cover image Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone

Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone

Christopher Frayling, . . Abrams, $40 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5884-5

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)