A few words about…™ – Once Upon a Time in the West — in 4k UHD

Once Upon a Time in the West Screenshot
Paramount is back, and they’ve outdone themselves with their new 4k UHD of Once Upon a Time in the West, a film so magnificent in every detail, that it begged for perfection, and received it.

Techniscope haters need not apply here, as I’ve been trying to raise public awareness that what has been seen in a few problematic transfer is Not what Techniscope is all about.

As shot by Tonino Delli Colli, presumably from a fully exposed negative, results on this disc are BLOODY GORGEOUS.

Acutely resolved, with brilliant colors and rich blacks, OUaTitW may the film that makes believers of naysayers. I recall seeing the film at Telluride forty years ago, and the quality has never left me.

Originally a monaural relese, the new disc sports a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is awe inspiring.

For those unaware, just grab a copy and be amazed. And be prepared for an opening that oddly harkens back to Psycho.

Extraordinary direction from Sergio Leone, a great score by Ennis Morricone, beautifully edited by Nino Baragli, and with a cast to die for:

Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn…

And a story by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Shot in Mexico, Arizona, Spain, Utah, Italy and Paramount Studios on Melrose.

An absolutely Amazing release!

Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 9

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 10

Slipcover rating – 3

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Robert has been known in the film industry for his unmatched skill and passion in film preservation. Growing up around photography, his first home theater experience began at age ten with 16mm. Years later he was running 35 and 70mm at home.

His restoration projects have breathed new life into classic films like Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, My Fair Lady, Spartacus, and The Godfather series. Beyond his restoration work, he has also shared his expertise through publications, contributing to the academic discourse on film restoration. The Academy Film Archive houses the Robert A. Harris Collection, a testament to his significant contributions to film preservation.

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mBen989

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Does the new disc have the proper music cue at the end and
Harmonica standing up after the opening shoot-out
?
 

Grubert

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Does the new disc have the proper music cue at the end and
Harmonica standing up after the opening shoot-out
?
I'm actually more interested in this than in the picture quality:

Did they put the 70 missing sec back in the opening scene?
Did they cut out that scene with Harmonica standing up? Please, please, please ...
Did they fix the score at the end?

Please Mr Harris, tell us ...
 

Robert Harris

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So it’s pretty good?
More or less.

I noted one bit of digital something in the sky in one shot, but so irrelevant to the whole project. The interesting thing is that original dye transfer prints were not grainy, and this reminds me of an original 35.

One becomes immediately drawn into the film. I believe the last time I saw a 35 projected was at the Woody Strode tribute. It’s Techniscope at its best, allowing a unique process to shine.
 

Robert Harris

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I'm actually more interested in this than in the picture quality:

Did they put the 70 missing sec back in the opening scene?
Did they cut out that scene with Harmonica standing up? Please, please, please ...
Did they fix the score at the end?

Please Mr Harris, tell us ...
This is the 165-66 minute cut.
 

Grubert

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Of course, both the old (and new?) Paramount master have nearly the same length as the original theatrical version. The differences are minor for the overall quality of the film, but they are there.

1. The Paramount misses 70 sec in the long opening sequence.

2. But has after the shoot-out at the train platform a short scene put in which shows that Bronson has survived, while theatrically there is a direct cut to the shotgun blast of McBain.

3. And in the last scene suddenly the Cheyenne theme is played, instead of playing the track called Finale to its end, which is just cut off before it ends. That does obviously not make any sense at all.

The put in short scene runs for about 95 sec, so that with the 70 sec min missing the runtime is nearly the same.

These are the 3 things which are wrong on all Paramount DVDs and Blus before, and I fear again in this new release?
 

arbogast

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I'm actually more interested in this than in the picture quality:

Did they put the 70 missing sec back in the opening scene?
Did they cut out that scene with Harmonica standing up? Please, please, please ...
Did they fix the score at the end?

Please Mr Harris, tell us ...
I like all three differences found in the 165 minute version:

1. The 70 or so missing seconds in the opening sequence take nothing away from the brilliant segment; their loss actually tightens up the sequence in a good way.

2. No defense for the Harmonica rising scene except that I like it and it reinforces Harmonica's toughness.

3. I don't like the original Italian finale/credit sequence treatment at all. There is a freeze frame done to allow the finale and the credits time to finish. In the 165 minute version, the finale is shortened, but the continuous shot that begins with Jill carrying water and ends with Harmonica and Cheyenne disappearing into the distance doesn't freeze, but goes to black. The shortened finale segues into Cheyenne's theme which is entirely appropriate as what we are watching at that point is Cheyenne (and Harmonica) riding off into the distance.

My reference for #1 and #3 above was an early Italian DVD (thanks for the help, Bruce!) of the longer cut. For the 165 minute version, I used Vudu's 4K digital version which is supposed to be the same version were are getting on the 4K blu-ray. The digital version is gorgeous so pre-ordering the new 4K disc was a no-brainer.

Scott
 

Grubert

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1. Yes, the difference is not that great, and I probably wouldn't have noticed, if I had not made a direct comparing between a VHS recording of the theatrical version and the Paramount DVD.
But attention, the longer cut is not the theatrical version, and in that one the opening runs for another 40 sec longer.
But for me there are several pretty nice shots in the theatrical which are gone. The so called "Scorsese version" put 20 sec of that back. Like Jack Elam's fingers tipping on his holster.

2. The including of this scene, the so called Rising scene, destroys one of the boldest narrative ideas of Leone. By which we have for another 25 min no idea what happened in the first scene, and then we got this magnificent shot which reveals that Bronson is alive. Which is much more effective without that Rising scene.
The Rising scene is something I really dislike, and it was quite a "cultural shock" ( ;) ) when I first saw it as part of the film.

3. There is no freeze frame in the theatrical version. The film runs exactly like in the Paramount, only the music is wrong for the last 2 minutes. And the placing of the credits is a bit different.
That the Cheyenne theme is played after his death is obviously wrong.
But there were 168 min versions, which have the Cheyenne theme as exit music over black film. And that is waht confused the Paramount guys back in 1984 when they recreated their master, and they made this dumb decision, to cut off the Finale.
In the long version is at this place, still after the film, after the track Finale has ended, indeed the Cheyenne theme over a freeze frame, over which the more detailed credits are running.

But whatever I like or not, that's the original theatrical version, the real DC, and it should be possible to get this one nowadays on disc. But so far it was released the last time on VHS, some decades ago.
 
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Grubert

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So the question again to Robert Harris, is this Rising scene again in?

And, if you like, check the ending for the score. This is at least the one thing for which I have no idea why Paramount still have kept it over the years. They made this obviously by mistake, and viewed from the film's inner logic it is obviously wrong. This is the easiest thing to change.
 

Carl David

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Damn it did not think this would be an improvement over the blu.

I will be homeless but at least I will have a copy of OUATITW 4k UHD in my rucksack.

Never seen RAH praise a release as much as this.
 

Ignacio

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The rising scene is included on the 4K HDTV version, supposedly from this master. I don't remember about the music cues at the ending, though.
 

yamato72

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Been waiting for this one. Hoping that I get it for father's day (I have dropped hints)
 

Grubert

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The rising scene is included on the 4K HDTV version,
Sigh ... ok, thanks, I feared so ...

It seems impossible to get rid of that scene, now that it's there for so many years.

Yeah it's only a small scene, but I stay with my 2005 DVD as long as it looks good enough on my TV.
 
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