Leone. There are no easy choices on this list/project. By and large, I think much more of all 3 Leone/Eastwood collaborations than the TSPDT critical consensus. Also, I view Leone’s style as a huge plus (i.e. I think he, as a stylist, is even stronger than his filmography which as I’ve said on this project isn’t always the case). Like many on this list (and coming after) I wish Leone had made more films but damn his top 5 is really strong and they compare favorably with nearly any director’s top 5 (especially when you get away from the top 10 directors on this list). His films are also really long and saturated with style. His 6 archiveable films are 934 minutes which is about 155 a piece. Every director has their own style but 934 minutes is about 10-11 Woody Allen movies– I’m just saying—it’s not always just about the number of films.
Best film: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I don’t think this is open and shut. The consensus is Once Upon a Time in the West and you won’t get a strong argument from me. I think the showdown at the end of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the greatest showcase of film editing (ahead of JFK and right there with Eistenstein’s Odessa Steps showcase in Battleship Potemkin) in film history so maybe this pushes it over the top for me when comparing Leone’s best two films.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 2 (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West)
top 500 films: 5 (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More)
top 100 films of the decade: 5 (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More)
most overrated: Once Upon a Time in America . TPSDT has it at #101 and I’m at#150. Once Upon a Time in America is the only thing close and even that is a fairly accurate ranking. That’s a wonderful film.
most underrated : A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More are nowhere to be found in the top 1000 on TSPDT and I think that’s a travesty. They are fantastic films. I guess you could argue that A Fistful of Dollars is one-part Kurosawa (it is a remake of Yojimbo), one-part Morricone, and one-part burgeoning star Eastwood and use this to detract from Leone’s accomplishment – but someone deserves credit for putting all of that together and revamping an entire genre.
gem I want to spotlight: For a Few Dollars More. It’s the least known of the man with no name trilogy but the middle entry, For a Few Dollars More, is not far off Leone’s masterpieces in terms of stylish direction. When the TSPDT readers voted this one of the most overlooked films for not being on the top 1000 I think they were in error and meant the first film but after another visit I have to tip my cap to them- this is sensational.
Leone was the complete package. He moves the camera like Murnau, he’s as strong an editor (the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West) as any in film history. There is gorgeous use of freeze frames in the opening of The Good the Bad and the Ugly quickly borrowing from the French new wave—and his films’ music are clearly iconic. To finish things off from a mise-en-scene standpoint there were no shortage of tableaus to draw from here for the images on the page- stunning.
- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Once Upon a Time in the West
- Once Upton a Time in America
- A Fistful of Dollars
- For a Few Dollars More
- Duck, You Sucker
By year and grades
|1964- A Fistful of Dollars||MS|
|1965- For a Few Dollars More||MS|
|1966- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly||MP|
|1968- Once Upon a Time in the West||MP|
|1971- Duck, You Sucker||R|
|1984- Once Upon a Time In America||MP|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives