Monday, June 13, 2005

June 13, 2005
Well, the word just came in the office (2:21 PM) that Michael Jackson is innocent of all charges. It kind of makes you feel good as an American to know that today, virtually all races can buy their way out of trouble.

The name of the book I’m reading is “The Art of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West: A Critical Appreciation,” by John Fawell. And here’s a gem from the Master, Leone, on why “The Culpepper Cattle Company” failed: “Because they did not find in it what they were looking for: the fable.”

With that said, I must say it was both a joy and a chore to watch the movie. The opening with the errant fly (and Jack Elam’s errant eye) and the creaking windmill and the water dripping on Woody Strode’s head and the thousand railroad ties roughly lined up (evidently leftover lumber from Orson Welle’s failed Falstaff production at the Almeria, Spain film location), the outlaws framed in the doorways (stolen, or borrowed if you prefer, from John Ford) were magnificent, as was the crane shot of Claudia Cardinale walking out the door of the train station and the sweeping panorama of Flagstone (obviously lifted from Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona), but by the time of the killing of the McBane family (Leone panicked and called in his screenwriter to help him cut scenes because he realized his pace and style were beyond languid), it really, really drags. And while there are some classic lines here and there, for my money “The Good, The Bad And the Ugly” is twice the film for one reason: it had humor. Eli Wallach’s Tuco is magnificent and damn funny. None of that here. Just heavy plotting and talking in mathematics.

My original take on the movie still stands: Charles Bronson playing the harmonica is silly and that his name is Harmonica is even sillier. I have to agree with Clint Eastwood who once said, “Serge Leone knows nothing about the real American West.” So there. I still enjoyed it however. And I’m not done watching it yet (I’m just up to the auction).

The August issue is going out the door, on time as ever time. Robert Ray is the employee of the month, and this is why.

”The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”
—George Miller

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