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After seeing Ramón Rojo, El Indio and Angel Eyes from Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy get approved, I'm surprised Frank from 1968 spaghetti western classic Once upon a time in the west isn't proposed yet.

What's the work?

Sergio Leone's 1968 spaghetti western classic Once upon a time in the west set somewhere within the final years of western era when a massive railroad is being constructed and is about to put aside the outlaws of the old era.

Who is the candidate? What he did?

Frank, the main antagonist of the movie, is a vicious former outlaw turned enforcer for the railroad tycoon, Mr. Morton. His first appearance is one of the most dramatic and intense villain entrances in film history. After he and his men slaughter an innocent farmer named McBain and his teenage daughter and teenage son, Frank proceeds to gun down the preschool-aged son of McBain with a smile on his face simply because one of his men addressed him by name. They do this atrocious act while wearing long brown robes and sombreros which are a trademark for Cheyenne and his men, another group of outlaws in the movie, thus framing him for the massacre.

Later, Mr. Morton berates Frank for killing McBain family because he only hired Frank and his men for scaring anyone who isn't willing to sell off their properties. Frank's response? "People scare better when they're dying". Mr. Morton intends to make peace with the young widow of Mr. McBain, Jill (not the mother of his children), but Frank deliberately sabotages this, betraying Mr. Morton and having his men take him hostage with the intention on killing him later and take over the railroad project. Frank then goes himself to the McBain farm and blackmails Jill into having sex with him in exchange for sparing her life. When the farm is being auctioned later, Frank sends his men into the auction as a means for keeping the bidders silent, as they are too terrified of Frank for opposing him.

Frank goes back to Mr. Morton's place with the intent on murdering him in revenge for turning Frank's men against him, only to see that Cheyenne had killed everyone else after the auction in order to escape being hanged for the massacre he didn't commit. Frank finds Mr. Morton being shot but still alive and decides to let him bleed to death for fun. Finally, in the climax he and the nameless avenger simply known as "Harmonica" engage in a duel. It is then revealed in a flashback that Frank was the one who Harmonica owns his namesake to, having encountered him and his brother a long time ago when Frank was still a marauding bandit. Forcing his grown-up brother standing on top of teenage Harmonica's shoulders with a noose tied around his neck, Frank then gleefully observed as Harmonica, exhausted, lost his composure and fell onto his knees, thus indirectly hanging his brother. And as a touch of black comedy, Frank put a harmonica between the boy's lips in order to "keep your loving brother happy". Harmonica wins the duel, killing Frank and reminding him of who he really is and why he hated him so much in the first place.

Other more minor, yet noteworthy actions Frank commits during the movie are

- killing one of his men he didn't trust for simply no other reason that he likes killing

- arranging a meeting with Harmonica twice, only to send his men in his place to try and kill him

Freudian Excuse/Mitigating Factors

None. No reason is ever given to Frank's actions, he is just a sadistic brute who enjoys killing and especially when he is paid for it.

There are couple of instances he decides to spare someone's life but it's always out of cruel mercy and never out of compassion. He let the young Harmonica live after the hanging of his brother but only because he wanted him to live with the thought of indirectly killing his brother. It's heavily implied that Harmonica's brother was his only living relative and his death left him with deep emotional scars to the point that taking his revenge on Frank was the only reason for him to keep on living. He also did intend to let McBain's youngest son live as long as his name wasn't mentioned for a similar motive: for wanting the kid to live after taking everything away from him. Letting Mr. Morton bleed to death instead of giving him a clean death: this speaks for itself.

Heinous Standard

Being a gritty spaghetti western, the heinous standard is somewhat high but Frank manages to be far worse than anyone else. Cheyenne is an outlaw and a killer himself too, but he is openly repulsed by someone who kills children. Harmonica is a vengeful gunman who is only after Frank and his men. Mr. Morton is a corrupt businessman but hates needless slaughter and considers Frank nothing more than an animal.

As a side note, I'd like to point out that Frank was portrayed by the late legendary Henry Fonda, whom Leone cast as Frank simply because he wanted the American audience to be upset by the fact that Fonda, a famous actor for good guys, was a ruthless child-hating murderer this time. It worked so well that some even left the theater during the farm massacre. He is easily one of my favorite movie antagonists and is often considered one of the most iconic villains of his era.


An easy yes.

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