Me and “Once Upon A Time In The West” – An Epic Journey/A Sordid Confession



rexknobus (who writes as “K.T. Beck”) spent two years in the Marine Corps, three years in nurse's training and earned a degree in Journalism/Film at a major university. He has worked as an E.R. orderly, an offset press operator, a legal secretary, and designed mapping systems for the Human Genome Project. He is the author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the writer of numerous critically acclaimed feature screenplays and award-winning documentary films. His science writing was funded by NASA, NOAA, and the NSF. He eluded a police chase in Budapest, and excavated an ancient burial site in a jungle. Luckily for him, at the last minute, George decided not to shoot him and he now raises rabbits and lives off the “fatta’ the land.”

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Cleveland Watson says:

    I am fortunate to have never seen the original, butchered, theatrical release. This is one of my favorite films. Incredible photography. So many great, understated moments, and so much that depends on great acting to communicate thoughts and feelings without any dialogue. And yes – that look on Harmonica’s face as he says, “Someday” while he looks off into infinity. Gets me every time.

    On YouTube there’s a video by a fan – Herve Attia – who visited most of the original shooting locations, and at each, shows shots juxtaposed from the film and at the time of his visit. It’s a fascinating trip into the past.


    • Avatar rexknobus says:

      Love that video! On a recent trip to Utah/Monument Valley I used it and screen captures to find favorite shooting angles. I’m lucky — femrex is very tolerant of such depravities!Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    I actually watched the beginning of this movie this weekend. I love the first 15 or so minutes. There’s little speaking, all visual, with the creak of the windmill. And Bronson says “no, you brought 2 too many horses”

    Love that scene.Report

    • Avatar rexknobus says:

      It has one of the longest credits rolls in film history — all with the squeaking windmill. On my first viewing it was when I started to worry — the previous Leone films all had exciting music and graphics for their opening credits. Not OUATITW.

      On some of my early viewings, while still in the service, friends would accompany me to see it. (Almost always against my explicit advice. I knew they’d hate it). And after the viewing, on more than one occasion, they would physically attack me. (Not kidding — rough/tough Marines, you know). And while they were hitting me, bruising my shoulders, invariably they would be imitating the squeaking windmill sounds. That’s what stuck with them. Ahhh, those were the days…Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I haven’t watched this in ages. Now, I will go back.

    Thank you.Report

  4. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    First, this is a great piece of writing. Another reason to continue visiting this site.

    Second, I’ve always enjoyed this movie because it had Henry Fonda as the bad guy. You never saw that in any of his movies. And what a ruthless bad guy he was!Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Not sure what the relationship is, if any, but I do love this song.


  6. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    This is totally unrelated to the post (which I loved, BTW, I’ve just never seen the movie and I am not a big fan of Westerns, so I can’t offer too much related commentary), but:

    Please don’t thank me for my service. I did you no service at all.

    Do you still feel weird when people thank you for it? I do, all the time. I know most of them mean well, but still…Report

    • Avatar rexknobus says:

      Yeah, I really do. It took many years for femrex to actually hear me when I told her that she didn’t have to say anything to me on November 11. She meant well, but…

      And I guess that’s sort of the problem. They mean well. They are truly expressing their heartfelt belief and, if they are talking to me, then they are probably friends or someone that matters. It isn’t right, it feels off, I don’t need or want it. But I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings as they are trying to do a good thing. Probably not much of a sacrifice, having to listen to someone’s well-wishes. But, yeah, weird.

      Hey, if our paths ever cross, maybe you can take me out shooting. It’s been a long time, and, whatever else one can say, it is fun. I’ll buy you a beer and I won’t thank you for anything…Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Brother, you ever find yourself in the Seattle area, let me know. We can shoot at powder balloons and swap sea stories.

        Or in the Phoenix area* anytime between 07/1/18 & 07/01/19.

        *Wife is relocating us for a year for her job. I can work from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection.Report

        • Avatar rexknobus says:

          We are known to hit the road at odd times, mostly headed west. Zion Nat’l Park is our favorite. When living in LA, we used to go there a couple of times a year. Grand Canyon, Saguaro, etc., down south, Yellowstone, Tetons, Glacier up north. If we get a wild hair, I’ll let you know. Thanks!Report

    • Avatar Jason says:

      I do–I want to say “I did keep the country safe from a LOT of beer.”Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dude. This was a great post.Report

  8. Avatar Anne says:

    Fantastic post! Now to convince my husband on a Sergio Leone Film FestReport

  9. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Started this earlier and finally finished it. I’m glad I did. Amazing story and terrific writing.Report

    • Avatar rexknobus says:

      Supposedly Mr. Leone and his collaborators on the script (Bertolucci, Donati, Argento) came up with a 300-page treatment/story outline, which would explain how all the nooks and crannies not explored in the film still feel as if they have lots of stuff in them. I don’t know if the 300-page thing actually exists, but I would learn Italian and personally clean up the Tiber to read it!Report

  10. Avatar George Turner says:

    Here’s the obligatory clip of Patricia Janeckova singing the theme in a Czech talent show.Report