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ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) - A Fistful of Westerns: A Spaghetti Western Celebration


In the 1960s, from the depths of Italian exploitation cinema, which had long reworked American genres, came a new way of appreciating that most American of films : the western. In the late 1960s, almost half of the films produced in Italy were westerns. Despite a ‘western’ setting, these movies were never shot in America, and often featured dubbed European or English-speaking stars, and showcased a greater sense of stylish operatic violence, edgy political commentary and a twisted sense of humour than their American cousins. The cycle of spaghetti westerns lasted just a few years, but before hanging up its spurs in the 70s, it completely rewrote the genre, and introduced back to Americans a new way of experiencing a class of film that they had previously thought they owned. Sergio Leone’s 1964 A Fistful of Dollars (1964) defined the spaghetti style: from the vast desert vistas (filmed in Spain!) to the moody micro-close ups, the dance-of-death shootouts and the majestic and exotic Ennio Morricone score. It made star Clint Eastwood such an iconic gunslinging figure that he now arguably defines the image of the western over John Wayne. This summer at Deptford Cinema, ride back with us to the Italian West!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST: Probably genre-defining director Sergio Leone’s masterpiece, and widely regarded as one of the greatest westerns ever filmed, Once Upon a Time in the West finally saw Leone embrace real American west locations for the shoot, even as its plot indicates that this is actually a goodbye to the genre from a director who did so much to elevate it critically. Co-written by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci, Once upon a Time in the West elegantly merges the classicism of John Ford and the revisionist tastes of Sam Peckinpah whilst showcasing that unmistakable coordination of sound, score and image that is all Leone. Hollywood legend Henry Fonda, in a fine piece of against-type casting, is the blue-eyed killer dressed all in black, Claudia Cardinale is the tough widow fighting for her land against railway developers, Jason Robards is a wily and unpredictable outlaw who could be the widow's ally or foe, and Charles Bronson is the wildcard who has ridden into town...a harmonica-playing loner with a fast draw and a score to settle.

  • dir: Sergio Leone
  • Year: 1968
  • country: Italy |USA
  • run-time: 144m.
  • rating: 18

£6.00 (£4.50 conc.)

Doors 19:00 - Film 19:30

Later Event: August 15
LIFE DRAWING at Deptford Cinema