Once Upon a Time in America, Restored

Sir Christopher Frayling, an authority on the films of Sergio Leone, reflects on the maestro’s gangster epic.

frayling_sergio coverFor decades now, the vividly violent, emotionally rich Westerns of Italy’s Sergio Leone have thrilled film lovers—take that most prominent of movie geeks, Quentin Tarantino, who is set to fulfill a career-long dream with next month’s release of Django Unchained, his so-called spaghetti Southern. Hard as it is to believe, though, there was a time when almost no reputable critic would be caught dead taking these films seriously. Christopher Frayling, author of 1981’s landmark Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone, was the exception. “Everyone thought I was completely mad,” Frayling, 65, tells us from his home in London, with a delighted cackle. “But the world has since caught up.”

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Published in: Time Out New York
By: Joshua Rothkopf