Sergio Leone

April 7, 2011

Sergio Leone

There’s not much new to add to what’s already been said about Leone. I think he’s a great stylist, but there’s nothing really deep in his films (not that it’s a requirement, so I don’t wanna hear a bunch of guff about the hidden meanings and metaphors in a Leone film. He puts it all out there. You want a deep discussion on hidden meanings and metaphors, write me a book report on Georges Perec’s Life a Users Manual, or Thomas Bernhard’s Gargoyles. Oops, I went on a rant there).
I think Sergio has moments where there’s something more to his work than composition and style, but they don’t permeate entire films. With that aside. His films are pure cinema, enjoyable and a must-see.

A Fistful of Dollars – Sergio’s first Kurosawa “homage.” Gave Clint “Rowdy Yates” Eastwood the biggest exposure of his career outside America (not counting his uncredited walk-on in Tarantula)

For a Few Dollars More – Kurosawa take 2. Lee Van Cleef makes an appearance, and so does wacky Klaus Kinski.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – I think this is the best of the trilogy. It is epic in scope with great performances. Ennio Morricone’s score is still riffed on to this day.

Once Upon A Time In The West – This is also very good. Henry Fonda is a bad guy?! Clever Mr. Leone. Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento worked on the story for this one.

A Fistful of Dynamite (“Duck You Sucker”) – The IRA vs. the Mexican Revolution. This isn’t bad, but I would’ve preferred Eli Wallach over Rod Steiger.

Once Upon A Time In America – The original American release was horrendously re-edited by the studio. Get the uncut DVD. With that said, I still think this is a flawed final film from Leone. I think there are some people who are really miscast (Elizabeth McGovern, Tuesday Weld to name a couple). And I still can’t wrap my head around Jimmy Woods being a Jewish gangster. There are some terrific cinematic flourishes in here (the opening telephone ringing scene is great), but other areas fall flat. It must be hard making an American film about an American subject, when you don’t really speak the language. There’s something “off” about this one. I still recommend it.

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