This is a whopping big book for a whopping big movie. Christopher Frayling’s fiftieth anniversary account of the making of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West is about the same size as a mag of film and about the same weight as a Colt army revolver. Leone, who made a star of Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, once said that while Michelangelo had looked at a block of marble and seen Moses within, he had looked at Clint and seen a block of marble. Frayling, similarly, has looked long and hard at Leone’s spaghetti western and seen a marmoreal slab.
The slab could have been lightened had Frayling seen fit to give Quentin Tarantino’s rambling 27-page foreword an edit. Still, Tarantino is right when he argues that ‘Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone are the greatest composer/director collaboration in the history of film’, greater even than the Hitchcock–Bernard Herrmann