Film Club – Once Upon A Time In The West

Film Club
Action, Western
Release date:
2 hours 46 minutes
Sergio DonatiSergio LeoneDario Argento
Sergio Leone
Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale.
Age restriction:

Hailsham Pavilion Film Club Presents.... Once Upon A Time In The West

Once Upon a Time in the West is a 1968 epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, who co-wrote it with Sergio Donati based on a story by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Leone. It stars Henry Fonda, cast against type as the villain, Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Jason Robards as a bandit, and Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader. The widescreen cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli, and the acclaimed film score was by Ennio Morricone.

After directing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone decided to retire from Westerns and aimed to produce his film based on the novel The Hoods, which eventually became Once Upon a Time in America. However, Leone accepted an offer from Paramount Pictures providing Henry Fonda and a budget to produce another Western. He recruited Bertolucci and Argento to devise the plot of the film in 1966, researching other Western films in the process. After Clint Eastwood turned down an offer to play the movie’s protagonist, Bronson was offered the role.

Once Upon a Time in the West was reviewed in 1969 in the Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert, who gave it two and a half stars out of four. He found the film “good fun” and “a painstaking distillation” of Leone’s famous style, with intriguing performances by actors cast against their type and a richness of detail projecting “a sense of life of the West” made possible by Paramount’s larger budget for this Leone film. Ebert complained, however, of the film’s length and convoluted plot, which he said only becomes clear by the second hour. While viewing Cardinale as a good casting choice, he said she lacked the “blood-and-thunder abandon” of her performance in Cartouche (1962), blaming Leone for directing her “too passively”.

In subsequent years, the film developed a greater standing among critics, as well as a cult following. Directors such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino, and Vince Gilligan have cited the film as an influence on their work. It has also appeared on prominent all-time critics lists, including Times 100 greatest films of the 20th century and Empires 500 greatest movies of all time, where it was the list’s highest-ranking Western at number 14. Popular culture scholar Christopher Frayling regarded it as “one of the greatest films ever made”.

Rotten Tomatoes reports a 95% approval rating based on 66 reviews, with an average score of 9.20/10. The critical consensus reads: “A landmark Sergio Leone spaghetti Western masterpiece featuring a classic Morricone score”. Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 82 out of 100 based on reviews from 9 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Film Club Events

Film Club screenings may start with a 20 minute introduction to the Film please arrive early to avoid any interruption to the speaker, Many Thanks.

All Film Club Members get a discount on their ticket prices, £5 for Members and £8 for Non-Members.

To obtain your Special Film Club ticket price of £5 Please see your membership card for the ‘Coupon Code’ when you book.

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