Sergio Leone Poster

Quotes (21)

  • [on Henry Fonda] I have never known an actor with such craft, with such professional seriousness; such a pleasant man, full of humor, so reserved and so keenly quick-witted.
  • [on Lee Van Cleef] His glance makes holes in the screen.
  • In my childhood, America was like a religion. Then, real-life Americans abruptly entered my life - in jeeps - and upset all my dreams. I found them very energetic, but also very deceptive. They were no longer the Americans of the West. They were soldiers like any others...materialists, possessive, keen on pleasures and earthly goods.
  • [on Clint Eastwood] As an actor, he has two expressions: with and without the hat.
  • [on Orson Welles] He was a hard man. He'd lose his temper. He broke telephones. He also drank. But he could also be sensitive. [...] At any rate, I found him fascinating. I had infinite admiration for his directing.
  • When I was young, I believed in three things: Marxism, the redemptive power of cinema, and dynamite. Now I just believe in dynamite.
  • My films are basically silent films. The dialogue just adds some weight.
  • The cowboy picture has got lost in psychology. The West was made by violent uncomplicated men, and it is this strength and simplicity that I try to recapture in my pictures.
  • In our society man is forced to undergo violence of every kind without being able to react. In the old West, a man with a pistol could make his own justice. Now he must go to a magistrate.
  • All the killings in my films are exaggerated because I wanted to make a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns.
  • I've always had the sensation that people in America are always avant-garde. Very attentive to all the new innovations. But it's very specialized. The American public is a very specialized public.
  • [on why he decided to become a filmmaker] My mother was an actress. My father was an actor and a director. I am the son of filmmakers. I was born with this bow tie made of celluloid on my collar.
  • The director comes first. Writers should have no illusions about that. But the writer comes second. Directors too, should have no illusions about that.
  • When I go to the cinema, I'm often frustrated because I can guess exactly what is going to happen about ten minutes into the screening. So, when I'm working on a subject, I'm always looking for the element of surprise.
  • My life, my reading, everything about me revolves around the cinema. So for me, cinema is life, and vice-versa.
  • [on weather or not his unmade Leningrad film will be his most pessimistic film] If death is a sign of pessimism, I guess so.
  • I had never thought of making a western even as I was making it. I think that my films are westerns only in their exterior aspects. Within them are some of my truths, which happily, I see, belong to lots of parts of the world. Not just America. My discussion is one that has gone all the way from Fistful of Dollars through Once Upon a Time in America. But if you look closely at all these films, you find in them the same meanings, the same humor, the same point of view, and, also, the same pains.
  • [If his unmade Leningrad film would be a metaphor for 1987 politics] If anything, it might be some kind of example, but not a metaphor. What I hope, as a result, is that Reagan and Gorbachov, after seeing the film, would be a little friendlier between themselves.
  • I work with intuition. With interpreters. I have my own method. I know exactly what I want from actors. Sometimes, I even recite the role to the actor if it's not clear. And I beg them not to imitate me, because I'm not a good actor. I tell them this is the idea, so they understand exactly what I want. And if they don't understand, they redo the scene until they understand [laughs].
  • [interviewer asks Leone about weather or not he agrees with the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that action is character] The truth is that I am not a director of action as, in my view, neither was John Ford. I'm a director of gestures and silences. And an orator of images. However, if you really want it, I'll declare that I agree with old F. Scott Fitzgerald. I often say that action is character. But it's true that, to be more precise, I say, "Clack! Action and character, please." Certainly we must mean the same thing. At other times, for example when I'm at the dinner table, I sometimes say, "Clack! Let's eat. Pass the salt."
  • Once Upon a Time in America (1984) is my best film bar none, I swear, and I knew that it would be from the moment I got Harry Grey's book in my hand. I'm glad I made it, even though during the filming I was as tense as Dick Tracy's jaw. It always goes like that. Shooting a film is awful, but to have made a movie is delicious.