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->'''Harmonica:''' The reward for this man is 5000 dollars, is that right?\\
'''Cheyenne:''' Judas was content for 4970 dollars less.\\
'''Harmonica:''' There were no dollars in them days.\\
'''Cheyenne:''' But sons of bitches? Yeah.

'''''Once Upon a Time in the West''''' (in Italian: '''''C'era una volta il West''''') (1968) is considered Creator/SergioLeone's [[MagnumOpus masterpiece]]; according to ThatOtherWiki, it's a prime example of an Epic Western.

It's remembered for its beautiful cinematography, extremely quotable dialogue, and fascinatingly enigmatic characters, as well for its brilliant casting: Creator/CharlesBronson as another [[NoNameGiven "man with no name"]] seeking revenge, Claudia Cardinale as Jill, the young, pretty widow with a past, Jason Robards as the bandit Cheyenne, and Creator/HenryFonda as the [[PlayingAgainstType villainous]] Frank, who works for the [[RailroadBaron railroad tycoon]] Mr. Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti).

CitySlicker Jill arrives at the town of Flagstone by train just as Bronson's [[TheDrifter nameless character drifts]] into town. By chance their paths cross at a roadside establishment. Cheyenne, who has just escaped from his prison escort, dubs Bronson's character "Harmonica." Jill then discovers that her husband and his children have been murdered at their homestead. Frank, the real killer, frames Cheyenne.

Harmonica has a personal vendetta against Frank, so he and Cheyenne fight against Frank and his boss, Mr. Morton. They defend Jill's homestead and discover her late husband's plan to make a fortune.

Under Leone's direction, Music/EnnioMorricone composed the soundtrack before the actual filming started.
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!!''Once Upon a Time in the West'' provides examples of the following tropes:

* AbsoluteCleavage: Jill, towards the end of the movie.
* AccidentalPublicConfession: A chilling version occurs at the beginning of the movie. Frank and his men have just finished massacring a family, only to exit the house and find a small boy staring at them.
-->'''Mook:''' [[WouldntHurtAChild What're we gonna do with this one]], Frank?\\
'''Frank:''' [[PreMortemOneLiner Well, now that you've called me by name...]]
* AffablyEvil: Cheyenne ''is'' a bandit, but he's fighting against someone much worse.
* AlasPoorVillain: [[spoiler:Morton had the desperate goal of seeing the blue ocean of the Pacific before he succumbed to his fatal disease, instead dies slowly face down in a mud puddle while he imagines to hear the ocean.]]
* AntiHero:
** Harmonica is completely remorseless and nearly machinelike in his pursuit of Frank, using Jill as bait, and brutalizing those who get in his way.
** Cheyenne.
* AntiVillain:
** Cheyenne, who also gains AntiHero traits as the film goes along. It helps that he never kills anybody likeable onscreen.
** Mr Morton, whose primary goal is to see the Pacific Ocean again one last time before succumbing to his disease.
* AssholeVictim: Frank and his gang minions.
* {{Badass}}: As is typical for a Leone film, the three main gunslingers--Harmonica, Cheyenne, and Frank--all qualify.
* BadassBeard:
** Cheyenne's.
** Frank sports one in the flashback.
* BadassBoast: Harmonica's first scene, [[ShowdownAtHighNoon when three of Frank's men are waiting for him]]:
--> '''Harmonica:''' Did you bring a horse for me?\\
'''Frank's Man:''' Looks like we're shy one horse.\\
'''Harmonica:''' (shakes head) You brought two too many.
* BadassGrandpa: Frank.
* BadassLongcoat: Cheyenne's gang. Frank sports a similar outfit when framing Cheyenne for the murder of the [=McBain=] family.
-->'''Cheyenne:''' That's a crazy story, Harmonica, for two reasons. One, nobody around these parts got the guts to wear those dusters except Cheyenne's men. Two, Cheyenne's men don't get killed.
* {{Bandito}}: Frank, in the flashback.
* BatmanGambit
* BestServedCold: [[spoiler:Harmonica's revenge is obtained decades after.]]
* BigBadEnsemble: Mr. Morton and Frank are the main villains of the film. Frank might be the focus of Harmonica and Cheyenne's anger, and Mr. Morton who hired him and set the plan in motion.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Frank is a sociopath, Cheyenne a bandit, and Harmonica a ruthless murderer.
* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler:Played with. It's straight for four minutes with Jill, in the second last scene, once she realizes that Harmonica will not stay with her, and that she will most likely live as a widow until her death... then inverted, after Cheyenne gives her some advice that takes a few minutes for her to fully comprehend, and then adhere.]]
* ButForMeItWasTuesday: Frank doesn't remember who Harmonica is, although Harmonica isn't keen on reminding him until the end. On the other hand, when Frank demands Harmonica's name, Harmonica responds with a couple pseudonyms -- which Frank ''does'' recognize as the names of other men he's killed. FacialDialogue shows him finally recognizing Harmonica after the final duel, and [[WordofGod Leone stated]] that he wished for the final flashback to be a shared experience.
* ButNowIMustGo: [[spoiler:Harmonica and Cheyenne are drifters with no place in a settled town. Cheyenne is also about to bleed to death, unknown to any of the other characters.]]
* ChekhovsArmy: [[spoiler:The railroad workers.]]
* TheChessmaster: Frank--for a time, anyway. Harmonica is revealed to be one, over the course of the film.
* CitySlicker: Jill at first. She can't even start a fire. JustifiedTrope since she's alone with the man who she thinks killed her new family -- it's not at all surprising that her hands are shaking. She gradually evolves via CharacterDevelopment.
* CombatPragmatist: Harmonica uses HiddenWeapons to get the drop on others. Cheyenne and Frank also show few compunctions, striking from hiding, and distracting opponents in order to win.
* CreepyBlueEyes: Frank's eyes. [[spoiler:Henry Fonda originally wanted to wear brown contact lenses, [[GoodEyesEvilEyes as he was playing a villain]]. Leone told him to take them off.]]
* CuffsOffRubWrists: After Cheyenne cuts him loose aboard Morton's train, Harmonica is seen rubbing his wrists in the background.
* DarkIsEvil: Frank.
* DeadpanSnarker: Frank and Harmonica are both exceptionally sarcastic.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the Western in general. A widow gains the support of a gunslinger and a local outlaw with a good heart in order to fend off the corrupt railroad tycoon? Sounds like the plot to half the Westerns of the 1950s. [[spoiler:But in this case, the gunslinger isn't doing it for the widow and has his own agenda, the widow in question is a former prostitute who isn't above sleeping with the villain to save her own life, and the bandit chief is protecting her largely because she reminds him of his mother. In the end, the gunslinger moves off for his next showdown, there's no romantic conclusion, and the railroad moves on, pushing the West of the film further and further away.]]
* DeterminedWidow: Jill
* DidNotGetTheGirl: [[spoiler: No]] character. [[spoiler: Cheyenne, Frank or Harmonica stays with Jill at the end. Cheyenne because he dies, Frank because he dies and there's the fact that he killed her family, and Harmonica because he couldn't return her feelings. And since this aspect of the resolution is played largely from Jill's point of view, it's also a case of Did Not Get The Guy]].
* TheDogBitesBack: Unfortunately for Frank, the young Harmonica eventually grows up to become [[spoiler: Creator/CharlesBronson.]]
* DragonInChief: Frank is the focus of the plotline, and has his own agenda, which involves getting Jill to sell the land to him so that he can then sell it to his nominal boss, Mister Morton at a higher price. Toyed with during the later parts of the film, as Morton proves that in his own way, he can be just as dangerous.
* TheDrifter: Harmonica hits the archetype
* DyingAlone: [[spoiler:Cheyenne asks Harmonica to look away.]]
* EvilCounterpart: While TheManWithNoName from the ''Film/DollarsTrilogy'' is not present here, Frank is exactly his evil counterpart. [[WhatCouldHaveBeen The initial idea was to]] reunite Creator/ClintEastwood and [[spoiler:Henry Fonda]], in a symbolic farewell to the "Man with No Name" character that had become world famous. Leone saw physical resemblance between the two actors and imagined a parabola facing the villain who represented the father figure, Fonda, with the hero who embodied his son, Eastwood.
* EvilCripple: Mr. Morton, who has tuburculosis of the bones, and has to use crutches to get around.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: [[spoiler:Cheyenne dies, but Frank and his employer are both dead, and Harmonica has avenged his brother. Jill will go on to become a wealthy widow, and a respected and well-loved member of the Sweetwater railroad town.]]
* EndOfAnAge: The railroads herald the end of the Wild West. In RomanticismVersusEnlightenment, the film is firmly on the side of romanticism.
-->'''Harmonica:''' So you found out you're not a businessman after all?\\
'''Frank''': Just a man.\\
'''Harmonica''': An ancient race. [looks to the approaching railroad] Other Mortons will be along and they'll kill it off.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Cheyenne draws the line at killing children and Catholic priests. Mister Morton loathes senseless slaughter, and comes to see Frank as little more than an animal.
** Interestingly enough, even ''Frank'' seem to have a ''very'' brief moment of this, as he stiffens and his smile fades when his mook calls him by name in front of the kid. While shooting the boy ultimately comes pretty easy to him, that doesn't mean he necessarily jumps with glee at doing it....
* EvilVersusEvil: Frank and Morton spend the second half of the movie trying to checkmate each other, with increasingly violent results.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Frank
* FalseReassurance[=/=]MetaphoricallyTrue:
-->'''Morton:''' Tell me, was it necessary that you kill ''all'' of them? I only told you to ''scare'' them.\\
'''Frank:''' People scare better when they're dying.
* FlashBack: Used to reveal why Harmonica pursues Frank.
* ForDoomTheBellTolls: [[spoiler: Harmonica's brother is hanged from a bell.]]
* GoodColorsEvilColors: Frank always wears with dark colours. Harmonica always wears white.
* GrandFinale: This film is generally seen as the grand finale to Creator/SergioLeone's SpaghettiWestern films.
* TheGunslinger: Harmonica, Frank, and Cheyenne.
* HandicappedBadass: Morton. Not only does he have the balls to play mind games with Frank, [[spoiler: he would have succeded in having him killed as well, if [[OnlyICanKillHim Harmonica had not intervened.]]]]
* HairTriggerTemper: Frank is this when he's angered.
-->'''Frank:''' How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can't even trust his own pants!
* HeroicBSOD: [[spoiler: Jill during her final meeting with both Cheyenne and Harmonica]]
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Jill is the most morally sound character in the film.
-->'''Cheyenne:''' You know, Jill, you remind me of my mother. She was the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived. Whoever my father was, for an hour or for a month, he must have been a happy man.
* IHaveYouNowMyPretty:
** Played straight by Frank, [[spoiler:but Jill submits in order to save her life, even pretending to like it.]]
** There's a subversion in a bizarre scene near the beginning where Harmonica ambushes Jill in a barn, roughs her up a little and rips her dress... Harmonica is [[PlayingWithATrope deliberately invoking]] MaleGaze by [[AbsoluteCleavage tearing her dress]] and [[UnkemptBeauty having her hair whipped around a little]]. There may be assassins just outside, but [[AllMenArePerverts not even they can avert their eyes from the eyecandy]]... except for maybe Harmonica. Look at him closely. He's doing this almost surgically and with extreme care.
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain: Mr. Morton doesn't do much killing, being a [[EvilCripple crippled]] and dying old man. His last dream is to see the Pacific Ocean before he dies. [[spoiler:He spends his dying moments desperately crawling towards a small, muddy puddle as a substitute for the Pacific.]]
* InvincibleHero: {{Averted|Trope}} right from the beginning, as Harmonica, {{Badass}} though he unquestionably is, is wounded in the very first fight. From then on it's not inconceivable that he might lose to Frank.
* IronicEcho: [[spoiler: Harmonica places his harmonica between the lips of a moribund Frank]], a CallBack to the death of [[spoiler: Harmonica's brother, caused by Frank]].
* JackBauerInterrogationTechnique: Harmonica tortures a man to get information of Frank.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Harmonica and Cheyenne.
* JerkWithAHeartOfJerk: Frank. He shows ''no remorse for his actions whatsoever.''
* KickTheDog:
** Frank and his gang kill [[spoiler: a family of four including a young child.]]
** Frank gets another one near the end of the film in the [[spoiler: "keep your lovin' brother happy" flashback. While Frank does spare the life of young Harmonica, he does it only [[TheSociopath to experience sadistic glee]] at seeing the guy witness the murder of his brother.]].
** Frank kicking Morton's crutches out from under him.
* {{Leitmotif}}: Most of the main characters have their own, with Harmonica having the most obvious one, also a ThemeMusicPowerUp. During the duel between Frank and Harmonica at the end, both their themes overlap.
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: Creator/SergioLeone's signature style, the first scene has the characters waiting for a train and runs for almost 15 minutes before the first words are spoken.
* LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn: Just before Harmonica's entrance, the music changes subtly. Everybody starts looking around, then it is revealed the new tune is being played by a man with a harmonica.
* LightIsGood: Harmonica. Basically SergioLeone [[PlayingWithATrope playing with]] the Western tradition of the "good guys" wearing white hats.
* LoveableRogue: Cheyenne
* MailOrderBride: Jill [=McBain=]
* MsFanservice: Jill has a lot of moments of this, [[ReluctantFanserviceGirl often against her wishes.]]
* MissKitty: Jill
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Morton just wants his opposition bought out or intimidated, but Frank prefers to massacre first and ask questions later.
* MusicalisInterruptus: Cheyenne's theme pauses several times so he can say a line, and starts up again. It even pauses to allow [[spoiler:his dead body to drop to the ground.]]
* NeverTrustATrailer: [[http://youtu.be/_T41xBHV01c The trailer]] makes it look like Harmonica is the villain of the film, and a ruthless killing machine. Frank, meanwhile, almost looks like he's the hero.
* NiceGuy:
** Cheyenne has his moments in the film.
** Jill is a NiceGal.
* NoNameGiven: The man out for revenge is [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickName only ever called]] Harmonica, as he plays a harmonica everywhere he goes.
* NonActionBigBad: Mr. Morton
* NotMeThisTime: Frank frames Cheyenne for the massacre of the [=McBain=] family, knowing that it's plausible since Cheyenne is no saint himself.
* NotSoDifferent: Frank and TheManWithNoName (from the Film/DollarsTrilogy). Although they play an entirely different role in the story, both are quite similar, both physically and [[DeadpanSnarker psychologically]] (even Frank carries a very similar clothing to that of The Man With No Name in the flashback). This has reached the point where some fans have theorized that Frank could be the father of The Man With No Name. Even Creator/SergioLeone imagined a parable in this way (see EvilCounterpart above).
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: [[spoiler:Mr. Morton, who refuses to be intimidated, convinces Frank's men to betray him, and kills Cheyenne.]]
* OnceUponATime
* OneWomanWail: "Jill's America"
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou: Harmonica
-->'''Jill:''' You saved his life!\\
'''Harmonica:''' I didn't let them ''kill'' him and that's not the same thing.
* PetTheDog: Jill serves as a big MoralityPet for Cheyenne.
* PostModernism: See {{Deconstruction}} or [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_the_West#Film_references Wikipedia]]. French theorist [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard]] once deemed ''Once Upon a Time in the West'' the first postmodern film.
* PreAsskickingOneLiner
** "When you hear a strange sound, drop to the ground..."
** And [[CallBack referenced in a later shootout]]:
-->'''Jill:''' I swear we're gonna hear that strange sound again.\\
'''Harmonica:''' Right about... ''now.''
* PsychoForHire: Frank, who enjoys killing every bit as much as he enjoys the money he makes from it.
* QuickDraw: Harmonica has a very fast one. So does Frank. And Cheyenne.
* RailroadBaron: Mr. Morton
* RedemptionEqualsDeath: [[spoiler: Cheyenne doesn't get to enjoy his newly heroic life very long.]]
* RedOniBlueOni: Cheyenne and Harmonica respectively.
* RetiredOutlaw: Frank is a former bandit, who now works for the railroad company. This has not made him a more sympathetic individual.
* TheReveal
** [[spoiler: Harmonica's motivation for wanting to kill Frank.]]
** When Jill is presented with a ton of lumber and a sign still awaiting a title to be carved into it. [[spoiler:She realizes her husband was planning on building ''an entire town'' and tells the woodcarver "I said print STATION!"]]
* {{Revenge}}: Harmonica is driven entirely by his desire for revenge on Frank.
* {{Sadist}}: Frank
* SayMyName: "MAUREEN!" It's quite heartbreaking.
* SceneryPorn
* SecretStabWound: Gunshot wound, actually.
* SecretlyDying: Due to the above gunshot wound. Throughout the whole of the last scene with [[spoiler:Jill, you can tell that there's something wrong with Cheyenne, but he's doing his best to hide it from her. It's only once he leaves that we find out what happened.]]
* SettlingTheFrontier: [[spoiler:Jill becomes the matriarch of the small community literally being built up around her as the railroad approaches.]]
* ShipTease and ShipSinking: Jill seems to be showing interest in Harmonica and Cheyenne as the film progresses. However, [[spoiler: when Jill expresses her interest in Cheyenne he replies that he's not the right man...and neither is Harmonica.]]
* ShoutOut:
** Full to bursting with references both obvious and subtle to classic American Westerns, from ''HighNoon'' and ''{{Shane}}'' to ''Johnny Guitar'' and ''Run of the Arrow''.
** Also Claudia Cardinale primping herself in front of a dirty mirror, recalling her appearance in Visconti's ''The Leopard''.
* ShowdownAtHighNoon
* SignatureStyle: This film signals a shift to the second phase of Creator/SergioLeone's style, being slower and more serious than the ''Film/DollarsTrilogy''.
* SlasherSmile: Frank and some of his men [[spoiler:in Harmonica's flashback.]]
* TheSociopath: Frank.
* SonOfAWhore: Cheyenne. [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas He still calls her "the finest woman who ever lived".]]
* SoundtrackDissonance: [[spoiler:Cheyenne's upbeat little motif plays as he dies.]]
* SpaghettiWestern
* SpecialGuest:
** Woody Strode and Jack Elam as two of the hitmen waiting for the train at the beginning.
** Keenan Wynn as the Sheriff at the auction, Frank Wolff as Jill's ill-fated husband, and Lionel Stander as the barman at the saloon where we first encounter Cheyenne.
* TheStarScream: Frank becomes this to Morton.
* SugarAndIcePersonality: Jill. She's icey towards Cheyenne and Harmonica in their first interactions, but eventually warms up to them.
* TeamDad: Cheyenne to a degree. He goes out of his way to protect Jill and Harmonica. And while he speaks rough of his men, he trusts them.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Stony and Snaky.
* TurnCoat: Endemic among the bad guys. [[spoiler:Frank betrays Morton, and Frank's henchmen betray ''him'']].
* VehicleVanish: Harmonica makes his entrance this way, behind a train.
* VillainyDiscretionShot: Cheyenne killing his prison escort.
* VillainProtagonist: Frank is more or less this, as most of the conflict in the main plot revolves around him.
* WhamLine: "Keep your loving brother happy."
* WhammyBid: The five-thousand-dollar bid.
* WhatMightHaveBeen: Creator/SergioLeone originally wanted Creator/ClintEastwood, Creator/LeeVanCleef and Creator/EliWallach - AKA TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly - to play the three men waiting for Harmonica in the opening sequence, but Eastwood was not available and the idea was scrapped.
* WouldHurtAChild:
** One of the earliest evil deeds Frank does is kill a child after this sinister excerpt of dialogue --
--> '''Goon:''' (about the boy) What are we gonna do with him, Frank?
--> '''Frank:''' (beat) Well, now that you've called me by name... (shoots the child)
** [[spoiler:Henry Fonda]], the actor who played Frank, was initially reluctant to take another a role in a western, having been in so many already and [[{{Typecasting}} always playing one of the good guys]]. That is, until director Creator/SergioLeone told him, "Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera pans up to the gunman's face and... it's [[spoiler:Henry Fonda]]." He signed on in a heartbeat.
* YouKilledMyFather: [[spoiler:Brother, actually.]]
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