A new book exploring the making of Sergio Leone’s ultimate Western, Once Upon a Time in the West, is being published in April by Reel Art Press.
Written by renowned Leone expert Sir Christopher Frayling and released to mark the 50th anniversary of one of cinema’s true classics, the hardcover Once Upon a Time in The West Shooting a Masterpiece boasts an “in-depth” foreword by Quentin Tarantino.
Frayling has interviewed the key players on both sides of the camera, including Bernardo Bertolucci, who wrote the story outline for the film. The book also includes a wealth of never-before-published documents, designs and photographs, and the latest research into the making of a masterpiece, shot by shot.
Once Upon a Time has been hailed as a celebration of the power of classic Hollywood cinema, a meditation on the making of America, and a lament for the decline of one of the most cherished film genres in the form of a “dance of death”.
With this film, Leone said a fond farewell to the noisy and flamboyant world of the Italian Western, which he had created with A Fistful of Dollars and its sequels, and aimed for something much more ambitious – an exploration of the relationship between myth (“Once Upon a Time…”), history (“…in the West”) and his own autobiography as an avid film-goer.
He also fulfilled several dreams: to work with Henry Fonda – a hero of his youth in suburban Rome – to make a star of Charles Bronson as he had of Clint Eastwood, to integrate musical score and visual image by recording the music in advance of filming, to re-boot some of the most hallowed moments of Hollywood Westerns, and to shoot among the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, John Ford territory.