Born January 3, 1929 in Rome,Sergio Leonewas an Italian film director best known for his popularization of the “spaghetti western”, a subgenre of films that were made in Italy, but set in the American West in the 19th century.
Son of Roberto Roberti (known in the environment as Vincenzo Leone) a pioneer of the film industry and actress Bice Valerian,LeoneHe got involved in Italian cinema at a young age. He worked for years as an assistant to Italian directors and American directors, such as Fred Zinnemann, Robert Wise, William Wyler and Raoul Walsh, who worked in Italy.
LeoneHe was a second unit director in several productions and collaborated as a scriptwriter forNel segno di Roma(1959) andGli ultimi giorni di Pompei(1959; The last days of Pompeii). ElectedIl Colosso di Rodi(1961; The Colossus of Rhodes), a pseudohistorical epic, for his directorial debut.
For a Handful of Dollars (1964), his second film, was the first of his stylized violent westerns. It was based on Yojimbo (1961)Akira Kurosawa
and had as protagonistClint eastwood
as a stoic and ruthless antihero. This movie was a huge success and made Eastwood an international movie star; It also spawned two sequels:For a few dollars more
(1965) andthe good, the bad and the ugly
(1966). The last film in the trilogy is considered the best and is often described as a masterpiece, as isOnce upon a time in the west
(1968), starringHenry fonda
and filmed in Utah and Arizona. These films were very financially successful and attracted large audiences around the world. At first they were poorly received by critics, but eventuallyLeone
He was recognized for his meticulous care for historical accuracy and his powerful sense of visual composition.
His last western,The heroes of Mesa Verde(1971), set during the Mexican Revolution, received less attention but came to be seen as equally dignified.
he turned down the opportunity to direct The Godfather (1972), in favor of working on another gangster story he had conceived earlier. He devoted ten years to this project, based on the novel The Hoods by former mobster Harry Gray, which focused on a quartet of Jewish gangsters from New York City from the 1920s and 1930s who had been friends since childhood. The finished four-hour movie,Once upon a Time in America
(1984), featured performances byRobert De Niro
. It was a meditation on another aspect of American popular mythology, the role of greed and violence and its uneasy coexistence with the meaning of ethnicity and friendship.