Author Topic: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019  (Read 11900 times)

smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2019, 05:10:21 PM »
A Fistful of Dollars         8/10

This was pretty easy viewing. Every scene accomplishes something. Eastwood is either storing information or using information. You don't always know at the time what the information is good for, but everything seems to pay off in a satisfying and poetic way.

Leone seems to love the effect of a shrill sound cutting through the western ambience. In this film it is a clanging church bell, and also a wimpering boy in a different scene. In A Few Dollars More it is the pocket watch, in Once Upon a Time in the West it is the squeaking windmill or the harmonica. I have not seen Yojimbo (which you mentioned Antares), but if it is true that Leone drew from Japanese samurai films, perhaps in on one of them there was a Buddhist monk ringing a gong, and he liked the effect, and found a way to carry that into westerns. I believe it's meant to focus your mind, which I find it does, so I like it. There's a reason monks ring a gong... and it's not just because they like that note. :)

I agree that the cemetary part with the two dead men is stupid. Stupid that anyone actually falls for it. Had it been lit differently, or maybe had there been more to obscure them from view I could have bought it.

I appreciated that when Eastwood gets beat up in the film he doesn't have Wolverine-like recovery speed, like you see in some films. So many fight sequences feature the hero getting soccer kicked in the ribs while they're down... something that would probably break their ribs. Or they take shots that would definitely give them a concussion, but they carry on without issue. This felt pretty honest.

Tongue and groove? Suspiciously intricate woodworking on an otherwise rudimentary coffin.

Too much day for night in this movie. Ugly.

Eastwood racing back to town to try and get there before the Rojo's is elevated into something epic thanks to the score. One of the films great moments. Felt like something out of Lord of the Rings briefly.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 05:12:03 PM by smirnoff »

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2019, 10:30:30 PM »
For a Few Dollars More (1965) 77/100 – I’ve always felt that this was a worthy sequel to Leone’s first outing A Fistful of Dollars. But whereas, that film was “adapted” from an outstanding screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Leone’s first attempt has troubles with pacing and some murky plot lines.
Hard to be critical of Leone's pacing. I get it, scenes like when they're scoping out the bank or the ride out after the robbery could be tightened, but that's Leone. If that has trouble with pacing, what about Once Upon a Time in the West? That has an entire opening dedicated to slowing down your expected rhythm and still there are some scenes that become unbearably drawn out.
But what holds it back is its length, which could have easily come in at less than 1:50 minutes.
Yes, but I could slice 30 minutes out of GBU, and I'm talking the theatrical release. That's Leone.

As for murk, the script is one I used in college to learn how to write. I might've self-corrected during that process but there are few films where I understand the plot better than this one.

A few changes here and there and it probably would be considered a bonafide classic of the Spaghetti western genre.
If this isn't, then what are your Top 5 Classics of the Spag-west genre?

A better choice to play the villain, as Volonte is almost cartoonish at times.
Clint and LVC are playing super warriors. It's appropriate for Volonte to be an outsized villain.

Morricone’s score is once again, every bit as important as any of the characters. It’s fluid, and when the need arises, subtle in its conveyance of the atmosphere and mood of the story.
Many consider GBU or OUATITW peak Morricone, but that musical pocket watch is what puts this at the top. The transition to pipe organ at the climax is a bit much, but that's a nitpick.

One thing I did notice this time, which I never noticed in my previous viewings, was one mistake Leone made in the screenplay, concerning the El Paso bank robbery. When Mortimer uses the acid to open the safe, and opens the heavy safe door, Leone goes in for a close up of the contents. If you look closely, most of the paper cash is Confederate notes, which would be worthless eventually. There’s no time frame associated to any of the story, so I can’t understand why Leone chose to do this. There’s no mention of the American Civil War in the plot, so it seems out of place in the screenplay.
I wonder if this mistake was made at the script level or if that's the only kind of currency the prop department could get for the scene.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #32 on: March 05, 2019, 10:59:21 PM »

Westward the Women (1951)
"You think you'll find 150 women who will come across hell to marry a bunch like that?
You think these good men will marry those good women once they get here?"

Last month when I marathoned William A. Wellman, I passed on this one because I already had a full plate, figuring if there was the Western Marathon I would come back to it. Well, thank you Sandy for hosting and giving me one of the best films I'll probably see this year. A viewing which benefitted from not being crammed in with a number of other titles because it's the kind of film you want to sit with for awhile and admire just how well made it is.

Brilliant premise. A California ranch owner (western vet John McIntire) has spent years settling the land with his 100 men, and now everyone is ready to settle down with families. A veteran trail guide (Robert Taylor at his peak) is overpaid to bring 150 wannabe brides west from Chicago - Taylor figures a third of them won't survive the months-long trip - assisted by 15 men who laugh off the idea that these women are not to be messed with. ("On most trains, the law is twenty lashes. On my train it's a bullet.")

Wellman promises hell and he delivers. What keeps it from being dreary is watching the women harden and learn along the way until the men become unnecessary. You see the journey wear people thin and toughen them up. This makes the ultimate destination even more interesting because the ranchers aren't getting a bunch of dainty ladies, but partners who can take the reins and work the land just as well. A number of scenes are as good as you expect, but the peak scenes are a directorial tour-de-force. Some of the best work Wellman's ever done. 

1. The Ox-Bow Incident
2. Westward the Women

RATING: ★ ★ ★ - Very Good


Mrs. 1SO (who also loved it) added that this is a film that plays even better now than it probably did back then.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 01:44:24 PM by 1SO »

smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2019, 02:53:03 PM »
For a Few Dollars More

I really hate having to sit through drug-fueled hazes.

I don't mind Indio as a villain, except for these flashbacks and watching him in a stupor. I've never liked those parts and they slow everything down and I just wish they would hurry up and be over. Repeating it and lengthening it just makes it worse. There is enough information in the existing dialogue to get the gist of things, so I don't feel they are essential to the film.

This film is more of an uneven experience for me. There are more great moments and higher highs than the previous film, but also more scenes that drag and don't feel like we're advancing anything. In Fistful, I can't think of any scenes that did not feature Eastwood. If we were with the Baxters, Eastwood was there. If we were with the Rojo's, Eastwood was there. In this film, there are several long scenes where neither Eastwood nor Van Cleef is present, and for me those scenes just did not have the interest value of the other scenes. It's just not that important to me to understand what crazy thoughts are going through crazy-Indio's head. His long villainous monologues were tiresome.

Every scene with Eastwood and Van Cleef is a great scene though, which makes it a nearly great film. Van Cleef is just the best. I love his look and his gadgety arsenal. I love his "system" and his pipe smoking ways. Pairing him and Eastwood is so satisfying.

Very renaissance-like composition.


Corndog

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2019, 03:28:27 PM »
The Moonlighter (Roy Rowland, 1953)

At last, we get another pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray after their masterpiece Double Indemnity! Unfortunately for us, it’s in a mediocre Western trying to use the gimmick of 3-Dimension! to bring in and excite an audience. Honestly, the 50s 3-D movement is weird to me. I’ve seen a handful of films billed with the 3-D, including the next film in this westerns marathon, Hondo, and the Alfred Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder. What must that experience have been like? When they brought back the 3-D technology in this millenium, I was certainly skeptical, with it often used in very gimmicky ways, and often done in a headache inducing manner. It has come a long way since even a decade ago, but what about half a century ago!? I can only imagine.

So MacMurray is the titular “moonlighter”, which is a term for a criminal who goes into ranches and rustles cattle by the moonlight, making away with ranchers prized heads in the cloak of night. Wes Anderson, as he is named (I know, right?) has been captured and while he sits in a jail cell, the sheriff attempts to fend off a lynch mob dead set on hanging him. Due to some slick, unintentional mix-ups, another man, in for vagrancy, fills the knot meant for Anderson, allowing him to escape. Anderson makes his way back home, where he soon discovers his girl (Barbara Stanwyck) is now his brother Tom’s beau (William Ching). But after Tom is fired by the bank, he joins with his brother Wes and his partner in crime (Ward Bond) in relieving the bank of its funds, which leads to even more troubles for the Anderson clan.

Writing, and I imagine reading, that synopsis is immediate proof that there is too much going on here. For one, it felt as though screenwriter Niven Busch came across the term “moonlighter” and decided to make a movie about it. It’s mentioned far too often throughout with a “hey guys, isn’t this a cool thing” feeling. The jail house swap and Wes’ subsequent remorse is a far more fascinating theme than that of Wes coming home to steal his girl back and rob a bank. This turn in the narrative was way too safe and standard as far as westerns go, which, as you can imagine, results in the mediocre film we get.

MacMurray is fine in the lead role, as is Ward Bond, though he’s always been a little insignificant. Not great, but rarely bad. Stanwyck is the real disappointment here, but that is more the scripts fault than her performance. Stanwyck is hardly given anything to do here, but when she does appear she is good as ever. I honestly can’t think of many shots throughout the film where the 3-D effect would have been important, other than perhaps the opening credits. There is a location utilized late in the film, a rather impressive and stunning waterfall location which might add some depth to the technology, but again, my curiosity about this concept during the 50s continues. I’d love to actually see it, and read a little more about it.

But back to the ending, even though that waterfall was stunning, it felt a little underutilized for how wonderful that location was. Similarly, there is a shootout scene between two fo the characters which could have been a great opportunity to build tension and suspense, but director Roy Rowland plays it so safe that the scene is just okay. And that’d be a pretty good way to describe the whole affair. The direction is very safe and unexciting, and the screenplay is either trying to hard or not enough, I can’t decide. But regardless, the result is a sub-par western which wastes the talents of its cast. MacMurray and Stanwyck deserve a little better than this. It’s not offensive by any means, but instantly forgettable.

★★ - Didn't Like It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2019, 04:41:48 PM »
I had to look up my review to remind myself what happened.

I have nothing good to say about Hondo. As for the 3D, there's one shot that's clearly an add in to put into the marketing (which they did) to help sell the gimmick.

I had the same reaction to Wes Anderson. You have another film coming up this month with a kid named "Michael Jackson." Ward Bond is usually mentioned as the ultimate "that guy" especially in Westerns, but there is a small list of Westerns where he makes a significant impression.
Canyon Passage
Dakota
The Halliday Brand
The Searchers
Only the Valiant

You only have one more opportunity to see some good Barbara Stanwyck, The Violent Men (1955), with Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford. Some will tell you there's Forty Guns (1957) to look forward to, but the rest of that film works against her. Sadly, neither gives her as much to chew on as The Furies.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2019, 04:53:21 PM »
Van Cleef is just the best. I love his look and his gadgety arsenal.
You forgot the gif.



For a Few Dollars More is the most badass film ever made.
Clint Eastwood plays poker like a badass.
Leone cuts from Indio laughing to the wanted poster like a badass.
Klaus Kinski has a hump and acts like a badass.

smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2019, 05:13:05 PM »
Van Cleef is just the best. I love his look and his gadgety arsenal.
You forgot the gif.
One of the best parts for sure.

Quote
Leone cuts from Indio laughing to the wanted poster like a badass.
Great moment.

Quote
Klaus Kinski has a hump and acts like a badass.
I couldn't wait for him to get shot. :)

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2019, 09:20:26 PM »
Do you know about A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975)? Leone directed the opening scene, which is basically a really long set up to a Leone-style punchline.

Never heard of it until you linked it. I looked it up on IMDB, and it stated that the film was a comedy. So when he gets pincushioned with the arrows, and you mentioned punchline, I was expecting a Leone homage to Looney Tunes cartoons, and he grabs the pitcher of water, drinks it, and it springs forth from the arrow holes.

As for For a Few Dollars More, I had a really hard time putting my thoughts down into words, because I've found it kind of meh. So my review is mainly meh too. It just doesn't grab me, like the other Leone's.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 09:22:54 PM by Antares »
Masterpiece (100-91) | Classic (90-80) | Entertaining (79-69) | Mediocre (68-58) | Cinemuck (57-21) | Crap (20-0)

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2019, 09:27:51 PM »
As for For a Few Dollars More, I had a really hard time putting my thoughts down into words, because I've found it kind of meh. So my review is mainly meh too. It just doesn't grab me, like the other Leone's.
It's the one that's held up the best for me over the years.

 

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