Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: once on April 11, 2011, 04:28:51 AM



Title: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: once on April 11, 2011, 04:28:51 AM
Shortly after Once Upon A Time In America was first released, Sergio Leone did a lengthy interview with Cahiers Du Cinema.  Some of his comments are similar to ones made at other times but some of the details he gives are more specific and candid than many of the other quotes I have  read.  Interesting to read Sergio Leone's own words, from April 1984, when the memories of events were still fresh in his mind.

Subjects covered include the cuts to the movie, the disputes, a long version, director friends, Harry Grey, the garbage truck, filming, research, sound, De Niro, Eastwood, Bronson, My Name Is Nobody, his father and mother, cinema, other genres, Blade Runner, future projects.

Roughly translated:

Cahiers. Why did the film take so long to complete?

Sergio Leone. I already wanted, you know, to make this film before I did Once Upon A Time In The West. The Americans asked me to make a Western again first, which started me on a new trilogy.

I had many problems getting the rights to the book. They had been taken by the director Dan Curtis; then there was Genoves and Lebovici who wanted to produce it in France but they failed to get the rights; then Grimaldi managed to get them, but he went back on our deal because his recent films, notably with Fellini, had not been going well, so I went to court against him because he made me lose two or three years where I was immobilised.

Finally, Arnon Milchan purchased the rights from Grimaldi. To acquire the rights, Grimaldi had been obliged to make a replacement film for Dan Curtis in the States, a tale of terror, Burnt Offerings with Bette Davis ... that did not do well.

Cahiers. How did this disagreement over the duration of the film happen?

S. Leone. It's a complicated story. They gave me carte blanche to do four and a half hours with the idea that it would be made in two parts, that is to say two films coming out together.

But four months after the start of filming, they said to me no, it is not possible, because in the U.S. (that's what they told me, I do not know if it is the truth), a sequel can not come out less than three months after the first part, for competitive reasons, because operators are not necessarily the same for both parts. If it were possible for both parts to be released simultaneously, it would result in unfair competition from operators who have a single theater. It therefore seems that some operators cannot handle a double distribution. They demanded that I cut the film.

I did not want to go back to the first concept which was three hours. I cut as much as I could, and I arrived at the 3hours 40min version which you have seen. But then they wanted me to cut a further hour, especially in the beginning. The only possibility would be to remove the flashback construction, and I did not want that. We'll see. I have retained a very good French lawyer, Leo Matarasso (the lawyer of Orson Welles), because the contract was made in France under the Napoleonic Code. I also have a lawyer in the U.S. to try to stop distribution in a truncated version. But my first course of action must be against the producer, who is in France.

I have proved my good intentions by agreeing to cut to the limits of the comprehensibility of the story, and also from parts constructed in flashback, the battle is about to begin, we'll see. But the truth, in the USA there is no-one to speak to, no boss. The Alan Ladd Companies depend on Warner, and at Warner there is not a single executive, but many people who think the same way and are bound by the rules. If they say, less than three hours, we cannot discuss further because they also need to change the mindset of retailers and everything else. They do not want to engage in a battle with the distributors or take any responsibility.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: moviesceleton on April 11, 2011, 07:35:47 AM
Thanks O0 Is there any way to get the full interview (translated)?


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on April 11, 2011, 09:37:51 AM
Wasn't there already a post about this article? Anyway, I have the magazine, so I can translate some parts. We should share.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on April 13, 2011, 03:58:10 AM
Great work! Thanks a lot for this!


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: dave jenkins on April 13, 2011, 11:59:25 AM
Great work! Thanks a lot for this!
I second that emotion:  O0 O0


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: moviesceleton on April 13, 2011, 02:07:03 PM
Yes, awesome work O0

Did anyone else notice that "a love scene with Deborah as a young girl" would make a huge difference if it is with Noodles? (I'm taking it that "a love scene" means more than just holding hands...) In the current 229 min cut Noodles never has sex with Deborah before he rapes her. And even if that love scene was with somebody else it would be just as (or maybe even more) dramatic.   


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 13, 2011, 02:40:20 PM
Great work! Thanks a lot for this!
I second that emotion:  O0 O0
Yes, awesome work O0

Indeed  O0 O0


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: cigar joe on April 13, 2011, 05:23:11 PM
 O0 O0 O0


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 15, 2011, 01:18:44 PM
Cahiers. Is it true that you worked as a director on Tonino Valerii's My Name Is Nobody which you produced?

S. Leone. I led the second team. To help complete the film more quickly, I led the first battle and the final, while Tonino did the rest.

What's the exact wording of this bit? By the first battle, does he mean the one where Fonda faces the Wild Bunch? I'm hoping he's not claiming to have directed the introductory barber's shop scene!


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 16, 2011, 05:24:43 PM
Cahiers. Est-il vrai que vous avez travaillé sur la réalisation de Mon nom est personne signée Tonino Valerii et produit par vous?

S. Leone. J'ai dirigé la seconde équipe. Pour aider à terminer le film plus vite, j'ai dirigé le début, la bataille et le final, pendant que Tonino faisait le reste.

It should probably be translated: "...I directed the beginning, the battle and the ending..."

- - -

It's similar to the statements he made in Simsolo's Conversation Avec Sergio Leone:

Simsolo: Est-il vrai que vous en ayez tourné plusieurs séquences?

Leone: C'est exact. J'ai mis en scène le début, la bataille et le duel final. J'y étais obligé parce qu'Henry Fonda avait un stop-date. C'est-à-dire qu'à partir d'un certain jour, il devait quitter le plateau pour une pièce de théâtre ou un autre film. àfin de tenir le plan de travail, j'ai dirigé la seconde équipe.

Thanks Once. That's interesting because with the Simsolo interview I always wanted to assume that he said "mis en scène" rather than "dirigé" because he set everything up for Valerii to direct without actually directing himself.

However in the Cahiers interview he is saying "dirigé" so there's no room for ambiguity there.

Apart from it being an obvious homage to OUATITW, I just can't see the Leone touch in that first scene and tend to believe Valerii when he says that Leone hadn't even arrived in the US at that point. There's photographic evidence of him helping in the Wild Bunch Battle and the end duel but I haven't seen anything with him there for the opening scene.

One thing for sure is that he directed Terence Hill as he wondered round the fairgound, in the saloon with the glasses and during the peeing sequence, yet Leone doesn't mention any of that.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: dave jenkins on April 16, 2011, 09:03:38 PM
Perhaps he wanted credit only for the parts of the film he thought successful.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on April 17, 2011, 02:24:22 AM


Apart from it being an obvious homage to OUATITW, I just can't see the Leone touch in that first scene



But I see it. In every second of it.
Even in an unspectacular scene like Fonda talking to the telegraphist. In his previous 4 westerns Valerii never achieved one scene which achieved half of the beauty of this shots.


To repeat me:
There are only a few ordinary looking shots in the whole film, while Valerii's other films are mainly consisted of average material.
Nobody is an elegant film, while Valerii unfortunately was a clumsy director.


The 3 scenes which Leone mentions are the 3 which most obviously contain the Leone touch, so it was quite generous of him to claim them all for himself. ;)


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 17, 2011, 04:17:12 AM
There's photographic evidence of Leone doing the scene with Hill at the barber's shop at the very end. Maybe he's just confusing it with the one with Fonda ??? ;D



Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: cigar joe on April 17, 2011, 05:23:25 AM
I've seen the photographic evidence at the end in New Orleans, but not the barber shop.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 17, 2011, 05:32:48 AM
Check here:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=126.msg133644#msg133644


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: cigar joe on April 17, 2011, 05:59:13 AM
I meant the beginning barbershop sequence with Fonda.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Groggy on April 17, 2011, 09:33:48 AM
But I see it. In every second of it.
Even in an unspectacular scene like Fonda talking to the telegraphist. In his previous 4 westerns Valerii never achieved one scene which achieved half of the beauty of this shots.


To repeat me:
There are only a few ordinary looking shots in the whole film, while Valerii's other films are mainly consisted of average material.
Nobody is an elegant film, while Valerii unfortunately was a clumsy director.


The 3 scenes which Leone mentions are the 3 which most obviously contain the Leone touch, so it was quite generous of him to claim them all for himself. ;)

I really have no idea what you're talking about. I agree that Valerii was something of a hack, but what's this nonsense about Nobody being "elegant"?


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Leonardo on April 17, 2011, 10:17:42 AM
Thanks Once! Well done! O0


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on April 17, 2011, 12:41:15 PM
I really have no idea what you're talking about. I agree that Valerii was something of a hack, but what's this nonsense about Nobody being "elegant"?

Elegantly directed, very elegantly. Very stylish. One of the best directed SWs, one of the best directed westerns. I deeply enjoy nearly every shot in it for it's inner beauty.

I know you see it different, well, I can't help it. That is no nonsense, that is what I feel when I watch it. A pure pleasure (well, most of it).


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Groggy on April 17, 2011, 12:47:13 PM
I especially like the elegance in the scenes where Hill throws a pie at the guy's face and slaps the baddies around with the wooden statue.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 18, 2011, 03:20:13 PM
It's actually really weird watching the fairground scene from the man on stilts up to the saloon sequence and also the urinal scene at the train station, because the content is stupid and vulgar yet the filming is very beautiful. It's an extraordinarily strange combination.



Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on April 20, 2011, 12:22:19 AM
I meant the beginning barbershop sequence with Fonda.

Ah right, same with me then.

There is a lot of evidence for several other parts while this is conspicuously lacking! It supports what Valerii says about Leone not being in the US for the filming of these sequences early on in the film.

It actually all makes sense - Leone helped film things in Europe and helped out on the later stuff in the US. If he had been there for these early sequence too, then it would suggest that he was there the whole time which I don't think anyone is claiming.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on April 20, 2011, 05:47:00 AM
Too bad there isn't anything by Fonda about Nobody.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on March 04, 2014, 06:22:53 AM
Somebody translated the whole interview:

http://www.lb2121.webspace.virginmedia.com/docs/cahiers.pdf


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: moviesceleton on March 04, 2014, 05:06:35 PM
Somebody translated the whole interview:

http://www.lb2121.webspace.virginmedia.com/docs/cahiers.pdf
O0 Thanks!


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on March 05, 2014, 02:17:45 AM
Seems to be a pretty bad translation.

"j'ai dirigé le début, la bataille et le final," is not exactly "I led the first battle and the final,"

He said the same to Simsolo. So at least Leone does not contradict himself, and in both cases he does not mention the other stuff he most likely also directed.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on March 05, 2014, 02:58:07 AM
Yep, didn't read the whole thing, I own the original article and (good) French is more convenient to me :)

About MNIN: he doesn't contradict himself, but if I remember correctly the book was writen around the same time (may be in 1985?) and this article was published in may 1984. He had no reason to change his version between two interviews recorded over 13 years after the facts. It would be more insightful to find out what he said on the topic in the mid 70's.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on March 05, 2014, 03:50:24 AM
There are many stories circulating, but the 3 scenes Leone mentions are the best of the film, and those which look at most like Leone. For the last 2 there is enough photographic evidence of Leone being on the set in aa active manner.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on March 05, 2014, 03:59:51 AM
They're also among the best written ones so that may help :)

My favorite scene is the cemetery one. The whole film is in that "Il n'a jamais existé, le bon vieux temps" line (no idea how he says it in English... something like "There was never any good old time"?). Myth, past, old/new generation, old/new western movies, child dreams, nihilism... everything is there.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: dave jenkins on March 05, 2014, 07:28:03 AM
They're also among the best written ones so that may help :)

My favorite scene is the cemetery one. The whole film is in that "Il n'a jamais existé, le bon vieux temps" line (no idea how he says it in English... something like "There was never any good old time"?).
"There was/were never any good old days." Good old days is an idiomatic expression.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: stanton on March 05, 2014, 12:06:01 PM
Yes, the cemetery scene is a great one too.
Certainly Leone forgot to mention that he directed this one too. Or his overly famous modesty demanded to name only 3 scenes.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on March 05, 2014, 04:47:00 PM
 ;D ;D

"Well basically, I directed the movie. Except for the parts you didn't like."


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on March 06, 2014, 06:30:20 AM
"There was/were never any good old days." Good old days is an idiomatic expression.

I had not seen the answer, sorry. Thanks DJ!


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: dave jenkins on March 06, 2014, 07:23:08 AM
;D ;D

"Well basically, I directed the movie. Except for the parts you didn't like."
;D ;D ;D


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on March 06, 2014, 07:46:40 PM
Yes, the cemetery scene is a great one too.
Certainly Leone forgot to mention that he directed this one too. Or his overly famous modesty demanded to name only 3 scenes.

If my memory serves me correctly, there is an interview where he claims credit for that scene as well.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: drinkanddestroy on May 14, 2014, 03:04:01 AM
we discussed this already somewhere else, but what the hell: RE: FOD, this is from page 133 of STDWD:

According to Tonino Valerii: Leone didn't actually spend any time at all in Almeria, during the shoot. Franco Giraldi shot the famous scene at the Rio Bravo Canyon, the night-time sequence when the Baxter house burns down, and the key exteriors in the desert."* Giraldi himself recalls that he was appointed at the last minute, when the crew was already in Madrid, "because they hadn't realized till then that they would need a second unit at all."** Leone restricted himself to shooting the Stranger's scenes and cutaways. But he did help to recce the location, and found a cobbled courtyard, with a well and adobe dwellings, at Cortijo El Sotillo, some five minutes from San Jose to the east of Almeria town. Those belonged to a wealthy landowner, and were ideal to serve as the outskirts of San Miguel in the film's all-important opening. Leone also looked at the two 'ramblas' (dried-up river beds) at the base of Los Filabres mountains above Tabernas, which could double as canyons through which Mexican heavies hurtled on their horses. But these were not very accessible at that time. There was no airport to speak of at Granada or Almeria, so the desert was a long train-ride from Madrid or an even longer car-ride from Malaga. Moreover, the surrounding region had little in the way of facilities, Almeria being the least developed region of Spain. Some claimed that Franco had deliberately punished Almeria for its fiercely Republican sympathies in the Civil War by not offering any central or regional government support. But since parts of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia were filmed there in spring 1962, the Almerian desert had become increasingly appealing to international film-makers.

*Here there is a footnote that reads, "Author's interview with Valerii; see also Montpellier pp. 61-63.
** Here the footnote reads, "Montpelleier, p. 60"

However, the rest of this paragraph has no footnote listing any source. So where did Frayling get the info for his sentence, "Leone restricted himself to shooting the Stranger's scenes and cutaways"? Frayling gives a source for just about every statement in the book, there are tons and tons of footnotes, so it's very strange that he doesn't give any source for that sentence.



Anyway, on p. 145, it says, about Leone:  When he was shooting Eastwood's entrance into San Miguel at Cortijo El Sotillo, he decided he would like Joe the Stranger to ride past a solitary tree in the desert, with a rope and noose hanging from it. But there weren't any trees in that part of the Almerian desert, and, after much animated discussion, Leone drove off in his cowboy hat to find one..." Frayling goes on to quote Eastwood telling the story of how Leone found a tree he liked in someone's yard, so he knocked on that person's door and said he was from the highway department and that the tree must be cut down for safety reasons, and then the crew sawed down the tree and used it for the movie. (Shame on them  >:D)
But after he finishes quoting Eastwood on this story, Frayling ends the paragraph with the following sentence. (this sentence is NOT part of Eastwood's quote; it is Frayling's own observation) :
So Leone was in Almeria, after all.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on May 18, 2014, 06:33:24 PM
From http://monnomestpersonne1973.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html

Quote
La présence de Sergio Leone au Cortijo El Sotillo de San José (Almeria) est bien attestée par les photogrammes des rushes montrés dans les Bonus du DVD Per un pugno di Dollari, RHV, 2008. Franco Giraldi ajoute lui-même dans le livre qui lui est consacré, qu'il ne vînt à Almeria que le dernier jour du tournage, avant de s'en retourner à Rome...

Roughly: "Sergio Leone's presence at Cortijo El Sotillo de San José (Almeria) is well attested by frames of rushes shown in the bonus features of the Per un pugno di Dollari, RHV, 2008 DVD. Franco Giraldo himself adds in the book dedicated to him that he only came to Almeria on the last day of shooting before returning to Rome"


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: cigar joe on May 19, 2014, 05:15:13 AM
From http://monnomestpersonne1973.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html

Roughly: "Sergio Leone's presence at Cortijo El Sotillo de San José (Almeria) is well attested by frames of rushes shown in the bonus features of the Per un pugno di Dollari, RHV, 2008 DVD. Franco Giraldo himself adds in the book dedicated to him that he only came to Almeria on the last day of shooting before returning to Rome"

Who is the "he" Giraldo or Leone?


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on May 19, 2014, 09:21:45 AM
It is as ambiguous in the original French as it is in Novencento's translation.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: Novecento on May 19, 2014, 08:42:24 PM
Hey noodles_leone, I think "he" refers to Giraldi given that the preceding paragraph says the following:

Quote
Clint, Dispara! traduit des textes de Carlo Gaberscek consacrés à Pour une poignée de Dollars, mais en reprenant l'erreur de créditer Franco Giraldi comme auteur des séquences tournées à Almeria.


Title: Re: Cahiers Du Cinema
Post by: noodles_leone on May 20, 2014, 03:39:50 AM
You're right! I hadn't read that paragraph.