One of cinema’s most legendary (and underappreciated) directors will be getting a five-film retrospective in Prague this week as Bio Oko takes a trip back to the era of 1960s spaghetti westerns.
Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, best known as the director behind the Man with No Name trilogy of European-produced westerns that launched Clint Eastwood to superstardom, will be honored during a five-night mini festival at eclectic Prague 7 cinema Bio Oko from today, July 17, through Saturday, July 21.
Not only did A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly launch the career of Eastwood (and composer Ennio Morricone), they also turned a less-than fully-reputable genre into a legitimate art form, and influenced countless filmmakers to this day.
All three features will be screened in order of release at Prague’s Bio Oko week, broken up by a Thursday night screening of what may be Leone’s finest western: Once Upon a Time in the West, starring Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, and Henry Fonda.
While Leone’s endlessly-imitated and frequently parodied Eastwood movies may be familiar fare even for viewers that haven’t seen them, Once Upon a Time in the West still packs a punch. It’s opening sequence with Fonda remains one of the most memorable in the history of cinema.
Sergio Leone only directed seven features during a relatively short career (he died a the age of 60 in 1989); his only films as director only films not screened at Bio Oko this week are his 1961 sword & sandal debut The Colossus of Rhodes and the underappreciated 1971 western Duck, You Sucker, starring James Coburn and Rod Steiger.
On Saturday night, Bio Oko will present what might be Leone’s crowning achievement: the epic New York City gangster movie Once Upon a Time in America, starring Robert De Niro, James Woods, Joe Pesci, and others.
Hacked by distributors to a 139-minute runtime upon its US release, Once Upon a Time in America was only seen in this version – and largely forgotten – for years. But in 2014, the movie was restored to its full 251-minute runtime.
It will be this extended 4+ hour version of the film that will screen at Bio Oko on Saturday, running well into the night (with a fifteen minute intermission at 23:30).
Tickets to each film this week at Bio Oko run 130 CZK, and every screening begins at 20:30 throughout the week.
Here’s the full lineup of films presented during Bio Oko’s Sergio Leone retrospective:
Tuesday, July 17: A Fistful of Dollars
Wednesday, July 18: For a Few Dollars More
Thursday, July 19: Once Upon a Time in the West
Friday, July 20: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Saturday, July 21: Once Upon a Time in America