10 Epic Moments In Sergio Leone Films

9. Jill Arrives In Town - Once Upon A Time In The West

Once Upon a Time in America Harmonica
Paramount Pictures

To understand the emotional circumstances of this scene from Once Upon a Time in the West, it is important to address the events leading up to Jill's arrival in the desert town of Flagstone.

Prior to her arrival, her new husband Brett McBain was preparing to welcome her to their new life in the remote land of Sweetwater. However before she arrives, Brett and his three children are slaughtered by the uncharacteristically evil Henry Fonda, who plays the cold blooded henchman Frank.

Upon her arrival in town, Jill is unaware of the terrible events that had occurred, leading to one of the most captivating sequences of Sergio Leone's career. As with all of Leone's films, the music of Ennio Morricone is critical to the brilliance of the director's storytelling. At first the music is jubilant and cheery, with Jill happy that she has finally arrived in the West. But those emotions do not last long, with the music swiftly transitioning into a much more haunting theme.

Accompanied by the exceptional operatic vocals of Edda Dell'Orso, Jill realises that something is wrong and proceeds to enter the station, as Leone raises the camera above the locale to showcase a panoramic shot of the bustling and hectic landscape of Flagstone. The sequence is captivating cinema and as emphasised beforehand, proves that words are not always needed to create a deeply emotional and epic film moment.


Film and history enthusiast, writing articles about some of cinema's best from both the past and present. Find me on Twitter @JThurstance