Trivia / Once Upon a Time in the West


  • Actor Allusion:
    • In a Deleted Scene, Frank gets a shave at a perfume shop. Henry Fonda sits in the same position he did in My Darling Clementine. At the end of the film, he wears a similar outfit to the one he wore in Warlock. The latter film also contains a sequence in which Fonda's character kicks a crippled man off his crutches, as Frank does to Mr. Morton.
    • This is the second western where Charles Bronson plays a harmonica, the first being Vera Cruz. He also whittled a piece of wood in The Magnificent Seven.
    • Claudia Cardinale primping herself in front of a dirty mirror, recalling her appearance in Visconti's The Leopard.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • Finland - Huuliharppukostaja (The Harmonica Avenger).
    • Germany - Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod (Play the Song of Death for Me).
    • Japan - Western.
  • Deleted Role: Lionel Stander's entire scene as the bartender was cut from international prints, but he remained on the credits.
  • Deleted Scene: In addition to the one above, a scene cut from the film has Harmonica being beaten up by the Sheriff. This explains why he has scars on his face.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The crew smeared jam onto Jack Elam's face so he'd intentionally attract flies. However, only one fly landed on his face so they just went with it.
  • Executive Meddling: Paramount left Sergio Leone alone during the actual production, but they cut over 20 minutes of the film for international distribution, including the entire tavern sequence and Cheyenne's death. This accounted in large parts for the film's cool reception upon release. Nor would West be Leone's last brush with studio editors, either.
  • Fake American: Jill is played by Claudia Cardinale and Morton by Gabriele Ferzetti (both Italian).
  • Fatal Method Acting: Al Mulock, a Canadian actor playing one of the gunmen in the opening scene, committed suicide by jumping out a window (in costumes) between takes.
  • Playing Against Type: Henry Fonda plays the villain in this one, and a very vile one. Fonda had intended to radically change his usual appearance for the film, growing a mustache and beard and wearing brown contact lenses. Leone talked him out of it, as the shock of seeing good old Henry Fonda as a villain was exactly what he wanted. Ben Mankiewicz remarked on TCM that casting him as the villain hurt the box office, because viewers, especially Americans, thought he was too creepy.
  • Orphaned Reference: Harmonica has scars on his face at one point. This is from a deleted scene where he was beaten up by the sheriff.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Sergio Leone considered Henry Fonda his favorite actor since childhood, and had asked him to appear in all of his previous works (supposedly, Fonda's agent wouldn't even show him the scripts, thinking them beneath his client).
  • Real-Life Relative: Woody Strode's wife plays the Indian woman who flees from the train station in the opening sequence.
  • What Could Have Been:

  • Eli Wallach, who had starred in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly a couple of years prior, had played a part in persuading Henry Fonda to take up the chance to work with Leone on Once Upon a Time in the West.

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