Introduction: Sergio Leone (04:57)
This episode of “The Directors” examines the work of Sergio Leone. The Italian auteur is known for spaghetti westerns that include “A Fistful of Dollars,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.”
Early Life and Career (02:40)
Leone was born in born on Jan. 3, 1929 in Rome. His father, Vincenzo, was a silent film director, and his mother was an actress. He spent time hanging around Cinecittá Studios where he worked as an uncredited assistant on Vittorio De Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves.”
Sword-and-Sandal Films (05:33)
Leone took over directing “The Last Days of Pompeii” after his father’s friend, Mario Bonnard, left the project early. He got his first directing credit for “The Colossus of Rhodes.” He decided to attempt a western next since peplum was going out of fashion.
Game-Changing Western (04:22)
Leone directed “A Fistful of Dollars,” patterning its plot on Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai epic, “Yojimbo.” Clint Eastwood plays a renegade outlaw who is drawn into a conflict between two rival families. The movie changed how westerns were filmed.
Classic Sequel (04:15)
Leone reunited with Eastwood to make “For a Few Dollars More” in 1965. The story follows bounty hunters who form an uneasy partnership to track down a villain, who is again played by Gian Maria Volantè.
Completing the Trilogy (03:43)
Leone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was released in 1966. The film was a hit in the United States and turned Eastwood into a major star. Composer Ennio Morricone studied scenes as he created his iconic score.
Another Classic Western (05:14)
Leone next directed “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which stars Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Henry Fonda. Audiences were shocked to see Fonda play a ruthless killer. The film references directors Fred Zinnemann, Howard Hawks, and John Ford.
Humorous Spaghetti Western (05:00)
Leone depicted the Mexican Revolution in “Duck, You Sucker,” which stars Rod Steiger and James Coburn. The story follows a gangster who teams up with a member of the Irish Republican Army to blow up a bank with unexpected results.
Final Film, Legacy (08:51)
“Once Upon a Time in America,” starring Robert De Niro, was the gangster movie Leone had wanted to make since the late ‘60s. The direct was upset when the Ladd Company cut the film without his input. The director was planning a trilogy of war films when he died.
Credits: Serio Leone (00:40)
Credits: Serio Leone
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