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||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht


Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

By CarrieSpecht

October 14th, 2009

Turner Classic Movies has launched a new series of one-hour specials focusing on film genres starting off with The Suspenseful World of Thrillers - Just in time for Halloween!

Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

The new series from Dream Works Television kicked off early this month with the original documentary, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful world of Thrillers”. Following that premier there has been a festival featuring classic thrillers that continues until the last Friday in October. Fortunately, there are still three more Fridays left in the month, including the one coming up that rebroadcast of the documentary which features interviews with screenwriter Diablo Cody, actor Kenneth Branagh, director Mel Brooks, screen favorite Martin Landau, and many more.

This new series is an example of TCM’s commitment to offering great insights into the world of classic films. The first installment, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”, examines the genre from all sides, including the different types of thrillers and the tools filmmakers use to give their audiences a shot of adrenaline. Topics explored include the origin of thrillers and the development of stylistic conventions, such as the use of a wrongly accused everyman as a protagonist, damsels in distress, femme fatales, and villains. The documentary goes on to assess the impact of the changing times on the genre, such as the push for intrigue during WWII, the increase of violence in the ‘60s, the emergence of the paranoid thriller in the ‘70s, and how the genre maintains popularity by latching onto the defining mood of each passing era.

The special plays out as a basic yet informative tutorial on what is the definition of a thriller, spanning the subtypes as well as the distinctions that separate it from action films. A Night at the Movies is extremely well crafted, with many of the genre’s definitive voices (past and present) speaking about the qualities necessary to any thriller, while clips are utilized to exemplify these points. Overall, this is a fun and entertaining way to finally make clear one of the most misunderstood genres of the film medium.

With the variety to be had within the , TCM has set aside each Friday in October’s primetime for a different style of thriller. This Friday the 16th the focus is on Crime Thrillers, with the underexposed, but exceptional noir The Narrow Margin starting the night off at 8pm EST (5pm PST). Immediately following this first film is a rebroadcast of “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”. Then two more thrillers, “Lured” featuring Lucille Ball and George Sanders and “The Lodger” with Merle Oberon, will round out the night’s presentation.