Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#126 Post by Nothing » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:10 am

The thing is, personal testimonies of recollections from 20 or 30 or 40 years ago tend to be unreliable, especially in regards to whether or not a brief and fairly insignificant scene was present in a print seen once. The data on the BBFC's website, on the other hand, is tangible evidence, taken from their precise written records. Now... I suppose (maybe) it is possible that they incorrectly copied the data from the 1982 certification in regards to the earlier 1969 one (the print length is identical, so it's possible)... But the BBFC is a publically accountable organisation, so if we could come up with enough actual evidence to contradict their data I imagine they would feel obliged to investigate - although an internet quote from someone in Holland won't do it, funnily enough!

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#127 Post by Lighthouse » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:24 am

Nothing wrote:The thing is, personal testimonies of recollections from 20 or 30 or 40 years ago tend to be unreliable, especially in regards to whether or not a brief and fairly insignificant scene was present in a print seen once. The data on the BBFC's website, on the other hand, is tangible evidence, taken from their precise written records. Now... I suppose (maybe) it is possible that they incorrectly copied the data from the 1982 certification in regards to the earlier 1969 one (the print length is identical, so it's possible)... But the BBFC is a publically accountable organisation, so if we could come up with enough actual evidence to contradict their data I imagine they would feel obliged to investigate - although an internet quote from someone in Holland won't do it, funnily enough!
This guy is actually doing a lot of research work for the Spaghetti Western Data Base, and he is writing a lot of informed reviews. And he has seen OUTW very often. Just like I did. And I'm 100 % sure that I never have seen this Rising scene before the 177 min version appeared in the late 90s. He wouldn't write this if he wasn't sure about it. He has even seen the short version again later:
I have seen a shorter version much later in Antwerp (about '82-'83), the 'tavern scene' when Harmonica and Cheyenne meet for the first time wasn't in it, but I don't remember if the rising scene had been re-inserted

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#128 Post by Nothing » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:26 am

I'd say that if we can assemble at least three tangible published sources pertaining to a release of the 144m version in the UK then there'd be enough reason to raise the matter with the BBFC. Here's one, btw, a transcript of a 1971 NFT interview with Graham Greene from Frayling's Sergio Leone biography:

AUDIENCE MEMBER:you suggest Once Upon a Time in the West as one of the best films of the decade... Do you not really take film seriously as you did once?
GREENE: I take it seriously, and I take Once Upon a Time in the West seriously.
INTERVIEWER: Could I just interrupt: Mr. Greene saw it in France, which I think was a completely different version from the one we saw - ours was a much shortened version.

However - note the "I think" in that sentence (and it's not even clear if the interviewer has actually seen the film). And, of course, we know for a fact that a full-length English language version existed, as it premiered in NY in May 1969, so perhaps the point is moot... At the very latest, even if we distrust the BBFC's 1969 figure, the theatrical version included on the Bluray was screening in the UK by 1982 - still within Leone's lifetime.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#129 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:25 pm

Did Greene find Cardinale to be a complete hotsy?

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#130 Post by Lighthouse » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:26 pm

I asked in another forum, and got so far only one reply:
Viewed a print at a cinema here in the U.K in the 80's, they used to screen alot of older films. Anyway that was the chopped up 145 min version.
If Frayling had seen a longer version already in England it is pretty unlikely that he didn't made clear that the UK version is not the same as the US version. But he gives in both his books from 1982 and 2000 the runtime with 145 min. And from a German book: Great Britain ca 144 min (cinema Paramount 1969 12.960 ft)

Phew, here's another thing directly taken from the Italian DVD:
This is the uncut version the Director wanted, never released in the movie houses. Among others this restoration involved Tonino Delli Colli, Ennio Morricone, Sergio Leone Production, C.S.C. and Cineteca Nazionale.
Now if that is true, then it would be the long Italian version which is the true DC. With the Rising scene, and with the Cheyenne theme played at the end of the movie (but it comes later than on the Paramount DVD)
And if Delli Colli was involved we must assume that the colors of the Italian DVD are the ones they wanted. (Only that imo the Paramount DVD looks better)

And of course the question is still, why did Scorsese not use the long version, when he made another restoration of the film?

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#131 Post by Peacock » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:26 pm

Possibly because a line on the back of a dvd which promotes it as the best edition available, isn't necessarily the most unbiased source of information.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#132 Post by Nothing » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:20 pm

There do seem to be quite a few people who think the chopped version has been shown in the UK, although this is distinctly odd, given the BBFC's records. Perhaps these were private cinema club screenings from a US print, or perhaps the BBFC have somehow got it wrong.
Italian DVD wrote:This is the uncut version the Director wanted, never released in the movie houses. Among others this restoration involved Tonino Delli Colli, Ennio Morricone, Sergio Leone Production, C.S.C. and Cineteca Nazionale.
I'd take that with a HUGE pinch of salt, given that:
a/ Morricone's score in the final flashback is butchered on the Italian DVD, there is literally a huge jagged jump in the music, I find it impossible to believe he would have approved this.
b/ The first Italian DVD release to carry this claim was also cropped to 16:9! Would Delli Colli have approved that too?!
c/ The recent Scorsese restoration was undertaken with the full and documented assistance of Leone's people in Italy and it looks nothing like the Italian DVD.
d/ Note the use of the word 'involved', rather than 'approved'. This could mean anything, really - and, uh, it's not unusual in Italy to play hard and fast with the truth where commerce is involved...

Certainly, Frayling wasn't convinced, and obviously neither was Scorsese.

I'm thinking now that the Italian DVD may represent some kind of rough cut that was unearthed in an attic, with the owner/discoverer trying to hype it for all it's worth. This version almost certainly exists only as a print and does not conform to the original negative - so the difference between the released Italian version and the final US version therefore remains inconclusive, as the former never seems to have received a home video release.

Again, I'll add that it is definitely a shame they didn't include a short new documentary on the BD pertaining to the new restoration and the variant versions of the film.

Incidentally, to return to an earlier point, Fralying doesn't comment on the dubbing of OUATITW in his 2000 biography, however he does make extensive reference to the English dubbing of TGTB&TU in Los Angeles, with Leone in full attendence, so it was clearly a part of his post-production process by then. The biography also notes that, from For a Few Dollars More onwards, actors were contractually obliged to deliver their lines in English on set (although this didn't always happen). Oh, and Leone spoke English himself by the time of the 2nd or 3rd Dollars film.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#133 Post by Lighthouse » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:03 am

I agree with you that the long version seems to be comparatively rough in places.

There is even one scene with Wobbles in his laundry in which the Cheyenne theme is still played from the previous scene, until it pretty abruptly ends when Jill enters the store. This scene is without music in all other versions, and would be then the only one in which the Cheyenne theme is played without having Cheyenne in it.

And again from a German book from 2009:
It is controversial, if this is the from Leone intended version
Which means there is probably some discussion about this in Italy (or elsewhere)

You can read the Video Watchdog article (which I had mentioned in one of my posts), which gives detailed insight why the Paramount DVD is not the original US version. It confirms everything I know and everything I only had assumed.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#134 Post by cinemartin » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:11 pm

Great article. Thanks for finally tracking it down.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#135 Post by Nothing » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:57 pm

As I recall, Frayling was none too happy with that article, and not just b/c of the petty attacks about what he should or shouln't have said on the commentary track.

Much space is given to the state of various 16mm reduction prints loaned out to American universities during the 1970s - to which one has to say, frankly, who cares. All that we're interested in here is the original English Language version, the version that the writer claims to have seen at the age of 15, and, for that, all we have is his forty year old recollection. Indeed, Frayling's account would seem to dispute the possibility of the writer ever having seen the US premiere version at all: The writer says he saw it six times in Chicago, whereas, according to Frayling's biography, "the film was withdrawn and recut after its lukewarm reception at New York previews." This isn't the only inaccuracy in the article, either: the writer states that the budget of the film was $6m, whereas Frayling has it down as $3m.

But let's say we give the writer the benefit of the doubt and accept that he saw the film in Chicago in 1969 some way somehow... Despite this forty year gap, he seems to be awfully precise - right down to the second! - about what is missing from the original print, does he not? And where do these timings come from?... Surprise! From the 177m version on the Italian DVD... A version which we know was never released in the United States, or probably anywhere else. And with that imho, his credibility goes completely out the window.

The writer does offer up one useful piece of tangible evidence: he says that the original US pressbook from the previews stated a running time of 165m. According to the writer, this didn't include 2m32s of Exit Music. Now... Hang on a minute... The actual running time of the 'Theatrical Version' on the DVD, according to the article, is 164m40s (round this up = 165m). Add to that 2m32s of exit music and you arrive at... 167m12s. Which is EXTREMELY close to the BBFC's recorded running time of 167m06s. So close that I'd be willing to bet this is the very same version that was certified by the BBFC in 1982, two years before the US restoration/re-release, and also in 1969 (although there seems to be some anecdotal evidence to contest the latter). So, whereas the writer attacks Frayling, et al, for being at too far of a remove in England, the evidence would suggest that the full version of the film has been much more readily available in the UK than in the US prior to the 1984 US re-release.

Which brings us back to the main charge: that the theatrical version in circulation since 1984 may conveniently carry the same running time as the 1969 US premiere version, but that it omits footage from the opening scene whilst re-instating the 'Rising Scene', and muffs the timing of the end titles by mixing in the exit music whilst the film is still running. Well... the BBFC's records would seem to support the latter, and it wasn't until 2000 that they certified the shorter 165m print. As for the rest... I still don't think there's anything conclusive in this article. And we do know (from the interview you quoted earlier) that the Rising Scene was in Leone's personal print, so it's somewhat hard to contest its inclusion. Also, Leone was still alive and kicking in 1984, so are we to believe that he wouldn't have signed off on a major restoration and re-release of one of his most important films?

In any case, if you do want to see the film with an additional minute of footage at the beginning (footage which adds nothing except a couple of longeurs and some questionable acting, imho) then the Scorsese version is for you...

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#136 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:25 am

That article does seem overly and weirdly combative- the quantity of sniping at Frayling, not for actually getting anything wrong, but for failing to say what the author of the article would like to have said at some particular spot, is absurd. The missed music cue at the end does seem both plausible and worth pointing out, though- I'm assuming that wasn't altered in any way for the Blu?
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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#137 Post by Nothing » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:08 am

No, the 'Theatrical' and 'Restored' versions on the BD have identical end credits.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#138 Post by Lighthouse » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:59 am

Nothing wrote:As I recall, Frayling was none too happy with that article, and not just b/c of the petty attacks about what he should or shouln't have said on the commentary track.

Much space is given to the state of various 16mm reduction prints loaned out to American universities during the 1970s - to which one has to say, frankly, who cares. All that we're interested in here is the original English Language version, the version that the writer claims to have seen at the age of 15, and, for that, all we have is his forty year old recollection. Indeed, Frayling's account would seem to dispute the possibility of the writer ever having seen the US premiere version at all: The writer says he saw it six times in Chicago, whereas, according to Frayling's biography, "the film was withdrawn and recut after its lukewarm reception at New York previews." This isn't the only inaccuracy in the article, either: the writer states that the budget of the film was $6m, whereas Frayling has it down as $3m.

But let's say we give the writer the benefit of the doubt and accept that he saw the film in Chicago in 1969 some way somehow... Despite this forty year gap, he seems to be awfully precise - right down to the second! - about what is missing from the original print, does he not? And where do these timings come from?... Surprise! From the 177m version on the Italian DVD... A version which we know was never released in the United States, or probably anywhere else. And with that imho, his credibility goes completely out the window.

The writer does offer up one useful piece of tangible evidence: he says that the original US pressbook from the previews stated a running time of 165m. According to the writer, this didn't include 2m32s of Exit Music. Now... Hang on a minute... The actual running time of the 'Theatrical Version' on the DVD, according to the article, is 164m40s (round this up = 165m). Add to that 2m32s of exit music and you arrive at... 167m12s. Which is EXTREMELY close to the BBFC's recorded running time of 167m06s. So close that I'd be willing to bet this is the very same version that was certified by the BBFC in 1982, two years before the US restoration/re-release, and also in 1969 (although there seems to be some anecdotal evidence to contest the latter). So, whereas the writer attacks Frayling, et al, for being at too far of a remove in England, the evidence would suggest that the full version of the film has been much more readily available in the UK than in the US prior to the 1984 US re-release.

Which brings us back to the main charge: that the theatrical version in circulation since 1984 may conveniently carry the same running time as the 1969 US premiere version, but that it omits footage from the opening scene whilst re-instating the 'Rising Scene', and muffs the timing of the end titles by mixing in the exit music whilst the film is still running. Well... the BBFC's records would seem to support the latter, and it wasn't until 2000 that they certified the shorter 165m print. As for the rest... I still don't think there's anything conclusive in this article. And we do know (from the interview you quoted earlier) that the Rising Scene was in Leone's personal print, so it's somewhat hard to contest its inclusion. Also, Leone was still alive and kicking in 1984, so are we to believe that he wouldn't have signed off on a major restoration and re-release of one of his most important films?

In any case, if you do want to see the film with an additional minute of footage at the beginning (footage which adds nothing except a couple of longeurs and some questionable acting, imho) then the Scorsese version is for you...
Well, I was sure you were saying something like this. It seems you take everything in doubt that others say, but you have no doubts about the sources you cite for your theory.

1. Frayling's book is no bible and contains also wrong informations, and he also takes informations from other sources, which must not always be totally accurate.

2. What he says about the 6 mio budget is probably wrong. He also says interestingly that Paramount gave only one third of the money (but I don't know where he got this from, but maybe from the paramount guy he spoke with)

3. He never said that the 177 min version was released in the US for the original premiere version. He says it was the 165 min or the 167 min version, whichs only difference is the exit music. The conclusion still is, and that is what I assumed, Paramount tinkered so long with that version that they lost track what should be in, and what not. The original US version was the same as the Italian release version, and is the same as the German release version (minus the exit music). And it has indeed a runtime of about 164 min and 40 sec. about 25 sec shorter than the Paramount DVD, because it contains about 70 sec more for the first scene and never had the 94 sec of the Rising scene.
The British runtime only confirms this. It is indeed the same version, but without the Rising scene.

4. I think this guy may have seen the film 50 or 100 times. Maybe more. And he had direct access to some of the copies. Maybe he made for himself notes about the differences. So that he knows some things for sure, and it is not only his memory.

5. He made a very detailed description how all this could happen, so it is not very fair to say everything is simply wrong, cause you don't want to believe it.
I appreciate your engagement for the Paramount disc, but why don't you question also your own sources, the way you are questioning other sources.

And let me say this again, the Paramount disc is very good, but it is not the perfect version.
matrixschmatrix wrote:That article does seem overly and weirdly combative- the quantity of sniping at Frayling, not for actually getting anything wrong, but for failing to say what the author of the article would like to have said at some particular spot, is absurd. The missed music cue at the end does seem both plausible and worth pointing out, though- I'm assuming that wasn't altered in any way for the Blu?
I don't think he is combative towards Frayling, he is very positive about Frayling and his books, but he is also a bit disappointed about his audio comentary. And he is not the only one. I have read this more often in the net, and I noticed that too. For all his knowledge he really does too often only describe what I alrerady see on the screen.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#139 Post by Lighthouse » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:23 am

Nothing wrote:In any case, if you do want to see the film with an additional minute of footage at the beginning (footage which adds nothing except a couple of longeurs and some questionable acting, imho) then the Scorsese version is for you...
Here again I have a different view. The first scene is a carefully constructed symphony of noises. If you cut out some of the repeating shots of the dropping water and the crackling bones of the hand you destroy a part of it. And there is indeed some tension lost in the shots after the train has arrived. The scene is about the monotony of waiting, and the Paramount DVD is here too fast. In this case I would even prefer the 177 min version, which is 100 sec longer for the beginning.

Frankly said, if you would have seen and enjoyed OUTW for 20 years without the Rising scene, I'm somehow sure, as you don't belong to the "the longer the better" fraction, you would probably be disappointed too if you then see a version with this very scene.

And here we have some funny quote from the booklet of the Paramount 2 DVD. Written by a guy named Trevor Wilsmer. I tried to translate it from my German booklet:
The biggest harm done to the film about the men who have something to do with death was the cutting of Cheyenne's death scene and the adding of a short sequence in which Harmonica stands up after the first shoot-out and therefore took away every doubt about his immortality
And Frayling says in his audio commentary after Cheyenne's death: "His leitmotiv has finished." Only that it reappears at the end.

The most surprising thing in the Watchdog article is actually that the Rising scene was not part of the 144 min version.
But it was probably part of the 145 min UK version as Frayling must have seen it there. And there is probably one more difference between both cut versions. Frayling describes a part of the scene was cut when Frank returns to the train just before Morton dies, while according to the Watchdog in the US version instead the scene was cut in which Jill shoots at Harmonica in the night.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#140 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:35 pm

I just got it in the mail, and as I was watching it yesterday I realized to myself how much I don't like the end credits, except the fantastic presentation of the title card. What we have instead is just that tracking shot that lingers for a few minutes while the Cheyenne theme plays out. And of course the bit showing Bronson leading Robards out on his horse, which caused a bit of confusion with the American cut because Cheyenne's brilliant death scene was removed, and anyone who stuck around to watch it assumed Harmonica killed him.

It really doesn't do much justice to how the film builds up to what may be the most cinematic showdown in the history of the medium, and the great scenes that followed it up to Jill coming out with the water. I think at that point, what would have been perfect was a fade to black at that moment followed (or run concurrently) with the aforementioned title card.
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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#141 Post by scotty2 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:44 pm

Just have to disagree. Pulling away from "civilization" and toward the vast expanses with Harmonica seems just right to me. Soon the railroad will follow him, but for now, he's still got some room to roam. I just love being able to linger on that (Spanish desert) landscape for a few minutes, to the edge of the "set" and beyond.

And it wouldn't be the film if it ended with a different shot. That's part of its signature.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#142 Post by Nothing » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:58 am

Lighthouse wrote:Well, I was sure you were saying something like this. It seems you take everything in doubt that others say, but you have no doubts about the sources you cite for your theory.
Frayling is the world's primary Leone scholar, he has devoted 30 years of his life to the study of Leone, including numerous meetings with the man himself and virtually everyone involved in the making of the films. No-one is infaliable, but I'll certainly take his version over some ranting American in Video Watchdog, ESPECIALLY when the latter uses timings from the Italian DVD rough cut to "prove" what he believes is missing from the opening sequence - this completely undermines the credibility of his argument, as I said.
Lighthouse wrote:The original US version was the same as the Italian release version, and is the same as the German release version (minus the exit music). And it has indeed a runtime of about 164 min and 40 sec. about 25 sec shorter than the Paramount DVD, because it contains about 70 sec more for the first scene and never had the 94 sec of the Rising scene. The British runtime only confirms this. It is indeed the same version, but without the Rising scene.
There's no confirmation of anything... It is the Paramount DVD that has a running time of 164m40s, according to the article (this has simply been rounded up to 165m on the packaging). And there is no credible evidence to suggest whether or not the opening scene in the US premiere version differed from the theatrical version now available - all we know, based on the original pressbook, is that the running time was the same (exit music aside).
Lighthouse wrote:I think this guy may have seen the film 50 or 100 times. Maybe more. And he had direct access to some of the copies. Maybe he made for himself notes about the differences. So that he knows some things for sure, and it is not only his memory.
According to the article, he had access to some 16mm reduction prints intended for educational use, during the 1970s, to which I again say 'so what?'...
Lighthouse wrote:I appreciate your engagement for the Paramount disc, but why don't you question also your own sources, the way you are questioning other sources.
It isn't just the Paramount disc though, is it. What we do know is that this version has been in circulation since AT LEAST 1984 (when Leone was still alive), and that's if our friend in Video Watchdog is to be believed. Any differences between this version and the earlier premiere version are purely speculative - as I say, my own recollection is of seeing an AA-Rated print two or three times during the late 80s/90s, meaning this print would date either from 1969 or (more likely) 1982, when the film was re-certified by the BBFC at 167m06s, and the only difference I can recall is the exit music going on a bit longer. I'm not going to hold up my own recollection as incontravertible proof either, but the point is that, without a print of the original premiere version for reference, we can't draw any firm conclusions.

Sure, one could argue that it's more mysterious to withold the evidence of Bronson's survival until the outpost scene.... but one could equally argue that cutting on a gunshot TWICE, ie. after the Bronson scene and then again after the Timmy scene, would create a monotonous rhythm. Apples and oranges... What we DO know, thanks to the earlier article you provided, is that the Rising Scene was in Leone's own print, so I find it hard to quibble with its inclusion.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#143 Post by murchman » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:26 am

These are the new additions to the Scorsese cut vs. the last U.S.A paramount dvd cut:

The Scorsese adds just two shots to the opening (before rising) and extends a third. After the train has arrived and the train guy throws the parcel off, there are a few shots, then Woody Strode smiles over at Jack Elam.

1. There is a NEW shot of Jack Elam smiling back
2. then a NEW shot of him drumming on his gun. A FLY buzzes around his hand. In the italian version we hear a fly buzz on this shot, here it's not there (or not as prevalent)
3. It then cuts back to the C.U. shot of Elam where he leaves frame although the beginning of that is EXTENDED and has him shaking his head before he motions to leave with a tilt of his head (and then leaves frame as in the U.S. cut).

This is similar to a sequence of shots in the extended Italian version except the long Italian version has an extra shot of the train, then an extra shot of Elam (before the holster tapping shot) in between those 3 shots. This new sequence of shots matches a sequence of shots in the old german version (which is believed to be "the original 1968 cut")

The RISING scene now has a couple extended shots.

4. When Harmonica brings his arm over to sling it, the beginning of that shot is now extended to show him moving parts of his jacket around first.
5. The last shot of the scene is also extended -he puts his gun in the bag and then the extended shot holds on his boots walking off frame (the U.S. cut ends with him picking up his bag)

This is exactly how the rising scene plays out in the extended Italian cut.

6. Just before the the CU shot of the father at the well, the daughter turns to react to the cicadas going quiet - her reaction is a second longer in the Scorsese cut (this seems odd but I checked it multiple times) The Italian cut also has the extra second.
7. Paramount logo comes up 2 or 3 seconds later at the end of the Scorsese cut

Total new footage added : 19-21 seconds. (depending if you count the new black before the paramount logo at the end- which I am)

NO other differences from beginning to end, I checked the whole thing. So they must be counting the new title card at the beginning as part of the 39 seconds- it is 18 seconds including the black between it and the paramount logo. That puts the count at 39ish seconds (close enough to 39 to have it make sense I think - I did not do exact frame counts)

So really we got 19 seconds of new footage, not 39. Why that particular 19 seconds was chosen is a mystery to me.

I actually found what I believe to be a version of the "original 1968 cut" as exactly described by the video watchdog article on YouTube - this is a German dubbed version, with Turkish subtitles, but it is definitely not the same cut as either the paramount or the Italian longer version - it HAS the 3 new Scorsese shots in the right sequence (as well as numerous other new shots in the opening), it DOES NOT have the rising scene AND the end plays out the music properly and does not freezeframe.

Opening segment with more shots then U.S. but less then the Italian (which we know to be the formula for the "original" cut) - the new shots in this cut match exactly what the video watchdog article describes as being cut from the 1968 premiere cut

End of opening segment - NO rising scene (new Scorsese shots are at :48 seconds)

End title (This person actually has the whole cut posted...)

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#144 Post by Lighthouse » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:45 pm

Nothing wrote:Frayling is the world's primary Leone scholar, he has devoted 30 years of his life to the study of Leone, including numerous meetings with the man himself and virtually everyone involved in the making of the films. No-one is infaliable, but I'll certainly take his version over some ranting American in Video Watchdog, ESPECIALLY when the latter uses timings from the Italian DVD rough cut to "prove" what he believes is missing from the opening sequence - this completely undermines the credibility of his argument, as I said.
What's the problem with the timing? He couldn't take it from the cut Paramount DVD. He only took it from the long version to show which scenes he meant. For the passage which was restored by Scorsese he mentions it the same was as it is done by Scorsese, and the same way it is in the German version, and he doesn't mention the tracking shot just before Elam tips against his holster. Because this tracking shot is only in the 177 min version and not in the version he talks about. The timing has nothing to do with what he states. It is only for illustration.
And if you believe Frayling so much why don't you believe him when he writes that the Rising scene was only added for the butchered version.
Lighthouse wrote:The original US version was the same as the Italian release version, and is the same as the German release version (minus the exit music). And it has indeed a runtime of about 164 min and 40 sec. about 25 sec shorter than the Paramount DVD, because it contains about 70 sec more for the first scene and never had the 94 sec of the Rising scene. The British runtime only confirms this. It is indeed the same version, but without the Rising scene.
There's no confirmation of anything... It is the Paramount DVD that has a running time of 164m40s, according to the article (this has simply been rounded up to 165m on the packaging). And there is no credible evidence to suggest whether or not the opening scene in the US premiere version differed from the theatrical version now available - all we know, based on the original pressbook, is that the running time was the same (exit music aside).

But it is more than 165 min with the Paramount logos on the DVD.
According to the article, he had access to some 16mm reduction prints intended for educational use, during the 1970s, to which I again say 'so what?'...
The 16 mm copies are only one more clue how the versions changed over the years. So, what's the problem with these 16 mm copies?
It isn't just the Paramount disc though, is it. What we do know is that this version has been in circulation since AT LEAST 1984 (when Leone was still alive), and that's if our friend in Video Watchdog is to be believed. Any differences between this version and the earlier premiere version are purely speculative - as I say, my own recollection is of seeing an AA-Rated print two or three times during the late 80s/90s, meaning this print would date either from 1969 or (more likely) 1982, when the film was re-certified by the BBFC at 167m06s, and the only difference I can recall is the exit music going on a bit longer. I'm not going to hold up my own recollection as incontravertible proof either, but the point is that, without a print of the original premiere version for reference, we can't draw any firm conclusions.
We don't have any proof that Leone ever cared again for what happened to OUTW in the USA after it was butchered for the 144 min version. In fact we actually have also no real proof that he cared for the English version more than any for other language version (but I would assume this)
But, yes we can't be exactly sure, but it seems that the German version is identical to the Italian version (and that it is what counts for an Italian film imo), and there are too many people who had never seen it with the Rising scene, even in English versions.
And the Video Watchdog article is too detailed too simply keep it away by calling it a rant. And the BBF runtime is (minus the exit music) actually closer to the German version than to the Paramount disc.
What we DO know, thanks to the earlier article you provided, is that the Rising Scene was in Leone's own print, so I find it hard to quibble with its inclusion.
That is now pretty inconsequent. If you take the 177 min version as proof, than you should also take it as proof for Leone wanting the first scene much longer.
I've just stumbled yesterday evening over another forum in which one guy states that the only thing he likes more in the 177 min version is the opening scene.
Cause it works better.

And why is it so important to keep that Rising scene?
You call it "fairly insignificant", what it exactly is. It doesn't add any useful informations to the story, it ain't spectacular, nor it is filmed in remarkable way (for such a film). In every long version it is completely superfluous, you can't do any better than to cut it out. ;)

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#145 Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:40 am

Okay, this is interesting. Almost certainly, this is the original continental European (incl. Italian) version of the film. As such, it's a pity it isn't on the BD, I agree. Perhaps they should also have offered an Italian audio track for those interested.

BUT... Is this also the final English language version that premiered in May 1969? That is the ultimate question, and one to which I do not believe we have an answer.
Lighthouse wrote:What's the problem with the timing[s in the Video Watchdog article]?
In regards to the US PREMIERE CUT, the writer's source is a screening he claims to have attended in Chicago when he was 15 years old. Now I'll admit, looking at the German cut of the film, I have a hard time recalling whether or not those few extras shots existed in the UK AA-Rated print that I saw around 20 years ago (the differences being so minor). Now the Video Watchdog guy is referring to a screening that occured 40 years ago, and yet he provides us with an exact to-the-second breakdown of what is missing - to say this stretches credibility is putting it mildly... No. Clearly, he is using a tape/DVD of a European cut of the film for reference - NOT his memory - and this renders his testimony questionable at best.

Consider this: if longer English titles existed, don't you think Scorsese would have used them? After all, he does use the longer version of the subsequent stand-off as the train pulls in. And if an English titled version DOESN'T exist why is that? What titles did they use in NY in May 1969 if not these? Yes, it's possible that Paramount trashed the title sequences for the longer version after they recut the film in 1969, but we don't have any evidence of that.

This is the first time I've seen the film without the rising sequence, btw - imho, the match cut is rather crass and unsubtle and knowing that harmonica is still alive and in pursuit of Frank creates suspense. It's also just a nice little coda to the scene. Agreed, however, that the film plays better with the later timing of the End Titles and without Cheyenne's theme at the end (I'd never seen this).
Lighthouse wrote:if you believe Frayling so much why don't you believe him when he writes that the Rising scene was only added for the butchered version.
Where does he say this? I don't think Frayling claims to have ever seen the US premiere cut.
Lighthouse wrote:We don't have any proof that Leone ever cared again for what happened to OUTW in the USA after it was butchered for the 144 min version. In fact we actually have also no real proof that he cared for the English version more than any for other language version
The Video Watchdog article claims that Leone paid for some of the restoration. In regards to the English version, it is notable that, even on this German dub, Mickey Knox has a dialogue credit, and of course it is the only version voiced by the original actors, and the film was produced by Paramount, set in the United States, and English was mostly spoken on set, so I don't think it's a leap to conclude that the English language version is more important than, say, the German dub.
Lighthouse wrote:If you take the 177 min version as proof, than you should also take it as proof for Leone wanting the first scene much longer.
This is assuming that Leone's print corresponded to the 177m rough cut - I don't think we can assume that.

But I think all of this basically comes back to the question of the titles. Were the optical English language titles on the current version created in 1969 or in the early 1980s? If we can answer that, the rest will probably fall into place.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#146 Post by Lighthouse » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:44 am

I asked Tom Betts, editor of Westerns all' Italiana:
I saw OUATITW when it first came out in the U.S.A. The rising scene? I'm guessing you mean when Bronson sits up after being shot by Woody Strode was not in the version I saw. I don't know when or where I saw the rising scene but most likely it was on Turner Classics or TCM TV. Bronson sits up and sticks his wounded arm out and buttons his sleeve to his jacket then it cuts away. I agree OUATITW was very slow the first few times I saw it but when you think of it as a series of scenes it is my favorite Leone film. It has everything a western fan could want and the atmosphere is terrific. To this day after dozens and dozens of times the main theme still gives me goose bumps.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#147 Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:48 am

Tom Betts wrote:I saw OUATITW when it first came out in the U.S.A.
But which version? The NY Premiere cut or the version which went on general release? Far more likely to be the latter...

Ultimately, I suppose one might conclude that the film has been released in so many different versions in different countries over the years that it's virtually impossible to verify what constitutes the 'ultimate, final' cut - and that these minor 165-167m variations really don't matter in the wider scheme of things anyway.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#148 Post by murchman » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:06 am

Nothing wrote:
Lighthouse wrote:If you take the 177 min version as proof, than you should also take it as proof for Leone wanting the first scene much longer.
This is assuming that Leone's print corresponded to the 177m rough cut - I don't think we can assume that.

But I think all of this basically comes back to the question of the titles. Were the optical English language titles on the current version created in 1969 or in the early 1980s? If we can answer that, the rest will probably fall into place.
You make some good points, but consider this: The titles themselves do not appear over any unique shots in ANY version. That is to say, neither the german cut nor the 177 min italian cut has a title over a new shot that is not in the paramount cut. Of course, there are differences in placement within the frame (Claudia Cardinale credit appears on a different side of frame in german titles), and the italian 177 min has slightly different timings (Jack Elam title is over 2 shots instead of one). It might be that Paramount simply removed shots that didn't have titles on them, thus they didn't have to redo any opticals. Also because the sequence has no music, they would have been easy lifts to make.

There is one strange thing that could be evidence of tinkering in the 80's - the Paramount cut has an odd overlap from the first title (over black background-"a sergio leone film") into the next shot of Woody strode and his hat - the "sergio leone film" title continues over that shot for about two frames - which looks to me like a mistake. This exists in the paramount cut only- the italian and german differ by having a different shot altogether (Al mulloch) after that credit, but there is no overlap.

I don't know enough about optical printing to really lean one side or the other, but I'm doubtful the overlap on that shot was intentional, or that Paramount would create a new optical in 1969 just to do that...

***edit** just noticed that they fixed the "a sergio leone film" title overlap on the new Scorsese print - so obviously it WAS a mistake

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#149 Post by Lighthouse » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:47 pm

Nothing wrote:
Tom Betts wrote:I saw OUATITW when it first came out in the U.S.A.
But which version? The NY Premiere cut or the version which went on general release? Far more likely to be the latter...

Ultimately, I suppose one might conclude that the film has been released in so many different versions in different countries over the years that it's virtually impossible to verify what constitutes the 'ultimate, final' cut - and that these minor 165-167m variations really don't matter in the wider scheme of things anyway.
I said this in my first post here. The film is a masterpiece in all 165 min versions and also in the 177 min version. We are not talking here about damages like cutting the trading post or the Cheyenne death scene.

At the moment we still don't know if the 177 min version is or is not Leone's favoured version. This has still to be clarified.
But for the theatrical versions, after all I have researched and found and posted here, the conclusion can most likely only be another one. There was only one version which was released in Italy, which was released in Germany, which premiered in NY, which was rated in England. And all other versions (except the 177 min one) were rebuild from this version by cutting scenes and shots, by changing the score, and by adding one scene.

We can't be 100 % sure, but I see not much reason why it should be not like described above.

I asked Tom btw. It was indeed the short version. Which at least confirms that the short version did not include the Rising scene when it first was released.

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Re: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

#150 Post by murchman » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:17 pm

I also agree it's a masterpiece, otherwise why be so adamant about restoring it properly. The fact is, Scorsese and co. used some sort of original/alternate print to (a) fix the title overlap mistake (b) add a sequence of shots which matches exactly the old german print (and NOT the 177 min print) (c) add 1 second to a shot in the massacre scene. Why add some new shots and not others, when clearly there are historical versions out there which point the way to a more accurate representation of what Leone wanted (at least what he wanted *released* - I view the 177 min cut as a "workprint").

Then not only do they not delete the rising scene, but they actually use a version where it is longer? The italian print has a credit-less end shot they could have used as a background to fix both the music and the credits. Basically this whole discussion for me is about how we have yet to get a proper and complete version of the film as it was intended (for release) in 1968. All this money has been spent to put out a new blu-ray and it's still not right. Re-constructing that cut is not a mammoth task. Perhaps the italians were not willing to share elements, who knows. 25+ years of video releases and they still haven't gotten it right.

That youtube link to the german version has no deleted shots in the opening, (I am not counting the additional sprinkling of extra shots in the 177 min as ones that belong there), doesn't have the added rising scene AND has an unmolested score at the end. I believe it to be the nearest version I have seen to the premiere cut, nothing else currently available on video (including in germany where they now use the paramount cut) is even close. After reading the video watchdog article, reading posts on boards like this, I knew what I was looking for and found it in 5 minutes by searching youtube by the german title. Don't you think Scorsese and co could have done even better?

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