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Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

C'era una volta il West (original title)
PG-13 | | Western | 4 July 1969 (USA)
3:02 | Trailer

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A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
700 ( 28)
Top Rated Movies #30 | 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Sheriff - Auctioneer
Frank Wolff ...


Story of a young woman, Mrs. McBain, who moves from New Orleans to frontier Utah, on the very edge of the American West. She arrives to find her new husband and family slaughtered, but by whom? The prime suspect, coffee-lover Cheyenne, befriends her and offers to go after the real killer, assassin gang leader Frank, in her honor. He is accompanied by Harmonica, a man already on a quest to get even. Written by DrGoodBeat / edited by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There were three men in her life. One to take her... one to love her... and one to kill her.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for western violence and brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

4 July 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in the West  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(international) | (1970) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

| (2003 DVD release)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Co-writer Bernardo Bertolucci says on the film's DVD that when he first suggested to director Sergio Leone that the film's central character be a woman, Leone was hesitant. Leone first budged on this subject by suggesting the introductory shot of Jill would be from below the train platform so the camera could see under Jill's dress and show she wasn't wearing any undergarments. Claudia Cardinale says she was never told this idea and says she probably wouldn't have agreed to be in the movie if it required this shot (suggesting that Leone, mercifully, gave up on the idea in the writing process). See more »


The train's box cars have four wheels, a rounded roof, and other features more akin to European railroad practice. The passenger cars have a more American appearance, but feature buffer and chain couplers which were not used on US railroads. The locomotive, though fitted with a bell, cowcatcher, and other applications seen on American engines, has a plate frame, whereas American engines have bar frames. See more »


[first lines]
Cattle Corner Station Agent: Hey. Hey-hey-hey-hey, if you want any tickets, you'll have to go around, eh, to, eh, the front of, eh, eh... oooh, well, I s'pose it'll be all right. The hell am *I* doin' around here if they walk in and can do as they damn please?
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Crazy Credits

Lionel Stander receives on screen credit in the original U.S. theatre release prints even though his part was completely cut out of this shortened version. See more »


Referenced in The Mummy Returns (2001) See more »


C'era una volta il West
Vocals: Edda (Edda Dell'Orso)
Choir :Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni
Composed, Orchestrated and Conducted by Ennio Morricone
Published by RCA Italiana S.p.A., Universal Music Publishing Ricordi srl
(P) 1969 Sergio Leone Productions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Best Western of All Time bar none!
31 January 2001 | by (Vancouver, Canada) – See all my reviews

The "fourth" and best of Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy, 'Once Upon A Time In The West' is a sprawling, operatic masterpiece of cinematography. The languid pacing only accentuates the meticulously presented scenes and the Ennio Morricone score is powerful, poignant and haunting. Each major character has his own musical theme. Henry Fonda's character has a menacing and jarring score which chills and thrills me every time I hear it (I bought the soundtrack too!). Fonda as Frank is the "coldest villain in screen history" as I have read in other reviews and was cast against type in this film. When the camera pans up into his passionless blue eyes early in the movie, one sees what a brilliant piece of casting it was to have him as the villain. This movie is a metaphor on the death of The Old West and the final word on how a (spaghetti) Western should be. Not to be missed!

109 of 193 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Would someone care to explain all the hype? fishncheez
Reason Frank's guys were there to kill Harmonica? DoctorKingSchultz
Repetitive and boring nickcluxton
Your favorite moment/scene? SeaHorseMafia
The Most Hated Movie among the IMDB Top 25 Movies hspraj
Sounded more like a saxophone or trumpet than a harmonica... rocknroll8484
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