Once Upon A Time: A Sergio Leone Retrospective at the Egyptian

In 1964, “A Fistful of Dollars” became a mega-hit, leading to a sequel, “For a Few Dollars More,” and the conclusion to the trilogy, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” These masterpieces and a few more are included in The American Cinematheque’s Sergio Leone retrospective at the Egyptian Theatre starting Thursday, January 28th. Each screening begins at 7:30PM.

Beginning this Thursday, the Leone retrospective kicks off with the double feature lineup of “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”. When Leone remade Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” with Eastwood as a poncho-wearing, cheroot-chewing gunman, he wound up creating the most revolutionary Western of the 1960s and solidified the legendary status of one of Hollywood’s greatest idols. The sequel continued to follow the adventures of the Man-With-No-Name as Eastwood and super bad guy Lee Van Cleef play rival bounty hunters who end up tracking the same man.

Friday, January 29th features a digitally restored presentation of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. This Leone masterpiece follows a trio of equally violent and unrepentant gunslingers. Eli Wallach joins Eastwood and Van Cleef as they engage in a series of jaw-dropping, double and triple crosses to get their hands on a hidden fortune. This is my personal favorite of the three, and part of my all time greatest list. If you can’t make the first two films, you can be forgiven, but there’s no excuse for missing one of the most ingenious Westerns ever made.

Next up are what many believe to be Leone’s operatic masterworks. First, on Saturday, January 30th is “Once Upon a Time in the West”. This amazingly eerie depiction of the brutality of the Wild West stars Charles Bronson as a soft-spoken, harmonica-playing gunslinger bent on revenge against brutal assassin Henry Fonda (yup, nice guy Fonda playing against type). The early scene at the train station is, to me, the most memorable showdown in cinematic history.

The final night of the retrospective, Sunday, January 31st, is reserved for Leone’s swan song film, “Once Upon a Time in America”. Released in 1984, Leone’s magnum opus is about Prohibition-era Jewish gangsters in New York. Childhood friends Robert De Niro and James Woods rise to power as New York gangsters during the glory years of the Prohibition, only to lose their souls in the process. This, the last of Leone’s masterpieces, features Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Danny Aiello, William Forsythe, and in her film debut, Jennifer Connelly.
If you have yet to see any one of these pictures, there’s no better way to catch up on a classic than by seeing it on the big screen, complete with the magnificent sound of composer Ennio Morricone’s iconic theme music washing over you via a modern theater’s sound system. The Egyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028.

For more information, go to www.americancinematheque.com or call (323) 466-FILM.

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