Once upon a time in Wiesbaden, back in the dark days before VHS, a kid in my class came up with a business scheme involving this movie. He got hold of an abridged 8mm version of Once Upon a Time in the West (aka Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod), invited us over to watch it in his bedroom on a whirring projector, and then asked that we pitch in five Marks since buying movies was very expensive. The rub: the little scammer had only rented the film–apparently there used to be places that rented Super 8 movies through the mail. Later, he showed us a catalog and wanted to know what we wanted to see next (“Krieg der Sterne?”) But we all felt lied to and the butchered 45-minute version of Once Upon a Time in the West didn’t satisfy, so the scheme dissolved. Soon after, Jochen got the first Grundig Video 2000 recorder, Super 8 became a distant memory, and we watched and rewatched Once Upon a Time in America religiously.

At any rate. In all its unbutchered three-hour gory, Once Upon a Time in the West remains a shamlessly great epic, full of outrageous set pieces and carried along by the sweeping Morricone score. Marcy and I particularly enjoyed Claudia Cardinale’s character who, as the Voice quipped, puts the ho back into “Westward Ho!”

Once Upon a Time in the West. Sergio Leone, 1968. ****

[tags]wiesbaden, jochen, western, video 2000, super 8, sergio leone, film, 4 stars, charles bronson, henry fonda, claudia cardinale[/tags]