Italian film director who almost single-handedly launched the mid-sixties/early-seventies cycle of Spaghetti Westerns
His major films:
- A Fistful Of Dollars — An inspired rip-off of Yojimbo, which effectively transplanted Kurosawa's Jidai Geki to The Wild West (and made Clint Eastwood a star)—which itself was actually an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest. Together with the next two, it makes up the "Dollars" Trilogy.
- For A Few Dollars More — The sequel. It has Eastwood's "man with no name" and Lee Van Cleef's "man in black" as rival Bounty Hunters going after a Frank Booth-esque bad guy. For one of them, It's Personal.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — The Prequel, and one of the greatest film of the Western genre ever. Gold Fever, The American Civil War, and an Ennio Morricone theme that has since become a Standard Snippet. Lee Van Cleef plays a completely different character.
- Once Upon a Time in the West — Leone's deconstruction of the entire Western genre, including his own previous films. Best known among film buffs for its stroke-of-genius casting: Charles Bronson as another "man with no name," smoky Claudia Cardinale as the Determined Widow whose fortunes drive the plot, and Henry Fonda as the villain. Best known to the rest of the world as the title that launched a thousand snowclones, including Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China, and Robert Rodriguez's Once upon a Time in Mexico.
- A Fistful of Dynamite — Takes place during the Mexican Revolution in 1913, undoubtedly his most overlooked film. Suffered badly from Leone's conviction that Americans have ever used the phrase "Duck, you sucker!" (its original title).
- Once Upon a Time in America — Epic gangster movie set in New York during The Roaring Twenties. Follows the rise of four boys in the criminal underworld.
- My Name Is Nobody — Leone's farewell to the genre he helped to create.