Monday, May 9, 2011

Dang! Part 4, Once Upon a Time In the West

Charles Bronson sees to it that Al Mulloch, Jack Elam &
Woody Strode get theirs in the first 15 minutes of
Once Upon A Time In The West. Photo credit: Paramount

                               Dang! Part 4, Once Upon A Time In The West


                                                                    Jay Agan

      So I was visiting the folks some years back when after dinner, Mom settled in for a movie on TCM: Sergio Leones' Once Upon A Time In The West. Having seen it a time or two before, I fully expected whatever would happen next in the course of the film. Mom however, not having seen it, did not.

      The brutal gunning down of the family early in the film certainly got an "Oh, dear!" out of her. What happened next really took her aback.

      The family laying dead in the dirt, only the little boy to finish off. Boots & spurs shuffle/clink through the dust & stop before the lens. Camera slowly pans up the figure connected to the grimy footwear, stopping on the angelic (With slightly demonic expression.), blond haired, blue eyed face of ..... Him.

      "Oh my God!" Mom Exclaims. "Is that Henry Fonda?!"

      "Sure is."

      Quite unexpected for anyone who hasn't seen this picture. One usually doesn't see Henry Fonda playing against type in a bad guy role, especially as mean & nasty as he is in Once Upon A Time In The West.

      Years later, I got the DVD & viewed the extras. One was an interview with Fonda describing how he prepped himself for the role by "looking like a bastard", dying his hair brown,  mustache, & brown contacs. On seeing him, Leone told him in no uncertain terms that was not the "look" he wanted Fonda to have in the film.

      He wanted Henry Fonda to look like ..... Henry Fonda. Leone wanted it so when the audience first saw his face they would say, & I quote: "Jesus Christ! It's Henry Fonda!"

      That got a few yucks 'n chuckles out of me as I recalled my Moms' reaction. Yes Mr. Leone. It certainly worked with her.

                                     Article copyright © 5-9-2011 Jay Agan

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