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Best Western Blu-ray Review

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Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, ... | BEST WESTERN Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West
Everett Collection

When most people hear the name Sergio Leone, they think of Clint Eastwood. After all, Leone — the maestro of spaghetti Westerns — was the man who turned Eastwood into a squinting badass icon with 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars, 1965’s For a Few Dollars More, and 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Better known to genre aficionados as the Man With No Name Trilogy, Leone’s stylishly baroque oaters (think supertight close-ups and groovy Ennio Morricone scores) are all great. But they only hint at the masterpiece to come: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, PG-13, 2 hrs., 45 mins.). Leone’s epic about a trio of outlaws is set during the last death-rattle days of the Old West. The railroad is coming to town, and with it, progress and the end to their lawless way of life. Henry Fonda, famous for portraying white-hatted Hollywood good guys, goes against type as a sadistic gunslinger who kills women and children for kicks. Jason Robards plays the grizzled scoundrel and escaped con pleading his case to the smoky-eyed Claudia Cardinale. And Charles Bronson is the brooding, harmonica-playing loner out for vengeance. We don’t find out what he’s avenging until the final reel, but when we do, it’s in one of the most bone-chilling, beautifully revealed flashbacks ever committed to celluloid. West is a long movie — the new Blu-ray comes with a 166-minute unrated restored version and a 165-minute theatrical version. But something tells me that even if you don’t dig Westerns, you’ll love this one. Sadly, the disc’s EXTRAS are leftovers from previous DVDs. The best is a commentary track featuring Leone disciples John Carpenter, John Milius, and Alex Cox. A