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Sergio Leone (1929 1989)

Lifespan: 1929 - 1989

Related: spaghetti westerns - Ennio Morricone - Italian cinema

Titles: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) - Sergio Leone

Biography

Sergio Leone (January 3, 1929 April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director. Born in Rome, he was the son of the cinema pioneer Vincenzo Leone and the actress Francesca Bertini, and started working in the film industry himself at the age of eighteen.

He began writing screenplays in the 1950s, primarily for the so-called "sword and sandal" or "peplum" historical epics which were popular at the time. He also worked as an assistant director on several large-scale, high-profile Hollywood productions, a.k.a. runaway productions, filmed at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, notably Quo Vadis (1951), and Ben-Hur (1959). As a result, when the time came to make his solo directoral debut with The Colossus of Rhodes (Il Colosso di Rodi) 1961, he was well equipped to produce low-budget films which looked and felt like Hollywood spectaculars.

In the early 1960s, demand for historical epics collapsed, and Leone was fortunate enough to be at the forefront of the genre which replaced it in the public's affections - the Western. His A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari) (1964) was an early trend-setter in a genre which came to be known as the "spaghetti western". Based closely enough on Akira Kurosawa's medieval samurai adventure Yojimbo (1961) to elicit a legal challenge from the Japanese director, the film is notable for its establishment of Clint Eastwood as a star. Until that time, he had been an American television actor with few roles to his name.

His next two films - For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) - completed what has come to be known as "The Dollars Trilogy", with each film being more financially successful and more technically proficient than its predecessor. All three films featured remarkable scores by the prolific composer Ennio Morricone.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Leone [May 2005]

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