Believed by many to be the greatest western ever made, Once Upon A Time In The West is director Sergio Leone's masterpiece. On release, however, the film was considered a financial flop in the United States. Critical consensus wasn't universally glowing either, with Time magazine in 1969 claiming: "Leone's newest effort, with a major cast and a lot of big studio money behind it, proves that he is simply a serious bore." Whereas his Dollars films were more tongue-in-cheek parodies of the Wild West, Once Upon A Time In The West is slow, with very little dialogue or action, punctuated by sudden bursts of violence. If you think that sounds a bit like a Tarantino film, you'd have a point. Leone's classic was hugely influential on the pop culture auteur, whose Inglourious Basterds opens with a lengthy sequence entitled 'Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France' and uses clips from Ennio Morricone's score.
It was part of a movement known as Spaghetti Westerns, partly because the director was Italian, but also because it was filmed relatively cheaply in Italy and Spain. In a nostalgic, romantic throwback to a bygone era, Once has a main storyline that revolves around a struggle for a piece of land expected to rise in value when a railroad is built. Naturally, a cunning railroad tycoon learns of this and sends his hired gun Frank (Henry Fonda) to intimidate the owner, Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his family…