Best Films of Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone, Italian filmmaker

Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, an undisputed master of style in the world of cinema, is widely revered as one of the greatest showmen of the 20th century. In his two-decade long career, Leone could only make a handful of movies, but such was his mastery over his art that each one of them serves to be a masterpiece within its own right. At the beginning of his career, Leone quickly got renowned as a master of style. Leone started off by imitating Akira Kurosawa's filmmaking methods but gradually succeeded in developing his own trademark style. Leone's first major work was ‘A Fistful of Dollars (1964)’the first installment in 'The Dollars Trilogy' and a rip-off of Akira Kurosawa's 1961 samurai flick, Yojimbo. The movie's success was greatly marred when Kurosawa sued the production house, which was forced to pay $50000 as compensation. Leone, however, bounced back with the second edition of The Dollars Trilogy: ‘For a Few More Dollars’. Leone's penchant for technical novelty helped cinema attain new heights as he, in collaboration with the likes of master composer Ennio Morricone and celebrated cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, added new dimensions to cinematography, screenplay and background music. In the glamorous world of cinema, which rides high on its structural inertia, it seldom happens that a mere whim succeeds in subverting the paradigm. Incredibly, that's exactly what Leone single-handedly accomplished. Leone changed the very face of the American Old Westdriven by the tenets of pride, honor, chivalry and machismopreached and propagated by the likes of Ford, Hawks and Wayne by limning a far more brutal and realistic picture of the West where greed and lust reigned supreme, and where things transcended the stereotypical demarcations of black, white, virtue and vice. 

With ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, the third and final installment in The Dollars Trilogy, Leone perpetuated what would become his trademark: 'Spaghetti Western'. Initially used in a derogatory connotation, the term 'Spaghetti Western' soon became a substitute for Italo-Western, before getting widely accepted as a sub-genre of Western films. Leone's peculiar style also inspired a hybrid stream in Western film-making—an intermediate between the old Western genre and Leone's Spaghetti Westernbest exemplified by Sam Peckinpah's classic Anti-Western, The Wild Bunch (1969) and Clint Eastwood's epic Western, Unforgiven (1992). Leone's distinctive style included juxtapositions, super close-ups, long continuous shots, quick panning and unpanning of the terrain, and rotating camera shots. Leone's collaboration with master composer Ennio Morricone gave cinema some of its greatest compositions, as background music no longer remained merely music with the advent of the 'Spaghetti Sound'a symphonic orchestration of quotidian sounds like that of the dripping water, the clicking of a telegraph, the buzzing sound of a fly, the screeching sound of a windmill, etc. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) elevated Leone from the position of a showman to a serious moviemaker—an auteur capable of making profound works of cinema. Leone had to wait for almost two decades, during which he made many commercially viable films in order to cater to whims of his producers, in order to get the funding for his dream project and magnum opus, Once Upon a time in America, which ironically is not as renowned as his ‘Spaghetti’ classics. Leone refused a multitude of projects, including the opportunity to direct The Godfather (1972), in a bid to realize his dream project. Sergio Leone’s dedication to unleash the free spirit of art and his commitment to manifest a kind of cinema that is both entertaining as well as thought-provoking was both inexorable as well as exemplary. This immortal spirit that reverberated through his sui generis works in form of some divine force has continued to inspire the filmmakers and masses alike for decades, instilling in them the self-belief and the vision to fulfill their greatest desires.  
Best Movies by Sergio Leone (as per IMDb user ratings)

4). For a Few Dollars More (1965)
5). A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
7). Il colosso di Rodi (1961)

Top 5 Movies by Sergio Leone (Author’s Pick)

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