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)

#151 Post by Nothing » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:32 am

murchman wrote: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.
Actually, this points rather conclusively to the titles being created specifically for this cut of the film. When optically printing, there must have been a slight mis-match in the timings (not unusual), so that the title bled over into the next shot - this being the shot of Strode, not Murdoch as in the European cut. Still, this doesn't clarify whether these titles were created in 1969 or in the early 1980s (and it is also possible that they created these titles in 1969 for the shorter cut and that the titles for the May '69 premiere cut were simply lost or destroyed).
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.
Perhaps there's no hard 'proof' (eg. a quote from Leone saying "the 177m Italian DVD is not my favoured version of the film!") however there is a lot of convincing circumstantial evidence - most compellingly, the cack-handed way in which the music has been edited, which could only exist in a rough cut. That the excised footage achieves nothing other than to make the film longer and more flabby (indeed, I would argue that, other than the 144m cut, the 177m cut is the only version that is noticably inferior to the others). But also, if Leone preferred it, why did no release of the film during his lifetime conform to this version (including the Italian release, the US release and the 70s/80s restoration that he financially sponsored)? Doesn't make sense on any level.
There was only one version which was released in Italy, which was released in Germany, which premiered in NY, which was rated in England
No, there's no conclusive evidence of how the title sequences played out in the original English titled version, the NY premiere cut. If we can discover the vintage of the current optical English titles on the film then this would be an important clue, as I said.

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

#152 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:29 am

Nothing wrote:
Lighthouse wrote:According to all my books the UK version was also cut down to 144 min.
No. I sense this may open up a whole new can of worms, but the 1969 UK release version was 167m6s in length, as was the 1982 re-release. The 2000 re-issue was 165m12s. However, I'm positive that before 2000 I more than once saw a print with an AA Certificate at the head and there was no variation whatsoever... My suggestion is that this additional length may possibly relate to music running on over black after the end credits, which I do also seem to recall from these earlier screenings. I wonder if someone at the BFI could look at one of these olders prints and check (I believe they have at least one in their archive...)
Sorry to come late to this, but I can confirm with 100% certainty that the short version was screened at the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill in the mid 1980s, as I saw it there myself. I think it was a one-off matinée, but it was certainly a full public screening.

I can be completely certain that it was the short version, because it was my second or third viewing, having first been exposed to the long version at its 1982 revival - which I always understood to be the UK premiere (or at least the first commercial release) of the 165-minute cut.

I remember the 1982 revival vividly, as there was a huge amount of fanfare about it at the time - not only was the film playing in the main screen of the Empire Leicester Square, one of the biggest cinemas in the country (Time Out's caption was "Gasp! Intelligent programming comes to the West End!"), but the additional length was also a part of the promotion. I'd always been under the impression that all pre-1982 releases in Britain were of the short version, and the Gate screening seems to corroborate this - presumably they intended to show the 165-minute version but the Rank depot sent them the shorter cut by mistake.

(In my own rep booking days, this used to happen to me frequently enough to be annoying - they'd just pull the nearest print off the shelf regardless of whether it was the one we actually wanted or even the right film in the first place. I learned never to book Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes for screening on the actual day of delivery as they'd invariably send us the 1970s remakes and I'd have to sort out a replacement.)

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

#153 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:57 am

OK, I've done a bit more digging, and the Monthly Film Bulletin for September 1969 explicitly says:
12,960 ft. 144 mins. Original running time: 165 mins
And 12,960 feet does indeed equate to 144 mins exactly.

The MFB (absorbed into Sight & Sound in 1991, which carries on the same tradition) obtained its running times from the physical length of the film, not distributors' handouts, so it's the most reliable record we have of exactly how long a particular release version of a film was.

So we can now be pretty certain that the UK release between 1969 and 1982 was of the short 144 minute version. Which is what I'd always assumed, based on the fanfare surrounding the 1982 revival of the 165-minute version and the continued existence of at least one 144-minute print as witnessed by me a few years later.

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

#154 Post by Lighthouse » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:20 am

Nothing wrote:
There was only one version which was released in Italy, which was released in Germany, which premiered in NY, which was rated in England
No, there's no conclusive evidence of how the title sequences played out in the original English titled version, the NY premiere cut. If we can discover the vintage of the current optical English titles on the film then this would be an important clue, as I said.
This evidence we will probably never get, unlike some private collectors have some of the old 35 mm prints.
But try to see it the other way round, we have at the moment zero evidence that Leone ever prepared another cut than the original Italian release. And for that the likeliness is very high that all releases were at first the same.
But then here's another partly strange quote from the Simsolo interview book. I took it again from the Sergio Leone Web Board in what the poster calls a rough translation:
Simsolo (speaking about Once Upon A Time In The West): Is this truly the movie that satisfies you most?

Leone: No. It is a work which gives me the opportunity of expressing myself at 80 percent. It is with Once Upon A Time In America that I do it at 100 percent.

And then the Americans made outrageous cuts. They even removed the death of Cheyenne.

I had made two versions: one short and one long. Paramount had chosen the long version. While I was at a festival in Moscow, I learned that they were going to cut into it anyway. I was furious.

I had signed a contract for five films with them. I immediately broke it. And the worst was that their new version was a dismal failure. Whilst the long version was a huge success in the rest of the world. In Germany, the film beat the box office revenue record of Gone With The Wind. Critics extolled me. They reconsidered my earlier films. Me, I preferred to find this funny.

Yes, it was better to laugh about it... I must also say that the reception of the French public was extraordinary, without doubt because they are more accustomed to a cinema of slowness and reflection. French filmmakers can make works where slowness is their inspiration and poetry. Whilst audiences in other countries want speed. And I was touched by the esteem they thought of me alongside such colleagues as Marco Ferreri, Stanley Kubrick, Sam Peckinpah, John Boorman. Especially since I love their own work.
Don't know what short version he was talking about, but it can't be the butchered version otherwise he hadn't complained about the cutting of the death scene. One long one short? Strange ...

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

#155 Post by Lighthouse » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:23 am

MichaelB, do you remember if the Rising scene (we are having so much fun with) was in one or both versions you have seen back in the early 80s?

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

#156 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:01 am

Lighthouse wrote:MichaelB, do you remember if the Rising scene, (we are having so much fun with) was in one or both versions you have seen back in the early 80s?
To be honest, I can't remember this reliably - I've certainly seen the scene in question, and I have an inkling that it was in a big-screen version. It's not at all beyond the bounds of possibility that it was in the shorter cut, and that its presence was the first thing that alerted me to the fact that I was watching a different print to the one I saw in 1982 and 83, but there's no way I can confirm that reliably.

On the other hand, I've done a bit more Monthly Film Bulletin digging, and the August 1982 issue makes it clear beyond any doubt that the UK release version up to then was the 144-minute cut. They update the credits so that the running time is now 168 mins (based on 15,120 feet), and ran a reasonably lengthy article entitled "The original version's the thing...", whose opening paragraph reads:
In recent weeks a new kind of film has arrived in the West End. Interspersed with the endless run of sequels that come appended with numerals, this new variety of follow-up is certainly cheaper and probably more rewarding: the restored, reintegrated version of films previously released only in abbreviated, dubbed or otherwise trammelled forms. What is interesting is that this restoration work, which used to be the province of independent, maverick distributors, has now been taken over by the majors: one beneficial result, perhaps, of the dwindling supply of new product. A little while ago, United Artists led the way by reissuing New York, New York, not only with the fifteen minutes that had been cut for British distribution restored, but with new material added. United International, the company into which UA was absorbed, has now released the uncut Once Upon a Time in the West, while Columbia-EMI-Warner has opened an uncut, subtitled version of The Boat only weeks after the abbreviated, dubbed version came and went. Meanwhile, Cinegate has opened James Ivory's own version of The Wild Party.
I love trawling through old articles like this, at least as much for what they reveal in passing. The reference to "the dwindling supply of new product", for instance (the number of films in 35mm distribution fell sharply in the early 1980s, thanks to poor cinema receipts and the decline of the double bill), or the excitement over the novelty of restorations, which we take in our stride in the DVD/Blu-ray era. The Boat is of course Das Boot, though I think it went under the English title in Britain until the late-1990s revival - ironically, given the use of the word "uncut" above, of a much longer version, though not quite as long as the full TV version, of which the author was presumably ignorant. (Another thing to bear in mind about old articles like these is that their authors wouldn't have had any access to online resources, so German TV transmissions might as well have happened on the moon if the researcher was based exclusively in the UK).

Anyway, the introduction mostly goes on about other films, but does mention in passing that:
UIP's re-release of Once Upon a Time in the West was prompted by the imminent possibility that Leone's Once Upon a Time in America would finally happen and, more ironically, by the company's desire to re-present 'classic' films in their original versions. But it seems that after its West End run, this complete print will be withdrawn.
This may explain why the Gate screened the shorter cut, though I'd seen the longer one at the Empire in 1982 and the NFT in 1983. Certainly, when I was in the rep booking business myself (from 1989), the only version we screened was the longer cut, so something must have changed - but it is of course possible that the ecstatic reception made UIP change its withdrawal plans and that my hypothesis that the Gate screening was down to a straightforward print delivery cock-up still holds true.

The feature then discusses The Wild Party in depth, before tackling OUATITW in similar fashion (Steve Jenkins is credited as the author of this section). It's too long to cut and paste comfortably, but it begins:
When originally reviewed in the Monthly Film Bulletin (September 1969, p.187) by John Gillett, Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West had been cut by 24 minutes, from 168 to 144 minutes (the Bulletin gave the original running time, incorrectly, as 165 minutes). The missing footage, removed by Paramount (who co-financed the film for world rights minus Italy) after unfavourable initial reactions in the US, has now been restored in this country and the film has been re-released intact.
The piece then goes on to discuss the four main cuts - though it also refers to "the trimming of seconds from various other parts of the film". But the big four were:

1. The 14-minute scene in which Jill stops at the trading post run by Lionel Stander, including Cheyenne's first appearance. After describing it in detail, Jenkins concludes:
The whole scene is clearly of major importance as it brings together, for the first time, three of the film's four main characters, making their subsequent encounters rather less puzzling.
2. The two-minute scene outside Frank's Navajo cave hideout, just after he has first met Jill at Sweetwater. This revolves around a conversation between Frank and Morton, culminating in Morton being kicked off his crutches.

3. About one-and-a-quarter minutes in which Frank finds Morton's train, strewn with dead bodies inside and out. (In the cut version, Frank only discovered the dying Morton by the side of the train).

4. The four-minute scene with the death of Cheyenne.

The piece also adds:
(A detailed resumé of the cuts, along with details of eight groups of scenes shot by Leone but cut prior to the assembly of the Italian print, is contained in Christopher Frayling's excellent book Spaghetti Westerns, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.)
Gallingly, I used to have a copy of this, but I can't for the life of me remember what happened to it, and I definitely don't have it now. I suspect I foolishly lent it to someone and forgot all about it.

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

#157 Post by Nothing » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:17 am

So Michael, can you recall if the opening and end title sequences of the 1982 release match the present version (also, the opening and end title sequences of the 144m print)? Was Cheyenne's theme present at the end of both?
Lighthose wrote:we have at the moment zero evidence that Leone ever prepared another cut than the original Italian release.
And yet there was a five month gap inbetween the Italian and US release, during which time Leone was in LA supervising the final post of the US version, so it's far from unlikely (given also that his previous film was trimmed in the US prior to dubbing). As for evidence, how about the very existence of the opening/end credits now present on the BD, the fact that this version received a wide international re-release in the early 1980s, whilst Leone was still alive - oh, and that Frayling, Paramount, Scorsese and two restorations teams clearly believe this to be the correction English version of the film.

Suffice to say, one can really argue this both ways ;)

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

#158 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:45 am

Nothing wrote:So Michael, can you recall if the opening and end title sequences of the 1982 release match the present version (also, the opening and end title sequences of the 144m print)? Was Cheyenne's theme present at the end of both?
I don't have the Blu-ray, so can't answer your first question, but I am absolutely certain that Cheyenne's theme was present at the end of the 1982 version, as I remember the way that it paused just before the final note - and that this pause was a repeat of the first pause, which accompanied Cheyenne's actual death.

(I really can't exaggerate the impact that Morricone's score had on me at my first encounter with the film - I was lucky enough to watch it having had no previous exposure to it, other than the film's advance reputation for an unusually effective fusion of image and music, so I remember details vividly that I might not have recalled in a lesser film/score. And the pause at the end of the reprisal of Cheyenne's theme has stuck in my mind vividly).

I'm pretty sure that the 144-minute version opened more or less the same way, as I remember that it took some time for the penny to drop that I was watching a cut version. (I was aware that such a version existed, having read Frayling's book and indeed the coverage of the 1982 reissue, but I wasn't expecting to encounter it by surprise). No idea about the end credits, I'm afraid.

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

#159 Post by Nothing » Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:24 am

Interesting. I wonder where the extra 2 minutes come from then.

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

#160 Post by Lighthouse » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:11 am

Which 2 min? The exit music?

If they showed the 1969 version in 1982 (as the BBFC runtime suggests), than it must have had Cheyenne's theme at the end, but as exit music, and not cutting off Morricone's Finale.

The Paramount cut was not prepared in the USA before 1984, and if this British re-release was then really again withdrawn, it might be possible that the British version was up to that point the uncut version, which was then later substituted by the Paramount version.
Well, maybe ... tricky

Hmmm ... too bad ...

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

#161 Post by Nothing » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:30 am

Lighthouse wrote:Which 2 min? The exit music?
Except you're saying there was no exit music, right Michael? Cheyenne's theme played over the second portion of the end titles?

Tbh, this is also how I would now be inclined to recall the AA-Rated print that I saw in the early 1990s (which wasn't replaced by the 165m print until the re-release by the BFI in 2000, according to the BBFC). Looking at the German version, I don't believe I've ever seen the film end like that before... So... If the English version always ended like this, it would certainly explain the choices made by the Scorsese restoration team, Fralying and Paramount - although it still doesn't explain the missing 2m (or 1m50s) listed in the BBFC's database...

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

#162 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:46 pm

Nothing wrote:
Lighthouse wrote:Which 2 min? The exit music?
Except you're saying there was no exit music, right Michael? Cheyenne's theme played over the second portion of the end titles?
Sorry, there's no way I can have total recall of a screening from nearly 29 years ago. The only thing I can be absolutely certain about was that Cheyenne's theme - specifically the pause just before the end - was repeated, as I remember that particular detail as though it were yesterday. Given the impression that the music made on me, there's every likelihood that I'd have stayed right to the very end, but I don't specifically recall it playing over a black screen.
Tbh, this is also how I would now be inclined to recall the AA-Rated print that I saw in the early 1990s (which wasn't replaced by the 165m print until the re-release by the BFI in 2000, according to the BBFC).
"The AA-rated print" would definitely have been the 1982 release, as the AA certificate only existed from 1971 to 1983. Interestingly, the 1969 release appears to have an A certificate, which is technically milder - roughly equivalent to a 12A today, in that it admitted people under sixteen provided they were accompanied by an adult. (The 'Dollars' trilogy got X certificates on their original releases, though at the time this only banned under-16s).

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

#163 Post by GaryC » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:30 pm

MichaelB wrote:But it seems that after its West End run, this complete print will be withdrawn. This may explain why the Gate screened the shorter cut, though I'd seen the longer one at the Empire in 1982 and the NFT in 1983. Certainly, when I was in the rep booking business myself (from 1989), the only version we screened was the longer cut, so something must have changed - but it is of course possible that the ecstatic reception made UIP change its withdrawal plans and that my hypothesis that the Gate screening was down to a straightforward print delivery cock-up still holds true.
For what its worth, we showed the 168-minute print at Southampton University in 1985. I can't remember specifics about this except that the print showed signs of wear and tear.

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

#164 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:58 pm

I suspect there was only one print of the 168-minute version in circulation in Britain - I can't think why UIP would have needed more than one, given that it played exclusively at the Empire for a fortnight or so and then went straight to the rep circuit.

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

#165 Post by Nothing » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:45 pm

So folks, don't forget to vote for Once Upon a Time in the West in the Western List Project! Ballots due in June 20th - and tell yer friends ;)

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

#166 Post by Lighthouse » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:14 pm

It seems I haven't noticed this post, but so I have to start the funny discussion again. I'm afraid.
Nothing wrote:
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.
Of course I don't think he can remember every sec difference, but when one watches a film that often he notices if suddenly certain parts are missing. Like especially the tipping on the holster. And I'm sure he has access to a copy of the theatrical Italian or maybe German version, from which he can reconstruct what was missing. And then uses the Italian DVD to show some of the shots he means. Of course you will say now we can't still know if this was exactly the same version back then, and that is certainly true, but at the moment we have not the slightest evidence that Leone ever prepared a different version. So why assume that he made one?
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.

I don't know what to think about this restoration, as Scorsese did not even fix the closing music over which many people have complained. And then takes elements from the 177 min version to make of all things the superfluous Rising scene longer. (He really must love this scene)
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).
If it is crass and unsubtle, it is at least not less unsubtle than the cut from the 2. to the 3. scene, from Fonda's gun to the shrieking train. Both are excellent cuts imo which correspondent to each other. I always loveed them. And whatever OUTW is, it is not a film with suspense. Not knowing for 25 min what have happened is very effective and quite delicate. But also irritating to many.
Nothing wrote:
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.
Here you are again inconsequent. You believed Frayling earlier in this thread when he says the film was cut directly after the NY premiere without asking how he could know, but you don't trust him if I quote him (Spaghetti Westerns p. 279). There Frayling gives also a good explanation why the Rising scene was shot: " ... probably because Leone had not yet decided how to strike balance between making the story too obvious or too elliptical for his audience." (Yes, an assumption, obviously.)
Nothing wrote:
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.
Well, frankly said you are the only person (of those who should now) who calls OUTW an American film. In every German film book I have which works with original titles (and nearly every serious book does) the film is always named C'era una volta il West. Also in all encyclopedia. And Phil Hardy in his The Western book has it as: "Once upon a Time in the West orig C'era una volta il West." Just like every other foreign western in his book. Because it is an Italian film, and for that we must still look what the Italian version was. If we want the director's real version.

I repeat:
We have no evidence that the original English version was different from the original Italian version. We have testimonies of fans who are sure that they have seen English uncut versions at least without the Rising scene (even MichaelB thinks so without being sure). And there was a US version in 1973 with the 70 missing sec. and without the Rising scene. And it was that version Leone paid the half to help restoring it, not the 1984 version.

And one last question Nothing: Don't you think that the first scene is better, and not only longer, in that YouTube clip?

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

#167 Post by Nothing » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:07 pm

Lighthouse wrote:at the moment we have not the slightest evidence that Leone ever prepared a different version. So why assume that he made one?
Except we do - the very fact that the tightened version of the English opening credits exists and has been used for every English language home video release of the film and also for the recent restoration (the same goes for the end credits). That no-one (so far) bas been able to produce any video evidence of a longer Engish credit sequence, and all we have to the contrary is the recollection of ONE guy at Video Watchdog who was 15 at the time, whilst Michael, who saw the film in 1982, admits that this was still too long ago to be able to remember such details. + the confusing matter of the 167m listed on the BBFC database.

Of course, if you live in Germany I can see how this might be a little annoying if you are used to the German credited version - do they not include the German credits on the German BD?
Lighthouse wrote:it is at least not less unsubtle than the cut from the 2. to the 3. scene, from Fonda's gun to the shrieking train. Both are excellent cuts imo which correspondent to each other.
That a similar transition is used at the end of the Sweetwater massacre is a large part of my objection - b/c the technique becomes repetitious. And the sweetwater cut works better b/c it is a genuinely tense and horrible scene and the cut releases that tension perfectly.
Lighthouse wrote:there was a US version in 1973 with the 70 missing sec. and without the Rising scene. And it was that version Leone paid the half to help restoring it, not the 1984 version.
Again according to video watchdog dude. Would prefer some corroboration.
Lighthouse wrote:And one last question Nothing: Don't you think that the first scene is better, and not only longer, in that YouTube clip?
Can't say I do. I mean, there's not much between them really but the English version is tighter. Eg. after the 'Sergio Leone' credit, it is more dynamc to cut straight to shot of Strode putting on his hat and the Indian woman running away, rather than first using the flat and unnecessary close-up of Murdoch. And then the close-up of the knuckle-cracking is a bit unsubtle/over-comedic, drawing our attention to a detail that was already visible in the midshot. The stuff with the fly goes on too long. And Elam hams it up too much as they're waiting for Harmonica to emerge from the train. But I'd have been happier to have this version on the BD than the strange halfway house that Scorsese offers, which seems to be satisfying to no-one.

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

#168 Post by Lighthouse » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:43 am

The stuff with the fly is (I think) exactly the same in all versions. the other stuff around Elam and the fly was shortened. It has a certain rhythm, and this rhythm gets a little bit lost.

I doubt that there are many other people who will prefer the shorter first scene, and I doubt that many people will prefer the changed closing music.
But with the Rising scene it is different. Many would complain if now a DVD would appear without it, while most wouldn't notice if the first scene would have the 70 sec restored.

We don't have German titles any more (which I don't need btw). Since the age of digitalisation there is worldwide only the same master used for every release, and that is the Paramount master. Except in Italy, thanks to the splitting of the rights between Italy and Paramount for the rest of the world. And this starts with the release of the first Laserdisc in the early 90s, and since then the German version runs only in the theatres, while for TV a copy of the longer version was prepared in 1998. Which since then is the one mostly aired, but last weekend a TV station aired also for the first time the Paramount DVD version.

But well, I think it seems we both will stick to the versions we are used to for so many years.
In the end it is also matter of tastes. And the only thing we can agree on, apart from not particularly liking the 177 min version, is that we don't agree.

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

#169 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:30 pm

Lists discussion moved to its appropriate thread, here.

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

#170 Post by Lighthouse » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:00 pm

Question to Nothing:

What was wrong with the duel music on the 177 min version?

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

#171 Post by Tuco » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:02 pm

Uh...between the opening and the end music controversies, the rest is kinda north of okay, huh, in any of the "restored" versions, yes? One of my favorite movies and I think there is a bit o' gas being expended on this thread. Egads, me too!

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

#172 Post by Nothing » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:13 pm

heh, yes.

The disc is in storage, but, as I recall, there is a nasty splice in the music during the duel on the 177m rough cut + it also isn't synchronised as effectively.

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

#173 Post by manicsounds » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:30 pm

Question: Who played Patrick McBain? (The older son who gets slapped.)

I can't find his name in the credits, or on IMDB, although the rest of the McBain family actors are there. Just wondering what else he might have been in, and strange to see there was not even a name.

The commentary track makes no mentions of the child cast members or whatever happened to them. Also tried to see if there's an email or facebook for Christopher Frayling, probably someone who would know that info, but no luck.

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

#174 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:33 pm

I've been watching it a little bit here and there lately. My favorite scene now is the first time we see Frank on the train, with Morton. "People scare better when they're dyin'" is his rationale for the McBain massacre, said with a coolness and coldness that convinces you of his utter murderous streak. It's very well-written (I could probably recite all of it's dialogue), but staged just as well too (just as the other big sequence on the train where Harmonica meets Frank). When he gets the train going again (talking about removing small obstacles) is the real great moment for me in the middle of this scene. The lighting of the match, the train whistle and engine starting is almost musical against the dialogue.

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

#175 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:04 pm

This came from this site dated May of 2015. (On the link scroll down to comments and there is some interesting updates.)
Hello all, I am part of the group currently scanning and restoring a unique 1966 Italian technicolor print of "the Good the Bad and the Ugly".

In addition to that ongoing project, we have been offered a chance to purchase a 35mm German technicolor print of "Once Upon a Time in the West". The reason we think it would be worthwhile scanning this print is because we could use the 4k scans to finally reconstruct the international cut opening as intended.

The current blu ray attempts to recreate the international cut but is actually missing some shots from the opening (that would be included in this print), the blu ray cut also includes a scene that should NOT be present (Harmonica rising from the platform after being shot), and has incorrect music over the closing shot of the film. The 35mm print would be useful in verifying the rising scene should not be included and confirming the music placement at the end. Also it would a wonderful colour reference as the blu ray is too red/magenta overall.

To clarify there are at least 5 different edits of this movie :

- Original 166 min 1968 italian cut (the content of which is unknown unless it can be researched via the oldest italian VHS)

- Original 145 min 1969 American cut (heavily edited)

- Original 165 min 1969 International cut (the version present on this print which we hope to restore)

- 1990's 177 min italian dvd "director's cut" (although this being a true "director's cut" remains a controversy, the extra footage is mostly "padding" out existing scenes

- 2011 165 min Blu Ray "Scorsese restoration" (although it restores some of the shots in the opening featured in the international cut , it does not restore all of them.)

There is a long and crazy history to the edits/versions of this film and we firmly believe (and have research to back it up) that the version currently available to the public is incorrect and we'd like to rectify that. Using the BR as a starting point we'd fill in the gaps/amend the differences with the 35mm german cut scans.

*edit* print has been acquired and we are hoping for some crowdfunding/financial support in order to help pay for scanning it in the U.S.
This looks like something Criterion would be working on. All the different cuts, the Leone phantom page and I think the blu being OOP, makes this a possibility.

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