Not many films get better with age. If you don't agree this is one of them, meet me outside. Let's celebrate its 40th birthday by forgetting all the indignities it has endured (studio-inflicted cuts, idiotic reviews) and appreciate the opportunity to see a gorgeous new restoration of a "classic" that's still one of the most enjoyable movies ever made: Bronson, Cardinale, Fonda, and Robards; Morricone's unforgettable score; images of Monument Valley that rival John Ford's. Right from the opening sequence-a quintet for three gunslingers, a fly, and a creaking windmill-it's clear we're being told a story whose familiar elements will appear in a new way: the gunmen are photographed either in long shot or in extreme close-up, the enormous 'scope screen overflows with giant images of a gun barrel, an eyeball, or . . . a fly! This unusual film was born in an unusual way. After the financial success of his first three spaghetti Westerns, Leone decided to try something more personal, so he invited two young filmmakers-Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci-to write the story for his next film, and for months the three met to "dream together." Agreeing that the Western is the cinematographic genre par excellence, they discussed the American movies they loved, Hollywood dreams, and historical reality. The extraordinary film that resulted is a unique blending of popular fiction, the primal "once upon a time" impulses common to all storytelling, and the Marxist ideas so in vogue in the late '60s. And "something to do with death."