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Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone Hardcover – July 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810958848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810958845
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Of Sergio Leone (1929–1989) and his legendary spaghetti westerns, director Martin Scorsese says, "he created a new genre... a major departure for Italian cinema." Frayling's history of Leone's life and work is a testament to that creation, an all-encompassing and carefully compiled book for fans and students. Besides telling the story of Leone's rise (in 1964, he made A Fistful of Dollars on $200,000 and some leftover film stock), the book contains interviews with composer Ennio Morricone, star Clint Eastwood and Leone himself. Morricone explains that he wrote musical scores for Leone's films without a script, drawing only on the story and Leone's take on the characters. Eastwood defines Leone's westerns as operatic, and great movie villain Lee Van Cleef reveals that he turned down a role in the now classic and critically revered Once Upon a Time in the West because he didn't like the way it was written. Along with intriguing comments by writers and directors, and an essay by Leone about his idol, John Ford, this work provides visually arresting production stills, lobby cards, pictorial source sketches, costume and set designs and posters. This is a work of scholarship and depth on the Italian western and the man who pioneered it. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sergio Leone had directed some dozen movies before his death in 1989, yet, almost entirely because of his five westerns, made between 1964 and 1971, constituting his take on an American cinematic mythology, his reputation remains lofty to this day. His second feature, A Fistful of Dollars, a violent yet humorous low-budget affair based on Kurosawa's samurai film yojimbo, became a runaway smash and launched the "spaghetti western" and the superstardom of erstwhile second-rate TV cowboy Clint Eastwood. Fistful's two sequels were even more popular, but the ambitious Once upon a Time in the West (1968) flopped when first released in studio-butchered form (later restored, it is now considered Leone's masterpiece). This book, which accompanies a Leone exhibition at the Museum of the American West (Los Angeles), offers essays on his westerns; a wealth of photos and posters; interviews with Leone, Eastwood, and others, including the director's indispensable musical collaborator, Ennio Morricone; and Leone's essay on John Ford, the only other director, perhaps, who marked the western genre as indelibly as did Leone. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Sir Christopher Frayling is a historian, critic, and award-winning broadcaster. He was chairman of Arts Council England from 2003 until 2010. He was knighted in 2001.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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So it's not just a book you want to flip though time and time again, you'll want to read it cover-to-cover.
Thomas W. Flynn
British film historian Christopher Frayling comes through with another book about the great, polarizing Italian director Sergio Leone.
Stephen Hawco
What I liked this book is the quality paper, graphic colors, high quality print, and color rendition of the retro movie posters.
arzewski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By P. Ferrigno on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There's no doubt that maverick Italian film director Sergio Leone deserves his place alongside other great western genre directors such as John Ford, Anthony Mann and Henry Hathaway......his operatic visual style, fast paced scripts filled with gallows humour, and filthy unshaven hero's (all filmed on shoestring budgets) breathed new life into the western film genre. This latest book on Leone and his work by British author, academic and Leone biographer, Christopher Frayling, is a sumptuous and comprehensive detailed tome that every Leone fan should have on their book shelf. ( Frayling has also written the superb "Sergio Leone: Something To Do With Death" and "Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone" )

Frayling draws upon a remarkable volume of interviews that he has conducted over the past three decades to paint a picture of a visionary director who reignited interest in the western genre at a time when US studios considered cowboys only fit for low budget TV shows. As most any Leone fan could recite in his sleep, Sergio was the son of "Vincenzo Leone", one of Italy's cinematic pioneers, and in his late teens he began working as an assistant director on both European and US productions (predominantly sword and sandal films), but he then gravitated to script writing and directed his first feature film in 1959. Further influenced by the visually dynamic films of legendary Japanese director "Akira Kurosawa", Leone eventually transplanted "Yojimbo" and "Sanjuro" to western settings, recruited "Rawhide" star Clint Eastwood as the nomadic uber-gunfighter, and launched a new breed of western film that was dirtier, more violent, the main characters were anti-hero's and nearly everyone got their comeuppance at the film's conclusion.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Thomas W. Flynn on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sergio Leone has long been associated with the much-maligned Spaghetti Western genre, a movie category that he did not create but one that he perfected. But his work easily transcends simple Italian Westerns. By mixing extreme close-ups with breathtaking widescreen vistas, Leone created an unmistakable style that few, if any, directors have matched. Sadly, critical reviews of his work have been few but far between. The flag bearer has always been Christopher Frayling, an English Professor of Cultural History. It's no surprise that the foremost Leone expert is an Englishman: many of Leone's films have been extensively edited, in fact butchered, when released in America. Frayling's latest, "Once Upon A Time In Italy: The Westerns Of Sergio Leone," is quite simply an essential purchase for any Leone fan. The companion volume to an exhibit at the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, this 240-page coffe table book is packed with rare photos and full-color international movie posters that will have any Leoneist drooling. And the interviews are to die for: Leone himself, Ennio Morricone, Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Claudia Cardinale, Carlo Simi, Tonini Delli Colli, Martin Scorsese and more provide a bounty of behind-the-scenes info. So it's not just a book you want to flip though time and time again, you'll want to read it cover-to-cover. Long Live Leone!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By arzewski on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What I liked this book is the quality paper, graphic colors, high quality print, and color rendition of the retro movie posters. With intimate interviews, it also reveals the behind-the-scenes touches here and there that made this genre so different from hollywood. Included are interviews to set designers and stylists, with illustrations of sketches of sets, costumes. I was always touched by the "grunge" feel of the clothes worn by the actors, a torn shirt with holes and loose buttons, dirty boots. As one poster says: "he smokes short cigars, he has a long gun, he wears a poncho", and the interviews reveal how the "leone style" was created. Unfortunately there is no english translation of "L'avventurosa storia del cinema italiano raccontata dai suoi protagonisti" (Vol 2, 1981, Feltrinelli, F. Fofi), but this book beautifully selects the best of that time in a high-quality printed production.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Hawco on October 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
British film historian Christopher Frayling comes through with another book about the great, polarizing Italian director Sergio Leone.

This book is medium on actual reading material but heavy on pictures- big, colorful, beautiful reproductions of film posters from the last 40 years. It only covers Leone's five Spaghetti Westerns (or Italian Westerns) that he directed, extensively. It briefly mentions the one he produced. Any true fan of Leone's Man with No Name trilogy will love this book.

If you are a big Sergio Leone fan, please read Frayling's masterful biography of him, "Something to Do with Death," available on Amazon.

Now, the nerd aspect: You may not want to pay for this book unless you actually understand movies. Frayling knows enough to interview people like the Director of Photography, but most Americans don't even know what that means. If you can name Leone's famous Production Designer, this is definitely the book for you.

Also, it is a joy to hear what went into "Once Upon a Time in the West," the finest Italian Western ever made and Leone's only true masterpiece.
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