Maybe it's because Zodiac has been on my mind so much lately, but when I watched OUATITW I couldn't help but be reminded of Fincher's deliberately paced masterpiece from earlier this year. They are both grand epic movies that are more about how a handful of characters react to an unstoppable force (a phantom of a killer in Zodiac, the westward expansion of modern America in OUATITW). This led me to naturally compare the filmmakers themselves. Both have an unerring eye for cinematic detail. Reportedly Leone spent hours setting up the shot of water falling onto the gunmans hat in the opening sequence. Here's a quote from Fincher regarding his directing style
“If an actor is going to let the role come to them, they can’t resent the fact that I’m willing to wait as long as that takes. You know, the first day of production in San Francisco we shot 56 takes of Mark and Jake – and it’s the 56th take that’s in the movie”
Apart from their methods and styles both directors had a similar impact on their respective cinematic climates. Se7en is to the police procedural what Fistful of Dollars is to the western. Both made us look at their respective genres in new ways and reinvigorated them. Zodiac and OUATITW are both more mature revisits to that earlier genre that shows a patience and an even greater understanding of cinema. Also like Zodiac, OUATITW is a better film than the respective directors earlier efforts, but most likely will never receive the public admiration that it deserves.
Some personal highlights:
Henry Fonda as a bad guy.
Jason Robards as a bad ass.
Charles Bronson not playing a caricature of himself.
9 pair of pants (with both belt and suspenders) out of 10