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Film: An operatic Western




Once Upon a Time In the West, Sergio Leone's legendary 1968 opus, had to suffer its share of fools (lightly and otherwise) upon its initial stateside release (and it certainly didn't help that the studio chopped 25 minutes out of its 165-minute length), but the picture has stood the test of time so well that it's now rightly regarded as one of the greatest of all screen Westerns. Eventually restored to its original length, Leone's operatic oater remains notable for a number of achievements, including the casting of Hollywood hero Henry Fonda as a cold-blooded killer, the film's ability to serve as an elegy for both the passing of the Old West and the passing of the Western (which would fall out of favor with audiences over the ensuing decade), and the masterful way in which the visuals match up beautifully with Ennio Morricone's exceptional score (indeed, Morricone composed his music before Leone began filming). Claudia Cardinale, so popular at the time that she receives top billing, plays a reformed prostitute whose attempt at a new life is hampered by the machinations of hired gunman Fonda; also figuring into the action are the gabby, good-natured outlaw Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and The Man (Charles Bronson, in the role that made him a superstar in Europe), a taciturn cowboy who lets his harmonica and pistol do most of his talking. The film is being shown as part of the Main Library's annual summer film series.

Free. 2 p.m. ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. 704-416-0252.


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