37. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
directed by Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone was a director whose ability to create suspense rivaled that of Hitchcock. Waiting for a train to reach the station has never been so fraught with tension. Long, silent shots of murderous eyes. Twitching hands ready to draw at a moment’s notice. An emotional musical score that almost singlehandedly elevated the material to operatic proportions. These are the things that one remembers from Once Upon a Time in the West, along with the tough-as-nails characters, whose motivations are as simple as they are unbending. Strange that it would take an Italian to so fully realize the most American of genres.