Trivia / Once Upon a Time in the West

  • Executive Meddling: Paramount left 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).
  • 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.
  • Promoted Fanboy: 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).
  • What Could Have Been: Leone wanted Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach- AKA The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - to play the three gunmen in the opening scene, but Eastwood declined. Eastwood also turned down the role of Harmonica, as he was no longer interested in working with Leone.

  • 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.