OTB#44: Once Upon a Time in the West

One Upon a Time in the West. Sergio Leone. 1968. ⚃

I’ve seen all the Eastwood Leone movies… but I may never have seen this one? I probably have, though, on third-generation VHS back in the 80s.

Oh wow. Argento and Bertolucci? Well, the first sounds good, but not the second…

OH WOW! This is the movie where Colourbox sampled that line from! I’ve listened to that song a million times, but I’ve never known where it was from. Hearing it now was just surreal.

This movie is just amazing. Henry Fonda as the bad guy! He’s brilliant! He’s the most evil villain ever!

I bet you the biggest part of the budget on this movie was having people standing just outside the frame with spray bottles filled with water to spritz onto the actors’ faces whenever there was a cut. To give everybody that sweaty look.

[time passes]

I was all in on this movie being the best movie, ever, until… like… 50 minutes in? But now it starts to drag…

[another hour passes]

I’m still really bored! This is a hard movie to grade: The first 45 minutes were perfect cinema, but since then it’s been just occasional flashes of fun. But mostly one turgid scene after another. It’s not even that this movie goes on for too long (even thought it’s almost three hours long), but that it’s just consistently dull and uninteresting after the opening.

It’s like the first bit was written by Argento and the rest by Bertolucci.

So… I give the first 45 minutes a seven (on a scale of six), and then the rest a two. So that’s a four?

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#48: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Milos Forman. 1975. ⚄

I think I saw this when I was a child. I remember… it being sad? Yes. That’s all I remember. And I think I may have it confused with Birdy. And… Oh! Now I remember the Mad parody of it. There’s some pillow action at the end and a ratched nurse!

OK, that was a lot more than I remembered when I started writing that paragraph, but I’m basically unbiased and have no opinion about this movie.

Except that I’ve never seen a Milos Forman movie that I’ve liked. Details!

[a few minutes pass]

Nurse Ratched! I thought I was making a joke! But that’s her name.

[more time passes]



Anyway, I’m really impressed by some of the performances here. Playing mentally ill people often brings out the worst in actors — you can see the “THIS IS THE OSCAR PERFORMANCE” swirling in their eyes while they’re chewing up the scenery — but here it’s… I won’t say restrained, but it’s almost believable.

Perhaps Danny DeVito in particular.

Louise Fletcher is convincing to begin with, but as her layers of sheer eeeevil are peeled back… not so much. It still won her an Oscar. (But it took home all the Oscars that year, so…)

[more time passes]

I do like this movie a lot. It manages to balance a surprisingly light touch with a story that, from the outset, can’t end in anything but tragedy. It’s melancholic throughout, even in the “fun” scenes.

The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the party scene towards the end. It didn’t really seem to be necessary for the movie? It was just like… “insert wild 70s scene here”…

Anyway, surprisingly good movie.

I mean, it is Milos Forman.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.