You talk about striving for excellence – to a guy like me, Sergio Leone is just about the highest level of excellence any director could aspire to. He took the western genre, which had grown stale and conservative, and injected it full of his Leone brand cinematic steroid and turned it into an unstoppable super soldier version of the old beast, one so powerful it became its own genre that is still worshipped and studied by cult movie watchers to this day. All he did was five westerns bookended by a gladiator picture and a gangster epic. But those westerns contributed so much to the Badass Cinema I worship to this day that they might as well be considered its legal guardians.
Think about it: the stoic Clint Eastwood persona of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, which he parlayed into an entire brilliant career and which spun off into a hundred bastard sons in the action genre, from Steven Seagal to Daniel Craig. The epic cinemascope wide shots showing the vastness of the desert, cutting to the extreme closeups on some ugly bastard’s squinty eyes, surrounded by wrinkles and lines of sweat. The ingenious use of sound – buzzing flies, some piece of metal somewhere clanging in the wind, the clicking of guns, and of course the legendary Ennio Morricone scores that are forever glued to any memory anybody ever had of these movies. Leone’s style is like a drug, it heightens all your senses. You feel like a blind man whose hearing becomes more powerful to balance out the loss of the eye sight, but then you get the eye sight back for some reason and the super-hearing stays so you go watch some westerns. (read the rest of this shit…)
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.