(Review for HARMONICA)
I first saw Once Upon a Time in the West a couple months ago, and while I enjoyed it, it was painfully slow. When the final duel took place and the reveal of who Harmonica was, it made me realise that the film really should've been about Harmonica & Frank's rivalry, and not the extraneous plotlines that took up most of the film. This edit is exactly what I wanted from this film. It cuts over half of the film's run-time, yet does not feel rushed at all. TMBTM wisely chooses which scenes to keep and which to cut. Additionally, a lot of kept scenes are tightened, which fixes the poor pacing of the original. It's hard to believe the original runs at nearly 3 hours after watching this.
(Spoilers for the edit)
Cheyenne is completely cut. While I liked his character, he was not necessary to Harmonica's story, and this edit really proves that.
Comments on the edit:
*not a fan of the rescore with the hip-hop Harmonic theme at the McBain farm shooting, and the final stand-off. The original has more weight to it.
*very good cut making it seem like the train it cuts to (after the McBain farm shooting) is the train Harmonica is on in the opening scene.
*Re-orders scenes so that Harmonica looking for Frank comes after Frank being introduced via the McBain farm shooting. Good choice, as now the audience know who Harmonica is after.
*The cut between Frank threatening Harmonica and shooting Wobbles is quite sudden.
*The intercutting of 2 (or 3?) different scenes to make it look like Morton releases Harmonica and pays him to go after Frank is very, very clever. This cut is crucial in eliminating Cheyenne from the film.
*Perhaps more should've have been kept between Frank & Morton to explain their conflict better, since in this edit it's not that clear why Morton decides to have Frank killed. I guess we can assume Morton saw Frank as a rival and decided to kill him before Frank replaced him.
*Minor gripe, but I would've ended the film on a shot of Harmonica rather than Jill.
Overall, this was a brilliant edit, and it'll definitely be my go-to on future re-watches of "...in the West". TMBTM has really done an excellent job here of creating a more concise and slightly altered narrative which is, in my opinion, superior to that of the original's.
Would really like to see this remastered (preferably without the hip hop rescore) one day in HD, as the film has been re-released on Blu-ray since this edit was made. And I look forward to watching the second edit of this anthology, "Two Glorious Bastards" by boon - if I can get my hands on it.
The Ugly West has been high on my must see list and having purchased / watched the two films recently I wanted to see how much these edits would differ from the originals. A Sergio Leone film can be a hard slog to sit all the way through and while these two edits aren't meant to improve the originals but to give a more digestible version to two Sergio Leone classics.
First up was Harmonica a very shortened version of Once Upon A Time in the West though its core story line is very much intact. I have to be honest and say the musical changes made weren't to my taste neither the more dance/remix version of Ennio Morricone score I didn't like nor the inclusion of the music used in Kill Bill. I can understand the idea as Tarantino himself used the music of Ennio Morricone within his two Kill Bill films, but I just feel this music is so inferior to the original it took away from the final epic confrontation between Harmonica and Frank.
Another problem I had with the edit was just how did Harmonica get off the train? Last we saw of him was tied up on the train, next we see of him bidding on the McBain property. Apologizes to the editor if I missed something but I didn't fully understand what had just happened. At first I thought Harmonica was in cahoots with Morton, when the large amount of money was taken out of the drawer but then this would totally go against the character of Harmonica who has his own agenda. During the bidding we flashback to the train in which the Morton hands out $500 to his men to bid on the property though the men at the bidding are completely different. Again apologizes if I missed something but looking at the deleted scenes I couldn't help but think that the character of Cheyenne should have been included. It would have given the edit a longer run time that I felt it deserved but I also feel the character of Harmonica needed someone to play off as his agenda is with Frank and not with Jill McBain.
Overall I felt this was a solid but unspectacular edit compared to TMBTM previous efforts; 7/10.
The second edit by CBB titled Two Glorious Bastards feels like watching a totally new film, compared to the original. If the music of Johnny Cash was going to be used to a particular genre then a Western would be it. The songs chosen are all very good and often tell the story were seeing on screen, only once with the inclusion of hurt did I feel was unnecessary.
Not once did I feel the character played by Lee Van Cleef was missing from the story his character is just as good as Good/Ugly. It would have been a nice touch to have him cameo in both films (even though Lee Van Cleef doesn't appear in OUATITW there is a train scene from A few Dollars more that could maybe have been used) if just to acknowledge the actor but also connect the two edits, but of course this may go against the editors intent for the edit.
The film The Good the Bad and the Ugly is a classic that is hard to improve on, this edit however doesn't try to do that but offers a classic alternative. 9/10 This is a great concept for a fanedit and isn't hard to see why it's considered a must have within the fanedit community.
The overall presentation is also very well done with the DVD menus and extras giving the edit a very professional look / feel. Overall score 8.5
Owner's replyDecember 17, 2012
Here what is my take on my Harmonica's edit:
Morton wants Frank dead, because he kows one day or aother Frank will kill him. So he is helping Harmonica, giving him money, during the train sequence.
The fact of removing Cheyenne during the whole movie had one big problem: it was Cheyenne who saved Harmonica's ass in the train. I had to find a way to get Harmonica out of this train.
And Morton helping Harmonica was the only way. I thought the smile on Harmonica's face when Morton is showing the money was enough for the audience to understand.
Later we see Harmonica deciding to use this money to win the auction in the only purpose to get Frank pissed off and meet him.
While the auction takes place, we see Morton "buying" Frank's men on the train to turn them against him. This is not a flashback it happens at the same time.
Morton giving them 500 dollars is only a "transition method" to go from one scene to another. Those are not the same 500 dollars. I understand it can be confuzing though.