Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone (b. 1929, Rome; d. 1989, Rome) son of Roberto Roberti, an Italian silent screen pioneer, entered films as a teenager. During the 1950s he began writing screenplays for Biblical and Roman epics, much in vogue at the time. He was assistant to William Wyler on Ben Hur (1959) and to Robert Aldrich on Sodom and Gomorrah (1961). In 1961 he made The Colossus of Rhodes. Thanks to his extensive experience he managed to create a Hollywood blockbuster on a relatively small budget. His second film, A Fistful of Dollars (1964) marked his international breakthrough. Credited under the name of Bob Robertson, in memory of his father, the film drew heavily on Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimba. Thus began a long career in rewriting mythical history, reconstructing the heroic figure and, ultimately, the western genre. Boosted to stardom by Leone’s films, Clint Eastwood embodied the perfect antihero, a complex character with a touch of self-irony. Another person whose talents came to be linked with the films of that time was Ennio Morricone, whose musical themes have left an indelible mark on cinema history and audiences’ memories. The film is the first of a “dollar trilogy” that includes For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Long in planning, Leone’s first American film, Once upon a Time in the West (1968), recounts the decline of the myth of the American frontier and features an extraordinary cast including Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson. His next was Duck, you Sucker (USA) (1971), set in Mexico at the time of Villa and Zapata, where the political references plainly abound. The following two decades were fairly quiet, except for Once up a Time in America (1984), a masterpiece portrait of an epoch and a friendship, framed in the gangster movie genre of the Prohibition era. Struck by a sudden hear attack, Leone left two unfinished projects: The 900 Days about the WWII siege of Leningrad and A Place Only Mary Knows about the American Civil War.

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