When I first saw Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West it was a mid-1970s revival at an L.A. art house. Unfortunately, the wrong projection lens was used so Henry Fonda appeared even more lean than usual. The film is one great set piece after another, but a stand-out is a "young" Charles Bronson laboring to keep his brother from a Fonda-instigated hanging. It takes place beneath a Spanish Mission-type bell tower--or a bell beneath an arch, more precisely. Hollywood has always been fascinated with church bell towers. Alfred Hitchcock recreated a tower at California's Mission San Juan Batista so that Jimmy Stewart's character would be forced to conquer his acrophobia in Vertigo--at Kim Novak's expense. So many bad guys dropped dead in front of the original mission at Old Tucson--with its classic adobe belfry--it should have come with a warning sign: Caution: Audie Murphy Ahead.
In the photo above, the tower is a kind of detached companario, adjacent a red-tiled church in the shade--if you want to call it that--of a well-tended tamarisk. It's not near Tucson, and barely in southern Arizona, but not hard to find if you're on the right highway. It's sacred and peaceful, and they probably don't want film crews doing a Hitchcock on their lawn, but it reminded me of many an evening at the cineplex.