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The Incredible Inman: Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West' was viewer's fly flick

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By David Inman
Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Question: I remember a Western that opens with several men waiting for the arrival of a train. The one scene I remember vividly is a close-up of one of the men, and, as he waiting, a fly lands on his face. I think, eventually, the train arrives and a man gets off the train, and proceeds to kill the men.

I thought it was a Sergio Leone movie — maybe with Clint Eastwood — but after renting most of those spaghetti Westerns I still haven't found it. Would you know what movie that is, and who stars in it?

Answer: You were on the right track (ha ha) in looking at Leone. The movie is 1968's “Once Upon a Time in the West,” directed by Leone and starring Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in one of his creepiest performances as a hired killer. The movie's pretty long, and Leone likes to pad things out with close-ups of flies landing on people's faces, but there are some stunning action sequences.

Q: On the March 11 episode of “Dallas,” there was a scene where Sue Ellen was reminiscing about J.R. Ewing while sitting in his bedroom. Can you tell me the name of the song that was playing during that scene?

A: The song is “The Bottom” by Tara Holloway.

Q: Can you tell me when “Longmire” and “The Glades” will return to A&E?

A: “Longmire” will be back for a second season. Production began in March. No official return date has been set, but the best bets are it'll be sometime this summer. Ditto for “The Glades” — it will be back for a fourth season, probably sometime this summer.

Q: When I was a kid in the 1950s, I saw a black-and-white sci-fi movie on TV that really scared me. The story was about an inventor who lived over an appliance store, and he created a monster with magnetic powers. In the final scene, the monster is secured behind a large steel wall, and is drawing every metallic object in the room to the wall. It is finally killed by giving it more electricity than it can “absorb.” Any idea of the title and if it's on DVD?

A: Sounds like “The Magnetic Monster,” a 1953 opus with Richard Carlson, King “King” Donovan and Jean Byron, with a dozen electric can openers as themselves. It's on DVD.

Q: After a trip to Alaska, my wife and I have been fascinated with watching all six seasons of “Northern Exposure.” We were wondering where the exterior scenes were filmed. I heard somewhere that it was a sound set outside of Vancouver. If not there, then where?

A: The exteriors for “Northern Exposure” were filmed in Washington state, in particular the small town of Roslyn. There was even a sign for the Roslyn Cafe, which the producers changed to “Roslyn's” for the series, since the show was supposed to take place in the town of Cicely.

Q: On a recent episode of “Modern Family,” Claire was in the hospital for tests and an older guy was in the bed next to her. His family showed up to visit, and they were all grown-up versions of Claire and Phil's kids. My question — was the actress who played the grown-up version of Haley the same actress who played Mallory on “Family Ties”?

A: Yep. That was Justine Bateman, all right.

Q: I was wondering if you could tell me the title of a TV movie I saw some time ago. The plot of the story goes like this: A man and his wife travel to New York City because he has an important job interview. While there, he and his wife are stranded overnight in downtown New York in an area where taxis won't travel after dark, and they're pursued by a street gang. It's a TV movie. Could you tell me the title and if it is on video or DVD?

A: It's probably “Final Jeopardy,” a movie which is a lot like the last round of “Jeopardy,” if you substitute angry street gangs for Alex Trebek. “Final Jeopardy” is a 1985 TV movie that stars Richard Thomas and Mary Crosby. It's not yet on video or DVD.

Q: I watched a movie in the late 1970s or early '80s but I can't remember the title, and it has been driving me nuts for years. No one I talk to has ever heard of it. The movie was about a unicorn that I believe that was found at a construction site. It was buried in a box with a mirror so that it saw its own reflection. Someone found the box, opened it, and all heck broke loose! The unicorn grew and I believe started killing people or something! It scared the bejeezus out of me, obviously to this day!! Did I dream this movie or was it real?

A: Man, that sounds like one angry unicorn.

Actually, this wasn't a movie, it was an episode of the NBC anthology series “Circle of Fear,” and it first aired in January 1973. It was titled “Dark Vengeance,” and it starred Martin Sheen as the construction guy.

And the box he brings home actually contains a white toy horse, not a unicorn. The white toy horse grows and grows and grows, and terrorizes Sheen's wife, played by Kim Darby.

Poor Darby — that same year she appeared in the cult classic TV movie “Don't Be Afraid of the Dark,” where she moves into a house and unwittingly releases little demons who live in the fireplace and try to abduct her.

Write David Inman in care of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, KY 40201-7431; or email him at Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.

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