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Search for a westerns thread yielded jack shit, so here goes...


Okay, first, let's talk about Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. Possibly Leone's greatest work right up there next to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Duck You Sucker. It's an amazingly deep and well put together film, but apparently myself and "Mr. Indiana Jones is a kiddy movie DERP DERP HERP DE DERP!" Alive She Cried (I love you man, but your words make me sad) are the only people who saw that movie.


Now I know Nick likes Unforgiven, so the fact that this movie sailed over his head both shocks and appalls me in the ways I cannot describe. So here we go, let's kick it off.


Once Upon a Time in the West is the end of westerns, period. Sure Unforgiven was famous for doing it, but In the West did it better. It wasn't an action/adventure title like the dollars trilogy before it, it wasn't John Wayne, it wasn't Lee Van Cleef, or Charlton Heston, or anything that came before it. It was a mean-spirited pessimistic western that showed the world without the romanticism. It was a contrast between what the west was portrayed as and what it could have been.


Look at our characters. We have Harmonica, our "Man With No Name", a man who's out to avenge the deaths of his family. Harmonica is our typical anti-hero, but he's not much of one. Sure, he's out to kill Frank, but you get the feeling he's doing it more because he's got nothing else to live for. It's what sets him apart from Monco/Joe/Blondie. Harmonica is a reluctant anti-hero, he's fallen into a nice out of events beyond his control and though he has no desire to live this way, he has nowhere else to go. You know that Harmonica's life after killing Frank probably didn't last very long and maybe that was intentional. In many ways Harmonica's revenge has consumed him so much that he's not even a man anymore, just a tool to complete a task. He's a dead man walking and even he seems to know it.


In fact you could say this mood carries on to Frank, Cheyenne, and the railroad man. They all seem to realize that by the end of this movie they're not about to ride off into the sunset. Look at the railroad man Morton, who's dying of a terminal illness but he's still obsessed with finishing his railroad. A railroad that he'll never even live to see but still he tries to make all the money he possibly can for an ultimately futile goal.


And especially look at Frank, Peter Fonda should've won an Oscar for this man. He's the bad guy, or he would be the bad guy in any other movie, but here he's reduced to hired muscle. You can tell this bothers him, knowing he's not the top of his world anymore. The scene where he's sitting behind Morton's desk, talking about how powerful he feels and then reaches for his gun by reflex when the other man makes a noise, you see the shame and sorrow in his eyes. He's realized that he's obsolete, and what's worse, he'll never be a part of the world that people like Morton are creating.


All 3 of these characters represent a sort of impotence that clearly bothers them. Morton is a dying man obsessed with amassing a fortune, Harmonica's a man with so little identity left that he gives dead men's names whenever he's asked who he is, and Frank is deflated at every turn by people who he by all rights should have complete control over. The 4 male leads of this film represent the western as it was and were very clear symbolism of the slow death of the genre.


Then we have the best character of the entire movie and I daresay the best heroine in any movie ever. Jill McBain appears to be your average western heroine at first glance. She's pretty, she's well dressed, and she's weak... or so we're led to believe. The point when we realize that Jill is amazing is actually one of the most tired dramatic plot devices in cinema or literature: the rape scene. Frank shows up and finds Jill alone and unprotected, she has no means of fending off the much larger man and it's clear that what's about to happen is about to happen. Normally we're treated to the character being slapped and then the sound of her screaming as she's manhandled. But Jill just sits down with a "let's get this over with" attitude and flat out tells Frank that no matter what he does the last trace of what he's done is going to be tossed out with the dirty bathwater. You can see Frank deflate when she says this and it's an incredibly powerful scene, she may be the hooker with a heart of gold but she's easily the strongest person in this movie while still holding on to her femininity. This serves to make the movie's finale resonate that much more. Frank, Cheyenne, and Morton are all dead and Harmonica probably isn't far off himself. Jill stands there alone. The new town, HER town, is rising all around her and you see that she's made it. These castoffs of a bygone era have all passed on and Jill, a former prostitute no less, is about to become the mother of a new nation. A world she's made herself fit into by rising above the one she was in. The west is gone, the end.


It's not about gunfights, it's not about gallant blue eyed heroes or rough looking anti-heroes. It's not about bandits and shootouts and train robberies. Have you not noticed that most all of the action scenes were taken from other westerns? Leone did this intentionally, it was a near parody of the western genre as it was and the harsh reality of what it would've been. If you wanted to give this movie an arbitrary title that sums it up the way it's meant to be seen, then consider it a noir western.


So that is why having Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Cleef waiting for the train would've been not only clever, but extremely effective. Maybe it would've been a little heavy handed symbolism, but that's apparently what this movie needed more of as nobody seems to have gotten it. Seeing Wallach, Eastwood, and Van Cleeft gunned down just after the opening credits roll would've been the best way of saying "this isn't Dollars 4" that Leone could have done. It would've summarized the whole movie in 5 minutes. It would NOT have made Charles Bronson look like a badass, if that's what you saw or what you expected then you don't get it.


Unforgiven was twice as heavy handed and twice as desolate and drawn out (I swear nothing happened for like an hour there) and still didn't convey this message half as good as this movie. So you saying that Once Upon a Time in The West isn't half the movie that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by your standards, is like calling Memoirs of a Geisha the worst kung fu movie of all time. Of course it's slow, and the action scenes are both anticlimactic and horribly derivative, they're supposed be.


Now I love Unforgiven, and The Good the Bad and the Ugly is number 2 on my list of all time favorite westerns. But this movie was a deep, powerful, and very well made movie and I daresay the best spaghetti western ever made. Leone could've quit the genre right then and it would've been okay, but fortunately he didn't and we got Duck You Sucker out of the deal. Most underrated great movie of all time.


Also, so as not to play MusicManiac, I had some help from this site: helped me form some of my thoughts together and I borrowed some of the reviewer's phrasings. But I stand by both my review and the one on there.

Edited by Iambaytor
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great thread. ima look to see if another like it exists, just in case.

your words make me want to watch said flick again. The hooker scene sounds more impressive than i recall. the earlier stuff about living past the era, that nihlistic sense...im acknowledging bias here, but it didnt stick with me like it did in The Shootist. I stand by my claim that the Duke deserved it there, not True Grit.


I got the "this is it" thing from it, i did. I dig Bronson (not as much as you, granted) for a number of reasons, but Clint as the last cowboy nailed it for me, it was the proper sendoff that we're not gonna see eye-to-eye on because a) you seem to think Unforgiven had pacing problems and b) your constant votes for others as The Saint of Killers leads me to think you dont value his aging-into-the-role thing as much as i.


So that is why having Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Cleef waiting for the train would've been not only clever, but extremely effective. Maybe it would've been a little heavy handed symbolism, but that's apparently what this movie needed more of as nobody seems to have gotten it. Seeing Wallach, Eastwood, and Van Cleeft gunned down just after the opening credits roll would've been the best way of saying "this isn't Dollars 4" that Leone could have done. It would've summarized the whole movie in 5 minutes. It would NOT have made Charles Bronson look like a badass, if that's what you saw or what you expected then you don't get it.


here's the thing: you just got done going on about parody/a real look at westerns, and some degree of subtlety (i took that from your words, anyway). this scene you'd wanted, its so heavy-handed, it reminds me of John Byrne's Spider-Man: Chapter One where the criminal takes like a whole page explaining to Peter the irony of him not stopping him prior to his killing Uncle Ben. to your " if that's what you saw or what you expected then you don't get it." i can only respond: if you think this movie needed it laid out by numbers of your in the first few minutes, its not the film you're selling.


Here's where shit differs: you have Tombstone, the hollywood, awesomely-over-the-top take on the shootout at the OK corral. for what it is, i think we'd agree its quite enjoyable, and id also say we could both stand to see more like it these days. On the other side, the more realistic/historically accurate version is actually costner's Wyatt Earp, a film that reflects a lot of what ive read from the man/time, and usually gets shat on by people/critics for doing that.


Where Unforgiven did more than just Once Upon a Time (i really, really am not trying to dig at Leone here, and you've also pointed out i should really see Duck You Sucker) is that Unforgiven did these things, it shat on the cliches and showed you a story of no real heroes, no take 10 paces, nothing pretty at all (long before Deadwood and such) but we both know the idea of the Saint of Killers comes from the finale, with Clint basically walking off ready to kill the whole town if they dont do what he said. It served to dispell all the annie oakley mythos while still tipping its hat in homage in the final act. i realize my argument isnt as interesting 'cause my flick is highly celebrated and got an oscar and shit, but it doesnt make it any less poignant.

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Unforgiven was the death of the cowboy hero, Once Upon a Time was the death of the western. One could argue that Once was more effective as westerns became the black sheep until Eastwood made Pale Rider, but to do that would just be prickish.


And yeah the opening would've been heavy handed but like I said, apparently a little heavy handedness was what the movie needed. Things to look for upon review: the scene with Frank and Morton on the train where Frank sits behind the desk, the aforementioned rape scene, and really any exchange of words between Cheyenne and Harmonica. Also look for some of the silent scenes, they're some of the best directed scenes there are.


As for Duck You Sucker, be warned: This was Leone's take on the Mexican Revolutionary movies and it's just as, if not more, pessimistic than Once Upon a Time. Leone was very adamant that there was nothing to be celebrated or romanticized about revolution. So be forewarned.

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  • 8 months later...

So, I just realized I never mentioned this at the time. The Saint of Killers was taken from High Plains Drifter, not Unforgiven. That being said, let's talk about Django!


Django is a great movie, the only real hurdle being the terrible dubbing (and don't tell me to watch the non-dubbed version because no such Spaghetti western exists. The Americans were speaking English, the Italians were speaking Italian, and most of them were just lip syncing anyway) It's the other western remake of Yojimbo (the first being A Fistful of Dollars) and it's the bloodier, more violent, darker cousin to Leone's masterpiece. What Django lacks in Leone's careful directing and romanticism it more than makes up for in story and spectacle and the shot of Django dragging the coffin along the ground through the opening credits is one of the more effective establishing shots I've yet seen.


I also picked up the unofficial sequel "Django, Prepare a Coffin/Viva Django" where Terence Hill fills in for Franco Nero (because they look like the exact same person, except Hill is a better actor) where Django goes around as a hangman faking the deaths of people falsely accused of stealing gold shipments to build an army to take on the rich businessman who killed his wife. Not as good as Django but still a fine movie.


I'm currently trying to track down the official sequel called "Django Strikes Again" but am having no luck so if someone could hook me up with a tape/torrent/rapidshare/laserdisc/film reel/acting troupe with the script I'd really appreciate it. It's not ever been released on DVD and the VHS is nigh upon impossible to track down.

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man, good luck with finding that sequel, post back on your impressions. i too enjoyed Django..and good call on High Plains Drifter, that was a lot closer to his story (

minus the awkward half-rape bit)



i'm still sitting on The Proposition, but worse yet, ive had Duck, you sucker in queue like since this thread started, as well as b.gifThe Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which i recall hearing good things about also.

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  • 1 year later...

(even more modern ones like that weird shit with Johnny Depp).


Are you talking about Dead Man? I love Dead Man.


It has Gibby Hayes from the Butthole Surfers in a dress. That makes anything awesome.

Edited by Thelogan
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i think that's it, yeah. this hot chick in a film class had me watch most of it, i had to pretend i liked Rent as well. it got me nowhere. :???:

and re-reading baytor's 1st post still makes me think better of Once Upon a Time in the West.


fuck i still havnet seen Duck you Sucker

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Oh by the way, I did finally track down Django Strikes Again. It is not a Spaghetti Western in even the most vague sense of the word. I don't know what the fuck it is. I'm not even sure if I liked it or not. It just simply is.


I've been sitting on Deadman for ages. Partially because I still don't know how I feel about Jim Jarmusch. I need to just sit down and watch it already.


oh, here we go.

last i read on it, westerns were still the largest genre due to oversaturation in the day, so you gotta understand where i'm picky with my time - yeah, ive watched a metric fuckton of b-rated Duke ones, but i suppose i don't talk about some of the other greats like The Ox Bow Incident, or the other ones you pick up in film class (even more modern ones like that weird shit with Johnny Depp). i tend to find a brand (actor/director) i like and ride it out, clearly. if you know many dudes who aren't Wayne, Eastwood, Fonda, Cooper etc (borgnine?) and are consistently good in western flicks, we've a thread for that!


and no, the only Django i saw was Sukiyaki, though i wish i'dve seen the older one instead.


she sucked, but even better casting calls like Crowe and Leo didn't really get their due, moreso Leo i recall thinking. it was like watching most of the people in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, only that was admittedly way worse. i didn't really care about anyone's plight.


Fair enough, you need to branch out more though. There are some great spaghetti westerns you need to watch, though many I'm probably going to have to make you a DVD of because I had to scour some dark corners of the internet for them. Still you really need to watch Django, if you make it to Texas I've got the DVD so we'll watch it then.


The Big Gundown and it's sequel Run, Man Run.

God, Forgives I Don't/Blood River

Ace High

Boot Hill

My Name is Nobody

The Sabata triliogy (Lee Van Cleef)

and really anything by Sergio Corbucci.


I also find it nothing short of criminal that you don't know anything about the western careers of Tom Selleck and worse yet Sam Elliot. I think when I mentioned his name you said "He played a cowboy in The Big Lebowski" and if we were in person I probably would have hit you. There's a reason he was in Tombstone you know.


So watch:


The Quick and the Dead (the non-Raimi one),

Crossfire Trail

The Sacketts

The Shadow Riders (if you watch only one of these, make it this one)

Quigley Down Under

Last Stand at Sabre River.


Also any western by Walter Hill

Geronimo: An American Legend (unlike the big budget one with Daniel Day Lewis, Hill hired Wes Studi, an actual Native American, to play the lead)

The Long Riders Got all 3 Carradines (David, Robert, and Keith), both Quaids (Randy and Dennis), and boths Keachs (Stacey and James) to play the James/Younger gang.

Wild Bill - starring Jeff Bridges!

and Broken Trail


I'll also probably send you this at some point:


It's pretty bad but it's ridiculously entertaining despite and because of that. You will believe that James Brolin can just show up to collect his paycheck.


And watch Duck, You Sucker! If nothing else you can find out where Pacino stole his terrible Cuban accent from.

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  • 3 years later...

7 goddamn years later


...so Fistful of Dynamite was fantastic, and a great call. so much to say but i'm running out the door - i absolutely adore the times when Leon says "i wanna do a western, but i also wanna do a war flick. FUCK IT, I"M GONNA DO BOTH" and tears it up

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I enjoyed The Proposition a lot but I found it a curiously empty experience, one of these days I'll get around to re watching it and it will enrich me more.


You watch Bone Tomahawk yet?

I had the same experience with The Proposition. I found is rather forgettable. Also, I second you seeing Bone Tomahawk ASAP, NZA.
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  • 7 months later...
  • 10 months later...

basically jacking this post to make a note to myself to look these one up & see if baytor or others have seen any of em


McCabe and Mrs. Miller - Well this one is famous and has been mentioned but it can't be said enough: if you only watch one revisionist western make it this one.

The Shooting - Monte Hellman's poetic "acid" western starring Warren Oates and Jack Nicholson.

Gold - A really good low-key German western from 2013.

Brimstone - A solid recent western with an excellent cast.

Two Mules For Sister Sara - Eastwood's best non-Unforgiven western.

How The West Was Won - Is a pretty lackluster film but if you have a big enough screen it is quite the spectacle. And you get to see the biggest piece of miscasting in film history!


Two Mules is the one of only 2 ive seen from there, and it's been forever but i recall really enjoying it, How The West Was One felt overrated though

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