Nolan were named Sean. Just another indication of how close the two were!)

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« Reply #80 on: April 26, 2005, 02:03:01 AM »

I'm beginning to think Leone left this ambigious on purpose, comparable to the garbage truck in OUATIA, where more questions are raised than answered.
It did occur to me as well, that Coburn changed his name to an anglicized version to make it easier for Steiger to understand, & that he might be using aliases, being in the IRA, but.....if that's all it is, why emphasize it so much when Coburn "corrects" himself in that scene? Why make such a big deal out of it if that's all it is? Because it made Coburn's character more authentic as an IRA fugitive? Because it fleshed out Coburn's character a bit more with background detail?
Your theory comes from a factual/logical angle, while  the SE dvd's seems to be more 'romantic/tortured' oriented. Both could be right. Add to that if both Coburn & his friend really were both called Sean, then it complicates things a whole lot more. Now I really don't know! If both of them are called Sean, then I'm lost!

Leone did use themes that represented various characters in his films, you're right on that. However, Leone did things a bit differently with FOD/DYS, & twisted the formulas he used in the Dollars trilogy(specifically GBU) to a more complex effect. There is a good(Coburn), a bad(Guttierez, the 'german' commander) & an ugly(Steiger), but these types are all turned on their heads & the outcome varies greatly from the Dollars films.They don't fit the mold quite as well as in that trilogy. So it wouldn't be surprising then if in this case, Leone decided to do things differently with the music as well, thus making the SeanSeanSean theme about his friend, & not Coburn. Again, this is just a theory.
But, if both of them are called Sean, then I'm lost!

The thing that everyone can be sure of is that there is an issue with names in this film(Coburn's & his friend's), that this is intentional, & it's been left kind of ambigious, for what reason, I'm not sure. If you notice as well,, most people in the film(actually, I think it's just the doctor) call Coburn by his last name, Mallory. Can't get a break!
Could there be any other clues?


Anyone else with any theories?

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« Reply #81 on: April 26, 2005, 01:18:32 PM »

Hi Folks, I wonder if anyone could advise me as to whether there are any extra scenes in the new version, as compared to the MGM "Movie Time" edition I already own ?

Thanks, Dunc.

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« Reply #82 on: April 27, 2005, 02:51:40 AM »

As far as  I know, just the extended flashback sequence is new.

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« Reply #83 on: April 27, 2005, 05:20:42 PM »

Frayling mentions in his DYS commentary that the final flashback was not included in the very first showings of the movie. The Italian exhibitors, apparently, thought audiences would get bored and start to head for the aisles before the flashback ended, thus missing the explosive climax. The implication is that the flashback was intended by Leone from the very first showing, that the exhibitors cut it against his wishes. So it was rightfully restored in the 1996 Italian re-release.

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« Reply #84 on: April 28, 2005, 03:13:00 PM »

As I said in my previous comment, the sequence must have been in at least one of the copies of the movies I watched in the theatres in Italy in the '70's. Unfortunately, I recorded over the version given in the '80's, on the italian public TV, when all Leone's western were first televised, each introduced by Leone himself. The sequence was there, as when I bought the 5 dvd box a pair of years ago it didn't come  as a suprise to me (and it should have, had I not ever seen it!). It is possible it was cut from the first showings of the movie (I saw it first some months afer the initial release), but  I can't understand why it couldn't have been reintegrated soon aferwards.

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« Reply #85 on: April 30, 2005, 08:44:30 PM »


Leone did use themes that represented various characters in his films, you're right on that. However, Leone did things a bit differently with FOD/DYS, & twisted the formulas he used in the Dollars trilogy(specifically GBU) to a more complex effect. There is a good(Coburn), a bad(Guttierez, the 'german' commander) & an ugly(Steiger), but these types are all turned on their heads & the outcome varies greatly from the Dollars films.They don't fit the mold quite as well as in that trilogy. So it wouldn't be surprising then if in this case, Leone decided to do things differently with the music as well, thus making the SeanSeanSean theme about his friend, & not Coburn. Again, this is just a theory.
But, if both of them are called Sean, then I'm lost!

I think we have to be very careful here. There is a level of plausibility we can achieve by spinning theories based on the film alone, but which disolve when we step back and look at Leone's development as an artist. We have to consider how SL changed things as he went along. We have to acknowledge, for example, a shift in the way he used music after the Dollars trilogy.

In the trilogy the music has several functions, but chief among them, it seems to me, is to make the trilogy cohere. We actually get motifs that wander between the films as a way of showing that each movie is part of a set (Frayling thinks the Bond theme and the way it was used in that series provided the model for Leone and Morricone's approach). We do get themes occasionally associated with particular characters (think Indio and the watch chime), but this technique is not applied as rigorously as it is later.

With OUATITW, however, we get the full operatic treatment. Every major character is given a musical theme: Jill, Cheyenne, even Morton. Interestingly, Harmonica and Frank seem to share "As a Judgement" (this may be a vestige from FAFDM, where Indio and Mortimer are linked by the watch chime). This is a watershed in Leone's approach to music. Although OUATITW is unique, and demanded a strict application of themes to characters in a way no other movie has since, Leone did not entirely abandon this approach on his subsequent films. Even as late as OUATIA we see it in use: Deborah's Theme, Cockeye's Theme, as examples.

So, we would expect to see this approach, even if modified, in an intervening film like DYS. And lo and behold: there are 4 main characters, and 4 musical motifs. However, one character, Villega, doesn't get a theme. One motif (you can't really call it a theme) is associated with the proto-Nazi officer, but only occurs a couple of time. The other 3 motifs, which account for 80 percent of the film's music, are divided between Juan and Malllory. Juan apparently gets 2 themes: the first one we hear when he is introduced is a kind of march (with something that sounds like musical farting) and always plays whenever Juan is up to his usual tricks. The second theme is rather melancholy: it first occurs when Juan and his family arrive in Mesa Verde, and recurs at the grotto scene and on the train before Juan kills Huerta. I think Juan is the only character in any Leone film to get 2 themes.

That just leaves one other theme in DYS, and we would expect it to apply to Mallory. Were this NOT to be the case, it would be a major departure from Leone's approach to the use of musical motifs in his later films. Yet, he seems to have been consistent. The Sean,Sean,Sean theme only plays when Mallory is on screen, objectively in the present, or when his subjective point of view of the past is represented. No Mallory, no Sean, Sean, Sean.

There is one exception. At the very beginning of the movie, after Juan has pissed on the ants, we start to hear the March With Farts theme. This is suddenly interrupted by what sounds like thunder (Juan looks up at the sky) and then we hear the Sean, Sean, Sean motif. This turns out to be musical foreshadowing, as later, when Mallory makes his entrance, there is first an explosion (actually several) followed by the Sean,Sean,Sean theme, then the appearance of Mallory out of a cloud of dust. The theme herald's Mallory's arrival, and it is associated with him (and his memories) ever afterward.

I do not think there can be any doubt that Sean,Sean,Sean is Mallory's theme. Then why is the name Sean used if it is not also Mallory's name? There may be many clever ways to answer this, but surely the simple answer is the best one: Mallory's theme uses Sean, Sean, Sean because Mallory is Sean.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2005, 05:14:53 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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« Reply #86 on: May 01, 2005, 07:25:36 AM »

yeah I would agree with most of that Dave - however, I would be interested to quantify what kind of influence Sergio Donati had in all of this. Consider the extra political and human depth of OUATITW and DYS/FOD specifically. They stand in stark contrast to the dollars trilogy ( or at least the first two anyway). Perhaps DYS/FOD is more Donati that Leone in 'writing' which is again another reason for it's apparent failure to initially connect with the cinema going audience of the early 70's.

btw - does anyone else think the sean sean is really harsh and nasty in the new mix - I have the 2003 MGM and it's very much softer and warmer than this new bright and hissy mix...and I am usually very into 5.1 remixes.

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« Reply #87 on: May 01, 2005, 05:36:46 PM »

I took another look at the DVD last night just to make sure I hadn't lied to you guys. I *had* mis-remembered a couple things, so I'm setting the record straight.

The motif associated with Gunther Ruiz isn't exclusively his. It also is applied to Huerta, the guy Ruiz is working for, when he's getting on the train. As I said above, I don't really consider this motif a "theme", and the reason is that there is no melody line. This is appropriate because Ruiz isn't so much a character as a force; and Huerta, of course, represents the same force. The soundtrack album calls this piece something like "Counter Revolution", and so it probably is correct to think of it as an abstraction of a force rather than a character.

The other thing is that the Sean, Sean, Sean theme plays again at the end, after Mallory has blown himself up. Strictly speaking, Mallory isn't on screen while this plays, so this fact counters my earlier contention. But it makes sense to have the theme play at the moment of his passing (you could argue that he IS there, in the cloud of smoke we see ascending), if only to demonstrate that the theme is all that's left of him. (And if it isn't Mallory's theme, then why have it at the end? It can't be referring to the buddy back in Ireland at that point).

BTW, it may be observed that what I am calling Juan's second theme is really just a variation on Sean, Sean, Sean (without the vocals, of course). The two themes are very similar, but they do seem distinct. The particular variation (if that's the way to describe it) that applies to Juan is only ever used with Juan, so I think it can be seen as a separate theme. Of course, the similarity between Sean,Sean,Sean and "Juan's second theme" causes no real difficulties, as we are used to Leone characters who share themes (Mortimer and Indio, Harmonica and Frank).

Okay, now maybe I should go get a life......

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« Reply #88 on: May 12, 2005, 08:00:40 PM »

About Leone formulas running throughout the film, one thing I noticed that Leone introduced as one of the biggest elements in ths plot changes in the Once Upon a Time... trilogy is the theme of betrayal between two characters who turn on each other, which shows how much they're both eachother's enemy before they even know it.

Morton being held by Frank's men and then paying off Frank's men to kill him. In a way Frank betrayed Morton, but it wasn't really followed through, but was something that would have eventually happened in the long run. Both ways the betrayal's came to an end quick.

Harmonica also "betrays" Cheyenne and turns him in. Even though Cheyenne and Harmonica were in it together, the theme of betrayal was still present in changing the plot.

In OUATIA Max and Noodles both betray each other and their friends and in fact that theme is foreshadowed earlier on when Max comes to pick Noodles up for a job before they get beat to hell by Bugsy and the gang. Max wanting to get out of Bugsy's group to go on "business" of his own and then saying that Noodles would rather leave him for the girl, who eventually becomes Max's woman at the end of the movie.

I'm assuming that's enough to know to be able to put the pieces together in DYS. In both OUATITW/A there was a woman + greed involved between the men betraying/being betrayed. Maybe the theory that the fellow posted above about Mallory betraying his buddy and then his buddy betraying him for the girl was the case? Maybe they agreed to pull a "Harmonica and Cheyenne", but one of them decided to go serious about it behind the other guy's back?

Maybe the two decided that Sean would be the "Judas" and Nolan the betrayee, but Nolan decided to make a deal that he would be let go if he turned Sean in, meanwhile Sean and the woman would be far away from Ireland, so upon Sean's being discovered he kills the officers, realizes what his friend had done and kills him. But what about the girl? Or maybe the deal was to kill the policemen but not Nolan, but Sean betrayed him? Maybe the woman was in jail or a camp and they were going to steal the policemen's uniforms to save her and the betrayl of both of them was part of the act save for the last bullet? I'm on a roll, here Cool

AHH! With this revelation about the double-betraying and the woman in the middle there's a million different possibilities now Tongue I feel like a loser though.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2005, 08:15:32 PM by Poggle » Logged
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« Reply #89 on: June 04, 2005, 05:58:22 PM »

Still no news for the region 1 release. I just sent a request on the mgm site. I suggest that anyone interested do the same. The region 2 DVD is out so why not in America? If all members from this board request it, the studio may finally respond.

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