SERGIO LEONE BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Sergio Leone was born in Rome, Italy on January 3, 1929 to silent film director Vincenzo Leone (a.k.a Roberto Roberti) and actress Bice Valerian. Growing up around motion pictures, naturally Leone became enthralled with them. However, his father insisted that he go into a law career instead. At age eighteen, while attending school, Leone began getting an education in filmmaking from family members. Eventually, he decided to drop law school and focus solely on creating pictures.
He first served as assistant director for Vittorio de Seca’s “Bicycle Thieves” (1948). Leone continued to work under other directors throughout the 1950's, with such pictures as “Rigoletto” (1949), “Mi permette, babbo!” (1956), and “Aphrodite, Goddess of Love” (1958). With the latter, he also launched his screenwriting career. He wrote a few more times, as well as helped direct, before he finally got the chance to solo direct his first movie.
“Colossus of Rhodes” (1961), which he also wrote, became Leone’s directorial debut. Although he continued to write for films like “Duel of the Titans” (1961) and “Le verdi bandiere di Allah” (1963), he did not direct another feature until 1964, for fear of failure. Fortunately, his “A Fistfull of Dollars” (1964), a European western flick (Spaghetti Western) starring Clint Eastwood, turned out to be wildly popular. His subsequent films, both of which featured Eastwood, “For a Few Dollars More” (1965) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966), completed what came to be known as the famous “Dollars Trilogy”.
In 1967, due to his major success, Leone was invited to America to write and direct what he hoped would be his greatest masterpiece. Paramount Pictures’ Henry Fonda western “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) flopped at U.S. box offices as a result of Paramount’s brutal editing, but massively took off in Europe. After, he reluctantly directed the war centered westerner “Duck, You Sucker” (1971). Unfortunately, it failed miserably.
Leone then decided to take a break from the director’s chair to get himself together and ready to put out another hit. In the meantime, he began producing pictures, including the comedies “Il gatto” (1977), “Fun is Beautiful” (1980), and “Bianco, rosso e Verdone” (1981). He did, however, have a few more uncredited producing and directing positions, as well as guest acting appearances. During this time, he was also asked to direct the gangster epic “The Godfather” (1972), but he turned the offer down.
In 1984, Leone returned to directing with his own gangster flick, “Once Upon a Time in America”. The four hour long Robert De Niro and James Wood picture, set in America’s prohibition age, presented the friendships of a group of New York City gangsters. Warner Brothers cut the film’s running time in America, and it received copious amounts of criticism. However, when the full length DVD version of the picture was released, critics rejoiced and Americans hailed it as a masterpiece.
He appeared as a guest in a movie and a television show, as well as helped write and produce “Troppo forte” (1986) following the release of his final film. Although his previous effort flopped, Leone was determined to make a comeback and had a World War II picture in the works. Sadly, he never lived to see this ambition become reality, as he suffered from a fatal heart attack on April 30, 1989 in his birthplace, Rome, Italy. Although, he only directed eleven movies, Entertainment Weekly named him the 41st Greatest Director of all time, an honor he would have been happy to have.
1986 Troppo forte
1984 Once Upon a Time in America
1981 Bianco, rosso e Verdone
1980 Fun Is Beautiful
1979 Il giocattolo
1977 Il gatto
1975 A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot
1973 My Name is Nobody
1971 Duck, You Sucker
1968 Once Upon a Time in the West
1966 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
1965 For a Few Dollars More
1964 A Fistful of Dollars
1963 Le verdi bandiere di Allah
1962 The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah
1962 Il cambio della guardia
1961 Duel of the Titans
1961 The Colossus of Rhodes
1961 The Seven Revenges
1959 The Last Days of Pompeii
1959 Son of the Red Corsair
1959 The Nun's Story
1959 Sheba and the Gladiator
1959 Quai des illusions
1958 Aphrodite, Goddess of Love
1957 The Teacher and the Miracle
1956 Mi permette, babbo!
1956 Questa è la vita
1956 Helen of Troy
1955 La ladra
1954 Concert of Intrigue
1954 Jolanda, the Daughter of the Black Corsair
1954 Hanno rubato un tram
1953 Frine, cortigiana d'Oriente
1953 L'uomo, la bestia e la virtù
1952 I tre corsari
1952 La forza del destino
1952 La tratta delle bianche
1952 Il folle di Marechiaro
1951 Quo Vadis
1951 Milano miliardaria
1950 Outlaw Girl
1950 Taxi di notte
1950 Faust and the Devil
1950 Il voto
1949 Il trovatore
1948 Bicycle Thieves
1941 La bocca sulla strada