A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, May 11, 2018

Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West
Jill McBain: Claudia Cardinale
Frank: Henry Fonda
Manuel "Cheyenne" Guitiérrez: Jason Robards
Harmonica: Charles Bronson
Morton: Gabriele Ferzetti
Stony; Woody Strode
Snaky: Jack Elam
Sam: Paolo Stoppa
Sheriff: Keenan Wynn
Brett McBain: Frank Wolff
Barman: Lionel Stander

Director: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci
Cinematography: Tonino Delli Colli
Art direction: Carlo Simi
Film editing: Nino Baragli
Music: Ennio Morricone

An acknowledged genre classic, Once Upon a Time in the West is also a rather self-conscious product of European filmmakers tipping their hats to the American masters of the Western movie, particularly John Ford, whose favorite setting, Monument Valley, plays almost a cameo role in the film. Ford would never have made anything quite so slowly paced, however. Director Sergio Leone's film is full of stylish gestures that make it immensely watchable, but draw attention to themselves rather than the story being told -- a pitfall that the great Western moviemakers like Ford or Howard Hawks or Sam Peckinpah never let themselves stumble into.

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