FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LIGHTS . . . CAMERA . . . LEONE
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ITALY . . .
The Westerns of Sergio Leone
July 30, 2005, through January 22, 2006
One of the largest and most elaborate museum exhibitions ever organized to honor a single director
Museum of the American West
234 Museum Drive, Los Angeles 90042
Contact, Jay Aldritch
323.221.2164, Fax: 323.224.8223
Web site, <http://www.autrynationalcenter.org>
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed major holidays
Admission: Adults, $7.50; Seniors and Students, $5; Youths 7-17, $3; Children under 6 years, free
Italian director Sergio Leone (1929-89)
Los Angeles Lights! Camera! Actione! Leone! Through the films A Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; and Once Upon a Time in the West, Italian director Sergio Leone (19291989) created a new style of Western. Described as a truly original and unique filmmaker, Leone-style Westerns feature extreme close-ups; soundtracks by Ennio Morricone with whistling and electric guitar; witty dialogue such as, “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk!” (Eli Wallach in a bathtub scene as Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966); and character names such as “Blondie” and “Angel Eyes” (Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, respectively, in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).
This summer, the Autry National Center examines Leone’s Western films in the landmark exhibition Once Upon a Time in Italy . . . The Westerns of Sergio Leone, opening to the public on July 30, 2005. This exhibition is one of the largest and most elaborate ever organized to honor a single director.
This spectacular museum exhibition will feature original costumes, set designs, movie posters, and never-seen-before mini-documentaries revealing Leone’s love affair with Hollywood movies and his legacy to cinema around the world. Some of the remarkable pieces of cinema history on display include firearms used on location; costumes worn by Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and James Coburn; set and costume designs by production designer Carlo Simi; rare Italian and international posters . . . plus a few more (surprise) artifacts! Visitors to this one-of-a-kind special exhibition will be drawn to and enchanted by the props, iconic costumes, pencil designs of sets they all know and love, and the scripts that were used by major actors and touched by Sergio Leone himself. But, in addition to the experience of the “real thing,” the exhibition gives visitors substantive information about Sergio Leone’s life and career development as a major director of cinema.
Once Upon a Time in Italy . . . The Westerns of Sergio Leone is cocurated by Leone biographer Sir Christopher Frayling and Estella Chung, Associate Curator of Popular Culture at the Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West. Frayling, also serving as guest scholar for the exhibition, is Rector of the Royal College of Art in London; chair of the Arts Council England; and author of Sergio Leone: Something to Do With Death and the new publication in conjunction with the exhibition, also titled Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone (2005). Published by Harry N. Abrams in association with the Autry National Center, the lavishly illustrated publication includes interviews with Leone’s collaborators (composer, actors, designer, cinematographer, writers); an interview with Leone; Sergio Leone’s essay about his admiration of John Ford; afterword by Martin Scorsese; and introduction by cocurator Estella Chung.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, especially when you consider that the Italian release of A Fistful of Dollars was more than 40 years ago,” Chung says. “Sergio Leone died too young (in 1989 at the age of 60). Many of his colleagues, collaborators, and their families are still with us, and this provided us with a tremendous opportunity to locate artifacts in Europe and the United States . . . amazing gems of cinema history. Also, Leone has a very dedicated biographer, historian Christopher Frayling. After reading Frayling’s 1981 book, Spaghetti Westerns, Sergio Leone wanted to meet Christopher Frayling, because the book had material about Leone’s father (Vincenzo Leone) that Sergio didn’t know about before! You could say this exhibition has been in the making for over 20 years.
“Leone’s Westerns still influence directors today, directors who work in different genres,” Chung continues, “and the membership of the exhibition’s honorary committee recognizes this. For the actors, particularly the American actors, working on a Leone film marked a new series of experiences.”
The Leone Film Arts Committee established by the Autry National Center consists of film professionals who acknowledge the significance of Leone’s work. The exhibition’s honorary committee is cochaired by Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone’s widow, Carla Leone. Directors Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, Paul Mazursky, John Landis, Joe Dante, and John Milius, actress Claudia Cardinale, actor Eli Wallach, costume designer Deborah Landis, Mrs. Rory Calhoun (Susan), and Mrs. Henry Fonda (Shirlee) are members of the committee.
As Leone’s biographer and cocurator of the exhibition, Christopher Frayling tells us, “Sergio Leone once said, ‘I grew up in the cinema, almost. Both my parents worked there. My life, my reading, everything about me revolves around the cinema. So for me, cinema is life and vice versa.’ Born in Rome in 1929, Leone first wandered onto a sound stage at Cinecitta Studios in Rome in 1941, at the age of 12, to watch his father Vincenzo shooting a film. Leone’s mother, who had adopted the stage name of Bice Walerian, was an actress who appeared in the very first Italian movie WesternLa Vampira Indiana (1913).
As a child, Leonelike many Italians in the years between the two world warshad viewed the United States of America as a model of freedom, a glimpse of modernity and promise at a time of Fascist repression. The America he loved was experienced through the moviesand especially through Westerns. All of Leone’s mature films are about the peculiar strength of American cinematic myths and how they relate to the reality of adult experience; that is why he called his work ‘fairy tales for adults.’ ”
Sergio Leone (1929-1989) was an Italian director of Western films. The exhibition Once Upon a Time in Italy is about the Western film genre as interpreted by a great European filmmaker.
Visitors will learn:
1. What influenced Leone, an Italian filmmaker working in Rome, to make Westerns
2. The elements of a Leone-style Western
3. How Sergio Leone influenced cinema around the world
Public Opening and Special Previews
The museum exhibition Once Upon a Time in Italy . . . The Westerns of Sergio Leone opens to the public on Saturday, July 30, at the Autry’s Museum of the American West in Griffith Park.
Special previews of the exhibition for museum members will be on Tuesday, July 26, and Friday, July 29. For information, call the museum’s Membership Department at 323.667.2000, ext. 264.
A press preview is scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 26. To schedule an interview with the cocurators, contact Jay Aldrich, 323.667.2000, ext. 329, email@example.com .
The Autry National Center
The Autry National Center was established in March 2003 following the merger of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the Women of the West Museum, and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. Leveraging the resources and talents of these three institutions, the Center’s mission is to explore the experiences and perceptions of the diverse people of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inform our shared future.
About the Museum of the American West
The Museum of the American West provides rich learning opportunities for all people by exploring the myths and realities of the American West and its diverse populations. The museum enhances our understanding of the present by collecting, preserving, and interpreting objects and art, making connections between people today and those who have shaped the past.
The museum receives approximately 374,000 visitors annually and each year provides free guided tours and educational activities for more than 40,000 area schoolchildren. It is located in Griffith Park at 4700 Western Heritage Way, across from the Los Angeles Zoo, where the 5 and 134 freeways meet. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $3 for children. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and on major holidays except Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Thursdays, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Parking is free. Find out more about Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone by visiting the Museum of the American West’s website at <http://www.autrynationalcenter.org> .