Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece by Christopher Frayling - review by Christopher Bray

Christopher Bray

Last of the Gunslingers

Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece


Reel Art Press 335pp £50 order from our bookshop

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

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter