ONCE UPON A TIME: SIX FILMS BY SERGIO LEONE Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
In a season when Clint Eastwood begins another march up the Oscar aisle, it's a useful thrill to go back to when he was just an actor in a poncho and a week's beard. The 60s westerns he made in Italy for Sergio Leone catapulted him from TV journeyman to iconic star. It was the remorseless violence of his Man With No Name character that fed his Dirty Harry persona of the 70s, which led to the moral reckoning of films like Million Dollar Baby. For Eastwood, violence now has consequences; in Fistful Of Dollars (January 14), it was just grim ecstasy.
The Cinematheque's series features immaculate 'Scope prints of Fistful, For A Few Dollars More (January 14) and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (January 18), plus Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West (January 15). All the films feature his shocking compositions and bizarre humour, as well as Ennio Morricone's eerie, ear-grabbing music. Between them they found the concrete poetry in the whistle of a gunshot or the gleam of a leather holster. U of T prof Bart Testa lectures on Leone at the Once Upon A Time In The West screening. (Cinematheque Ontario, January 14-27)