Monday, May 19, 2008

Academy Revisits Old West with New Print

From AMPAS:

Beverly Hills, CA – As part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Gold Standard screening series, the epic “Once upon a Time in the West” will be presented on Friday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The screening celebrates the West Coast premiere of a new restoration, courtesy of Paramount Pictures, and marks the 40th anniversary of the film’s 1968 release in Italy. (It was not shown in the United States until May 1969.)

At the height of what might be called the “Spaghetti Western” era, director Sergio Leone created this follow-up to his highly regarded trilogy starring Clint Eastwood (“A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”). The screenplay was crafted from a story written with Dario Argento, the now-legendary Italian horror director, and future Oscar®-winning writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci.

With a cast of Americans (Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson) and Italians (Claudia Cardinale, Gabriele Ferzetti, Paolo Stoppa), “Once upon a Time in the West” unfolds in a frontier town where the impending construction of the railroad brings together a rough mix of men and a beautiful widow who is menaced by a ruthless killer. Shoot-outs and acts of revenge and intimidation abound in this fast-paced, bloody exploration of the lawless age of western expansion.

The restoration of “Once upon a Time in the West” was made possible by The Film Foundation and the Rome Film Festival in association with Sergio Leone Productions and Paramount Pictures.

Tickets to “Once upon a Time in the West” are $5 for the general public and may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. All seating is unreserved. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

Once Upon a Time in the West is my all time favorite western. Made after his "Man With No Name" trilogy of A Fistful of Dollars (a western remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo), For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West is a culmination and perfection of the styles and techniques that Leone employed in those earlier films. Modern audiences unfamiliar with this but familiar with Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 2 will notice parallels, as this was one of the key inspirations for that film's haunting, ethereal tone.

The wordless opening sequence (scored only with the incessant squeaking of an old windmill), is one of the great opening scenes in movie history. And the film itself is a deserved classic.

Anyone who lives in the Beverly Hills area is strongly encouraged to go. Anyone else who can't make it is strongly encouraged to seek out the DVD. Once Upon a Time in the West should not be missed.

3 comments:

nick plowman said...

"Once upon a Time in the West" is my fav western too!!!

Alas, geography makes it hard for me to appreciate this news, but I am glad for who ever can go.

Matthew Lucas said...

Same here. But I have it on DVD so I can always revisit it there.

Rick Olson said...

I have it on DVD as well, but I'm eagerly awaiting seeing this restoration on DVD, or perhaps even Blu-ray, if I can ever afford such a thing.

Not my favortite Western, but pretty close to the top.