The 50th anniversary of Fistful of Dollars . . .

leone

 

. . . has led to considerable recognition for the accomplishments of director Sergio Leone. The American Film Institute had an event showing Leone’s westerns this July:

Sergio Leone
July 3–27

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, which launched Sergio Leone to international stardom (the film’s young star, Clint Eastwood, made out okay, too), AFI Silver presents this selection of the filmmaker’s finest films. Look for a new restoration of Leone’s magnum opus, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, out later this year.

The Cinémathèque in Paris is currently showing a retrospective of his work now:

Epic gunfights. Epic running times. Sweeping panoramas of the Wild West (often, in fact, Spain). Harmonicas on the soundtrack. Extreme close-ups and huge depth of field. Trains. Horses. Scowling hitmen with beards. Few cinematic languages are as distinct as that of Sergio Leone, the late Italian maestro of the Spaghetti Western.

Like Stanley Kubrick or David Lean, Leone was a perfectionist who obsessed over style in the manner of a master artisan. Consequently, like those two, he didn’t complete many films in his career. The seven movies that he helmed in his forty-year career form a coherent set: centred as it is on the Spaghetti Western genre, an homage to the Hollywood Western which is itself founded on the shaky fables of the Wild West, his oeuvre is preoccupied with nostalgia and myth. Many of his works, such as the Eastwood-starring ‘Man With No Name’ trilogy, pay tribute to the tropes of early Hollywood cinema while subtly subverting them; his best film, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West‘, threw its audience by casting erstwhile heartthrob Henry Fonda as a sadistic baddie.

Most interesting were the outtakes from Fistful of Dollars (1964) that surface this summer courtesy of the Cineteca Bologna:

 

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