JERICHO, NY, July 1, 2002 On Thursday, August 24 at 4:00 PM (ET), AMC will premiere ONCE UPON A TIME – SERGIO LEONE. This one-hour documentary takes a look at the global impact of Leone’s films, which raised the genre of the “Spaghetti Western” from B movie status to mainstream international hits. Exclusive interviews with Leone’s family and friends, as well as actors James Woods, James Coburn, Claudia Cardinale and director Quentin Tarantino, reveal the story behind this influential director.
In the 1950’s, American producers arrived in Italy to film what were to become known as the “sword and sandal epics.” Although these films thrived during this time, by the 1960’s, they began to fail at the box office. With the popularity of American western films in Southern Italy, Italian producers looked to create cheap, homegrown imitations. Enter Sergio Leone.
For Leone, growing up against the repressive backdrop of Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship harbored a deep longing for the American dream as epitomized by the Hollywood Westerns. Leone’s cynicism, born during Mussolini’s reign, would provide an undercurrent for his later film work. References to Leone’s experiences growing up during WW II, can be found in such films as A FIST FULL OF DYNAMITE.
For these films, American B-movie actors were brought in to help provide the illusion of being American-made. A young, little-known actor named Clint Eastwood from the TV series “Rawhide” caught Leone’s attention and was brought in to star in A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS. This “quick-draw” character
was to become one of the most recognizable screen icons in cinema history. The way Leone presented violence in these westerns would change the way in which the industry presented violence and would become a standard by which all films would be measured.
Actors like Eastwood, James Woods, James Coburn, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale were drawn to Leone’s style of directing. His attention to detail and thoroughness provided the cast and crew with respect and admiration for his work. Later films such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA were two of his most critically acclaimed films.
By the time of Leone’s death in 1989, his legacy left close to 20 films and a style of directing unsurpassed by his predecessors. In tribute to this innovative director, AMC will air each of the ONCE UPON A TIME films beginning at 5:00PM ET, directly following this documentary.
ONCE TIME A TIME-SERGIO LEONE was produced by Nicky Davies Williams and Richard Journo for Westbrook Films Ltd., in association with AMC. Executive Producer for AMC is David Sehring.
AMC is a premiere 24-hour movie network dedicated to the world of American film. With one of the finest, most comprehensive libraries of popular films, and a diverse blend of original series, documentaries and interstitials, AMC offers an elegant and contemporary entertainment destination. AMC is a fully distributed network reaching over 83,000,000 U.S. homes (as of May 2002) and ranking #16 in size among all 55 networks.
Since its launch in 1984, AMC has been dedicated to deepening the movie experience for its viewers, featuring film-loving celebrity hosts and an increasingly visible, critically acclaimed slate of original programming. AMC has more than doubled its original programming over the past 3 years and garnered many of the industry’s highest honors, including seven Emmy awards.
AMC is owned and managed by Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., a leader in news, sports and entertainment programming. A subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) and NBC, Rainbow manages American Movie Classics, WE: Women’s Entertainment, Bravo, The Independent Film Channel, muchmusic usa, Rainbow Sports Networks, News 12 Networks, MetroChannels and Mag Rack as well as the Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation and Rainbow Network Communications. In addition, Rainbow is a fifty-percent partner in FOX Sports Net. AMC is one of the assets included in the Rainbow Media Group tracking stock (NYSE: RMG), a series of Cablevision common stock. MGM (NYSE: MGM) owns a 20% stake in four of Rainbow’s national networks – AMC, Bravo, IFC, and WE: Women’s Entertainment.