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Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death
     

Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death

by Frayling
 

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The first biography of the Italian director who reinvented the film Western with his series of "spaghetti" westerns.

The Italian film director Sergio Leone reinvented the American Western with his movie A Fistful of Dollars, a spare reworking of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese outlaw drama Yojimbo transferred to the Texas-Mexican border. In doing so, Leone also

Overview

The first biography of the Italian director who reinvented the film Western with his series of "spaghetti" westerns.

The Italian film director Sergio Leone reinvented the American Western with his movie A Fistful of Dollars, a spare reworking of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese outlaw drama Yojimbo transferred to the Texas-Mexican border. In doing so, Leone also created a new kind of Western protagonist--silent, mysterious, morally ambiguous--and found a new star to embody this new archetype: Clint Eastwood.

Leone's entire life pointed toward his reinvention of the American Western: he grew up during the Nazi occupation of Italy, a period in which he saw terrible parallels to the traditional Western. When he was in a position to direct his own films, the low budget of his first "spaghetti" Western meant that he could only afford to hire a relatively unknown American actor, Clint Eastwood, to star in A Fistful of Dollars, which has been credited with reviving the Western as a credible film genre in the 1960s. This book is the first to document not only Leone's life but also to explore fully the development--and phenomenon--of the Italian film Western. In addition, Christopher Frayling examines Leone's late masterwork, Once Upon a Time in the West, which TimeOut says "ranks among the greatest examples of 'pure cinema' in the history of the medium."

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sergio Leone is identified with spaghetti Westerns--violent, visually imaginative Sixties and Seventies films that exploded the clich s of the Hollywood Western. Leone brought stardom to TV actor Clint Eastwood, who was cast as an antihero alien to Westerns and who admitted that Leone "really doesn't know anything about the West." Instead, the director's West existed as a sort of fever dream, and his tales, the author notes, were "fairy-tales for grown-ups." In the first detailed study of this original director, Frayling (Spaghetti Westerns) explores Leone's years of apprenticeship on American films shot in Italy, such as Ben Hur and sword-and-sandal epics like Colossus of Rhodes, which refined Leone's distinctive visual storytelling style. His imagination, however, was fired by the classic Westerns of John Ford. Frayling discusses the director's offbeat humor and considers the charges of misogyny and excessive violence without defending him. These features were evident in Leone's last film, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), an all-star gangster saga that confounded critics and admirers. This informative look at an underappreciated director should spark reappraisals of his work. Recommended for all film collections.--Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
A. Tayler
Frayling's fair-minded, clearly structured and entertaining book makes it clear that Leone was certainly a major director. It is, in addition, a fitting monument to his cinema "of recognition and surprise"—a cinema which retains something of its original impact, even now that the stand-offs and letterbox close-ups have become clichés in their own right.
Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780571164387
Publisher:
Faber and Faber
Publication date:
07/28/2000
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.75(d)

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