The Sergio Leone Anthology Sergio Leone

The Sergio Leone Anthology Sergio Leone
Western aficionados, Clint Eastwood devotees (remember, it was his work with Leone that first made him a star), cinephiles and anyone else waiting for the eventual reissuing of the first two parts of renowned director Sergio Leone’s Dollars series after the lavish 2004 edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly can finally exhale, as The Sergio Leone Anthology collects "the man with no name” triolgy, along with Leone’s Duck, You Sucker aka A Fistful of Dynamite, available for the first time on DVD. However, it’s clear that one of these things is not like the others (ahem, Duck), as missing is the film that belongs and complements Leone’s Dollars set, Once Upon A Time In The West. Obviously, rights issues are to blame for this omission (MGM/Fox owns these four, Paramount Once). However, there’s no questioning the legendary status of the Dollars films. All three are classics, and while they weren’t the first "spaghetti westerns,” they were the most successful, popularising and legitimising the genre while reinventing the western, as well as establishing themselves as great films and filmmaking. Leone’s first in the series, A Fistful of Dollars, takes its heavy Yojimbo influence (Leone would be sued and forced to compensate Kurosawa for the "remake”) and "trades swords for guns and Japan for Mexico,” where Eastwood’s "man with no name” (a purely American marketing convention, as he has a different name in each) plays both sides of a town’s two feuding families against each other. For A Few Dollars More finds Eastwood as a bounty killer (he also, despite his identical look, played "different” characters in each), teaming up with Lee Van Cleef’s Col. Mortimer to hunt down an insane outlaw. Unquestionably Leone’s masterpiece, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly reunites Eastwood ("the good”) with Van Cleef ("the bad”), teaming them with Eli Wallach’s frenetic Tuco ("the ugly”) in search of a hidden fortune. It’s fascinating to watch the three films and witness the emergence and progression of Leone’s style and signifiers as the director gains confidence and expands his vision, filmmaking and storytelling. Duck, You Sucker aka A Fistful of Dynamite is also fascinating (as is its trials and tribulations) but in a different way, as the tale of two disparate characters (James Coburn’s explosives expert and Rod Steiger’s Tuco channelling Juan) set against the Mexican revolution sees Leone pushing his stylistic trademarks almost to absurd degrees (i.e., the extreme close-ups on the mouths of people eating). Still, it’s Leone and stunning, at times. The set also features generally excellent featurettes and ridiculously informative and interesting commentaries from the likes of film historians Richard Schickel and Sir Christopher Frayling. And, of course, who could ever forget the incredible scores by the equally legendary Ennio Morricone? Despite his relatively limited output, Leone was an incredible, visionary director whose influence is felt to this day. This set reaffirms that assessment and his greatness. (MGM / Fox)