I always feel sheepish in situations like this. I’ve discovered something cool and new, something I’m excited about—which would be great except that my “discovery” is nothing of the sort. Countless people have already been there and have already offered the same observations and insights. And when my new find is an acclaimed, iconic, hugely influential director like Sergio Leone, the sheepishness is particularly acute. How in the world have I not “discovered” him already?
Even over the phone, I could hear my brother’s amusement as I happily babbled about Once Upon a Time in the West, my first Leone film. Henry Fonda plays the bad guy! Leone’s use of sound to rachet tension is incredible! Composer Ennio Morricone is a brilliant melodist! The big reveal of Harmonica’s shadowy motives actually lives up to the buildup! Director Quentin Tarantino has virtually duplicated some of Leone’s key shots in his own movies! Smoky eye makeup can look really cool! Michael would agree with me and bounce back ideas of his own, but I know him well enough to hear his unspoken thoughts: You really didn’t know the black hat was going to be Henry Fonda?!