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Sergio Leone

Biography

Legendary Italian film director most widely known for directing the traditional spaghetti Traditional western films A Fistful of Dollars, For some Dollars Even more, and THE NICE, The Bad, as well as the Ugly, which starred the fantastic Clint Eastwood. He worked well as an film associate to movie director Vittorio De Sica around the 1948 neorealism film Bike Thieves. He rejected an opportunity to immediate The Godfather to be able to film the final feature of his profession, the 1984 criminal offense epic A long time ago in the us starring Robert De Niro. It had been the 3rd film in his A long time ago trilogy. He previously three children called Francesca, Raffaella and Andrea along with his wife Carla Leone. After producing three Westerns with Eastwood, he continued to immediate another traditional Traditional western, the 1968 feature A long time ago in the Western, starring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda and Claudia Cardinale.

Quick Facts


Full Name Sergio Leone
Date Of Birth January 3, 1929
Died April 30, 1989, Rome, Italy
Place Of Birth Rome, Italy
Height 1.73 m
Profession Director
Nationality Italian
Spouse Carla Leone
Children Francesca Leone, Raffaella Leone, Andrea Leone
Parents Bice Waleran, Roberto Roberti
Awards David di Donatello for Best Director, David di Donatello René Clair Award
Nominations Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture, BAFTA Award for Best Direction, David di Donatello for Best Foreign Director
Movies The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, Once Upon a Time in America, Duck, You Sucker!, My Name Is Nobody, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Last Days of Pompeii, A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe, Bianco, rosso e Verdone, Troppo forte, Fun Is Beautiful, Sign of Rome, Duel of the Titans, The Cat, A Dangerous Toy, The Seven Revenges, Slave Girls of Sheba, They Stole a Tram, Slave Women of Corinth
Star Sign Capricorn

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 He developed a passion for Havana cigars after being introduced to them by writer/collaborator Luciano Vincenzoni.
2 Leone devised a western called A Place Only Mary Knows that he cowrote with Luca Morsella, and Fabio Toncelli. It is speculated to have been Leone's last western and was to have starred Mickey Rourke and Richard Gere as the two main leads. Set during the height of the American Civil War, the story focused on a Union drafter, Mike Kutcher from Georgia, whose job is to enroll men into the Union army. The other is Richard Burns, a Southern shady businessman transplanted to the North after a successful heist with his ex-lover and partner, Mary. Searching for the buried treasure left behind in an unmarked grave outside Atlanta in "A Place Only Mary Knows". Joined by a freed slave and an Italian immigrant, Francesco, who arrives via the port of Boston, they try desperately to avoid the battles of the ongoing war between the states. The film was to have been a homage to classic writers from literature such as - Edgar Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology), Ambrose Bierce (An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge), Mark Twain (A Military Campaign that Failed), Stephen Crane (The Red Badge of Courage), and Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind), of whose novel he had wanted to film a remake. Although the written treatment never got turned into a full screenplay, Leone's son Andrea had it published in a June 2004 issue of the Italian cinema magazine Ciak. It is unsure if the treatment's publication will ever lead to a full production in America or Italy.
3 President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 45th Venice International Film Festival in 1988.
4 In his later years, Leone had a falling out of sorts with Clint Eastwood. When Leone directed Once Upon a Time in America (1984), he commented that Robert De Niro was a real actor, unlike Eastwood. This may have been in response to Eastwood declining to play the Irish police detective in the aforementioned film, according to one biography. However, the two made amends and reconciled before Leone's death. When Eastwood when an Oscar for Unforgiven (1992), Leone was one of the two directors whom Eastwood dedicated his award to (the other was Don Siegel) and the film contains the dedication "To Sergio & Don" before the end credits roll.
5 Leone was an early choice to direct Flash Gordon (1980). Leone was a fan of the original Alex Raymond comic strip, but turned down the film because the script did not resemble Raymond's work.
6 While finishing work on Once Upon a Time in America (1984) in 1982, Leone was impressed with Harrison Salisbury's non-fiction book The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, and he planned on adapting the book as a war epic. Although no formal script had been completed or leaked, Leone came up with the opening scene and basic plot. According to the documentary Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone (2001), the film opened in medias res as the camera goes from focusing on a Russian hiding from the Nazis' artillery fire to panning hundreds of feet away to show the German Panzer divisions approaching the walls of the city. The plot was to focus on an American photographer on assignment (whom Leone wanted to be played by Robert De Niro) becoming trapped in Russia as the German Luftwaffe begin to bombard the city. Throughout the course of the film, he becomes romantically involved with a Russian woman, whom he later impregnates, as they attempt to survive the prolonged siege and the secret police, because relationships with foreigners are forbidden. According to Leone, "In the end, the cameraman dies on the day of the liberation of the city, when he is currently filming the surrender of the Germans. And the girl is aware of his death by chance seeing a movie news: the camera sees it explode under a shell .... " By 1989, Leone had been able to acquire $100 million in financing from independent backers, and the film was to be a joint production with a Soviet film company. He had convinced Ennio Morricone to compose the film score, and Tonino Delli Colli was tapped to be the cinematographer. Shooting was scheduled to begin sometime in 1990. The project was cancelled when Leone died two days before he was to officially sign on for the film.
7 Leone also started writing a screenplay based on Lee Falk's The Phantom, and scouted locations for the project. Despite this, he never got to make a movie based on the comic book hero. He declared he would have liked to follow his Phantom project with a movie based on another Falk-created character, Mandrake the Magician.
8 Leone was a fan of Louis-Ferdinand Céline's novel Journey to the End of the Night and was considering a film adaptation in the late 1960s; he incorporated elements of the story into The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Duck, You Sucker (1971) but his idea of adapting the novel itself never got past the planning stages.
9 In 1987, Leone contacted his old collaborators Sergio Donati and Fulvio Morsella, pitching an idea for a TV miniseries about a Colt revolver that passed from owner to owner throughout the Old West, similar to Winchester '73 (1950). Donati indicated that Leone was interested in a more revisionist take on the genre than his earlier works, wanting to show the Old West "like it really was." Leone abandoned this project in favor of A Place Only Mary Knows, though Donati wrote a treatment and the project remained in gestation for years after Leone's death.
10 He started his own production company which he named Rafran, after his two daughters Raffaella and Francesca.
11 He was asked to direct The Godfather (1972), but he turned it down in order to make Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
12 Leone was an avid fan of Margaret Mitchell's novel and the film Gone with the Wind (1939). His relatives and close friends stated that he talked about filming a remake that was closer to the original novel, but it never advanced beyond discussions to any serious form of production.
13 According to Frayling's biography of Leone, Something to Do with Death, he envisioned a contemporary adaptation of Cervantes' 17th century novel Don Quixote with Clint Eastwood in the title role and Eli Wallach as Sancho Panza. He had discussed doing the project throughout the 1960s-1970s, and he started seriously considering it towards the end of his life.
14 He was asked to direct Hang 'Em High (1968), but he turned it down in favour of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
15 He didn't learn to speak English fluently until he was preparing Once Upon a Time in America (1984), having made 5 previously films with American actors by broken attempts at English (by Leone), Italian (by the actors) or French.
16 His callous behavior towards his collaborators reached a high-water mark during the shooting of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) ("Once Upon a Time in the West"), when bit-part actor Al Mulock committed suicide on the set of the movie. Murlock, who also had appeared as the one-armed bounty hunter in Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), jumped from a hotel on location in Guadix, Spain. Production manager Claudio Mancini was sitting in a room in the hotel with Mickey Knox, an expatriate American who had been hired by Leone as a screenwriter; they both saw Mulock's body pass by their window. Knox recalled in an interview that while Mancini put Mulock in his car to drive him to the hospital, Leone said to Mancini, "Get the costume! We need the costume!" Mulock was wearing the costume he wore in the movie when he made his fatal leap.
17 Was sued by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa for remaking his Yojimbo (1961) as "A Fistful of Dollars" (A Fistful of Dollars (1964)) shot-for-shot without crediting him, and copyright infringement. The production of A Fistful of Dollars (1964) apologized, compensated Kurosawa with $100,000, and 15% of box office revenues.
18 Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 28th Berlin International Film Festival in 1978.
19 Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 24th Cannes International Film Festival in 1971.
20 Aside from saying 'Goodbye', Sergio Leone never spoke a word of English and always relied on a translator when talking to American actors. According to an interview with Eli Wallach, he spoke to Sergio in broken up French and discovered he is fluent in the language. This is how he communicated to Sergio Leone when shooting The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly").
21 His favorite movies were reportedly (in no particular order) Yojimbo (1961), Warlock (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), and Vera Cruz (1954).
22 His favorite actor from childhood was Henry Fonda, who was offered a role in every one of Leone's early Westerns. After Fonda finally worked with him on Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), he returned the compliment, later citing that film as his favorite role.
23 Famously feuded with director Peter Bogdanovich over the directing reigns of Duck, You Sucker (1971) - Leone claimed that Bogdanovich was fearful of such a large production and backed out at the last minute. Bogdonavich stands by the story that Leone hired him as a patsy, as he wanted to direct the film all along.
24 Son of Bice Valerian, father of Francesca Leone, Andrea Leone and Raffaella Leone.
25 Son of director Roberto Roberti.
26 Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 577-581. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
27 He died at the age of 60 from a heart attack, which was most likely resulted from his eating habits. He had an infamous love for food and gained weight throughout his life until he was borderline obese in the 1980s.
28 When he made Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), his stylistic influence switched from the more frenetic pace of Hollywood westerns (which he put on hyper-drive for the "Dollars" trilogy with Clint Eastwood) to the slower, tenser style of Japanese samurai films, mainly those of Akira Kurosawa.
29 Was voted the 41st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, having directed only 11 films.
30 Clint Eastwood was amused by Leone's on-set behavior during their collaborations, having called the short, heavy Leone "Yosemite Sam" for his over-the-top temper and attempts to act like a cowboy through his thick Italian accent.
31 He had two daughters, Francesca Leone and Raffaella Leone, and a son, Andrea Leone. Francesca appeared in her father's For a Few Dollars More (1965) as a baby. Both girls were reportedly among the extras in Flagstone in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). For Leone's final film, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Francesca was given a bit part and Raffaella was credited as Assistant Costume Designer.
32 Although they did not work together until 1964, as children Leone and composer Ennio Morricone were classmates.
33 Was often noted to embellish events that occurred on the sets of his films, as noted by many of his collaborators.
34 Started many feuds with his collaborators - Sergio Donati, for not being credited for co-writing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966); Luciano Vincenzoni; and Tonino Valerii, whom he usurped on the set of My Name Is Nobody (1973) by directing many scenes of that film.
35 Was very insecure about the films he made and every film he made was almost his last. Between Duck, You Sucker (1971) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984) he produced several films and directed several commercials. He also did some uncredited directing work on some of the films he produced. Before his death he planned on making a film called The 900 Days about the siege on Leningrad. He was able to get $100 million in financing without even having written a script and he planned to cast Robert De Niro.
36 Composer Ennio Morricone has said that Leone asked him to compose a film's music before the start of principal photography - contrary to normal practice. He would then play the music to the actors during takes to enhance their performance.


Assistant Director

Assistant Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
My Name Is Nobody 1973 second unit director - uncredited
Cemetery Without Crosses 1969 director: dining scene - uncredited
The Changing of the Guard 1962 second unit director - uncredited
Sodom and Gomorrah 1962 second unit director - uncredited
Ben-Hur 1959 second unit director - uncredited
The Last Days of Pompeii 1959 assistant director: second unit
Son of the Red Corsair 1959 assistant director
The Nun's Story 1959 assistant director - uncredited
Sheba and the Gladiator 1959 assistant director - uncredited
Quai des illusions 1959 assistant director
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love 1958 assistant director
The Teacher and the Miracle 1957 assistant director
Mi permette babbo! 1956 assistant director
We Stole a Tram 1956 assistant director
Helen of Troy 1956 second unit director - uncredited
La ladra 1955 assistant director
Concert of Intrigue 1954 assistant director
Of Life and Love 1954 assistant director
Frine, cortigiana d'Oriente 1953 assistant director
Jolanda la figlia del corsaro nero 1953 assistant director
L'uomo, la bestia e la virtù 1953 assistant director
I tre corsari 1952 assistant director
La tratta delle bianche 1952 assistant director
Quo Vadis 1951 second unit director - uncredited
Il voto 1950 assistant director - uncredited
Outlaw Girl 1950 assistant director - uncredited
Taxi di notte 1950 assistant director - uncredited
Faust and the Devil 1950 assistant director - uncredited
La forza del destino 1950 assistant director - uncredited
Il folle di Marechiaro 1950 assistant director - uncredited
Il trovatore 1949 assistant director - uncredited
Fabiola 1949 assistant director - uncredited
Bicycle Thieves 1948 assistant director - uncredited
Rigoletto 1946 assistant director - uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Colt TV Mini-Series original screenplay pre-production
Troppo forte 1986
Once Upon a Time in America 1984 screenplay
My Name Is Nobody 1973 idea
Duck, You Sucker 1971 screenplay / story
Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 from a story by / screenplay by
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966 screenplay / story
For a Few Dollars More 1965 scenario / screenplay
A Fistful of Dollars 1964 screenplay / story
Le verdi bandiere di Allah 1963 writer
Duel of the Titans 1961 dialogue - story / screenplay
The Colossus of Rhodes 1961 screenplay / story
The Seven Revenges 1961
The Last Days of Pompeii 1959 screenplay
Sheba and the Gladiator 1959 writer
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love 1958 screenplay

Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The King of Ads 1991 Documentary segments "Renault 18, " "Renault 19, ", "Glaces Gervais"
Once Upon a Time in America 1984
A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot 1975 uncredited
Duck, You Sucker 1971
Once Upon a Time in the West 1968
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966
For a Few Dollars More 1965
A Fistful of Dollars 1964
The Colossus of Rhodes 1961

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Troppo forte 1986 executive producer - uncredited
Bianco, rosso e Verdone 1981 executive producer - uncredited
Un sacco bello 1980 producer
Il giocattolo 1979 executive producer - uncredited
Il gatto 1977 producer
A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot 1975 executive producer - uncredited
My Name Is Nobody 1973 executive producer - uncredited

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Sai cosa faceva Stalin alle donne? 1969
For a Few Dollars More 1965 Whistling Bounty Hunter (voice, uncredited)
Milano miliardaria 1951 Extra (uncredited)
Il folle di Marechiaro 1950 American Soldier
Bicycle Thieves 1948 A Seminary Student (uncredited)
La bocca sulla strada 1941 Un bambino

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Documenti su Giuseppe Pinelli 1970 Documentary short support
For a Few Dollars More 1965 copyright holder
I tre corsari 1952 script supervisor

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
No More Heroes 2013 Short dedicatee
Django Unchained 2012 dedicatee
Tráiganme la Cabeza de la Mujer Metralleta 2012 acknowledgment
The Devil's Dosh 2011 Short very special thanks
Anthony-Cédric Vuagniaux: '69 (La bobine magique) 2011 Short dedicated to
The Waiting Room 2011/IV Short special thanks
El defensor 2011 Short the director wishes to thank
Vixen Highway 2006: It Came from Uranus! 2010 special thanks
Little Red Riding Hood 2009/I Video short special thanks
Blood Moon Rising 2009 special thanks
Duel 2008/II Short dedicatee
Dusty 2008 Short special thanks
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 2004 dedicatee
Dealer 2004/I special thanks
Unforgiven 1992 dedicated to - as Sergio
My Birthday Cake 1991 Short dedicatee
Cemetery Without Crosses 1969 dedicatee
Seth's Gold 2015 Short thanks
6 Bullets to Hell 2014 grateful acknowledgment
Nosferatu vs. Father Pipecock & Sister Funk 2014 special thanks
Edición Especial Coleccionista 2013 TV Series in memory of - 1 episode

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Ennio Morricone 1995 TV Movie documentary Himself
Bellissimo: Immagini del cinema italiano 1985 Documentary Himself
La nuit des Césars 1984 TV Series documentary Himself
An Almost Perfect Affair 1979 Himself (uncredited)
Les rendez-vous du dimanche 1978 TV Series Himself
Cineastas en México: Entrevista con Sergio Leone 1976 Documentary short Himself
Gala de l'union 1972-1973 TV Series Himself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Poltrone Rosse - Parma e il Cinema 2014 Documentary Himself
The Story of Film: An Odyssey 2011 TV Mini-Series documentary Himself
Il falso bugiardo 2008 Himself
Quelli che... il calcio 2007 TV Series Himself
Hoge bomen: Pioniers 2007 TV Series documentary Himself (segment "Giu La Testa")
Denn sie kennen kein Erbarmen - Der Italowestern 2006 TV Movie documentary Himself
The Spaghetti West 2005 Video documentary Himself
Épreuves d'artistes 2004 TV Movie documentary Himself
An Opera of Violence 2003 Video documentary short Himself
I sogni nel mirino 2002 Documentary Himself
Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone 2001 Video documentary Himself
Kino kolossal - Herkules, Maciste & Co 2000 TV Movie documentary Himself
American Masters 2000 TV Series documentary Himself - Director

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Cinemanila International Film Festival Posthumously.
2008 OFTA Film Hall of Fame Online Film & Television Association Creative
1987 Nocciola d'Oro Giffoni Film Festival
1985 Silver Ribbon Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Best Director (Regista del Miglior Film) Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
1985 Kinema Junpo Award Kinema Junpo Awards Best Foreign Language Film Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
1984 René Clair Award David di Donatello Awards
1972 David David di Donatello Awards Best Director (Migliore Regia) Giù la testa (1971)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1985 Golden Globe Golden Globes, USA Best Director - Motion Picture Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
1985 BAFTA Film Award BAFTA Awards Best Direction Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
1985 David David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Director (Migliore Regista Straniero) Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

2nd place awards

2nd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1984 LAFCA Award Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

TitleSalary
Per qualche dollaro in più (1965) $350,000 + 60% of profits

#Quote
1 When I was young, I believed in three things: Marxism, the redemptive power of cinema, and dynamite. Now I just believe in dynamite.
2 [on Orson Welles] He was a hard man. He'd lose his temper. He broke telephones. He also drank. But he could also be sensitive. [...] At any rate, I found him fascinating. I had infinite admiration for his directing.
3 [on Clint Eastwood] As an actor, he has two expressions: with and without the hat.
4 In my childhood, America was like a religion. Then, real-life Americans abruptly entered my life - in jeeps - and upset all my dreams. I found them very energetic, but also very deceptive. They were no longer the Americans of the West. They were soldiers like any others...materialists, possessive, keen on pleasures and earthly goods.
5 [on Lee Van Cleef] His glance makes holes in the screen.
6 [on Henry Fonda] I have never known an actor with such craft, with such professional seriousness; such a pleasant man, full of humor, so reserved and so keenly quick-witted.

#Trademark
1 Extensive use of wide-angle lens
2 Frequently used the "Mexican standoff," whereby three men each point a gun at each other at the same time (adopted later by John Woo and Quentin Tarantino).
3 Characters in his films frequently play a musical device, with the music appearing also in the composer's score (Indio's watch chimes in For a Few Dollars More (1965), Harmonica's harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)).
4 Long periods of silence followed by quick bursts of action
5 Showing ugly and violent acts with unglamorous simplicity
6 Invented the extreme close-up in western-style films. [close-up]
7 Major characters' entrances are accompanied by variations of the theme music. [theme]
8 Frequently worked with Tonino Delli Colli and Ennio Morricone

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