Sergio Leone was a film director, screenwriter and producer. He is best known for directing the films “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (1966), “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) and “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984).

Leone was born in Rome, Italy on August 23, 1923. His father was Cesare Leone and his mother was Lucia Mares. As a child, Leone loved films and would often sneak into movie theaters with his friends. He later studied to become an actor but eventually left after realizing that acting wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life.

Best Sergio Leone Movies

Here are the best Sergio Leone movies, ranked from best to worst. These films are not in any particular order.

1. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

 Once Upon a Time in America is a 1984 epic crime film written and directed by Sergio Leone. A sequel to the 1950 film Once Upon a Time in the West, it stars Robert De Niro and James Woods as friends who are caught up in the Jewish gangster Mickey Cohen’s (Sean Penn) quest for power.

The film won Leone an Academy Award for Best Director, and was nominated for five other Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Woods), Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.

The story begins in 1948 New York City, at the height of the Italian-American mob war between two factions: The Forellis and The Gambinos. A young Jewish man named Jacob “Jake” Bloom (Robert De Niro) works as a bootlegger during Prohibition while also trying to win the heart of his childhood friend Deborah Gant (Mary Badham).

Jake’s brother Sam (Charles Cioffi) joins him in his illegal business after being released from prison; also partaking is their childhood friend Leo (Dennis Farina). However, when Jake gets into trouble with local gangsters such as Leo’s father Dominick “Big Joe” Corbino (Joe Pesci), he seeks assistance

Once Upon a Time in America
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Stuart Kaminsky (Writer) - Arnon Milchan (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) 

Sergio Leone’s classic Western is one of the most iconic films of all time. It stars Henry Fonda as a former Confederate soldier who must fight for his life after being betrayed by his own men. The film also features Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards and Toshiro Mifune.

The story follows two brothers on opposite sides of the Civil War. For Jesse (Fonda), there is only one thing worth fighting for: revenge against Frank (Mifune). But when Jesse finds himself alone, he must decide whether to fight on or give up what little hope he has left.

Once Upon a Time in the West is one of those movies that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves cinema, whether they’re familiar with Westerns or not.

A beautiful film with a haunting score by Ennio Morricone and brilliant cinematography from Tonino Delli Colli, Once Upon a Time in the West is one of those rare classics that never gets old.

Here’s our guide to spaghetti westerns covering the history and evolution of the genre:

Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Sergio Leone (Writer) - Fulvio Morsella (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)

3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)            

 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) is a film by Italian director Sergio Leone. The film stars Clint Eastwood as three men who are competing to find the $200,000 in gold buried by an old man named Tuco (Eli Wallach).

The three men include a veteran Mexican bandit Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), a bounty hunter named Lee Van Cleef and an unidentified American soldier named Tuco.

The film was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Sergio Leone. It is also known for its violent and surreal violence scenes. The violence was so intense that it caused some critics to claim that it was “outrageous”.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has been praised for its cinematography, score, direction and acting. The film won four Oscars at the 47th Academy Awards including Best Director for Sergio Leone.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Agenore Incrocci (Writer) - Alberto Grimaldi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

A Fistful of Dollars is the first film by Italian director Sergio Leone. It was released in 1964 and stars Clint Eastwood as a mysterious stranger who arrives in a small Mexican town and offers to help a gang of bandits steal $50,000 from a nearby American consul.

The plot is based on Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which was itself adapted from Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer, but Leone’s film is much more violent than its source material.

The film has been described as one of the best examples of Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns ever made. It has been praised for its cinematography, score and editing.

The film also depicts violence in an unexpected manner, often showing bodies being blown apart or limbs being cut off, with no blood spilled at all except when needed for dramatic effect.

It was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning Best Cinematography, Best Sound Recording and Best Editing

A Fistful of Dollars
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Sergio Leone (Writer) - Giorgio Papi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More is one of the most famous spaghetti westerns, as well as one of the best. It’s also one of Leone’s most controversial films, and not just because he changed the ending to satisfy American audiences.

The film is an epic tale about a group of bandits who rise up against their corrupt Mexican government and a bandit leader named Tuco (Eli Wallach).

The movie begins with gang leader Rocco Barzini (Lee Van Cleef) recruiting his friends (one of whom is played by Henry Fonda) to rob a bank in order to secure enough money to retire peacefully after 25 years of crime.

Unfortunately for Rocco, the bank is guarded by henchman “Strawfoot” Pete Tristano (Terence Hill), who forces him and his men to kill everyone in their way before leaving them all for dead.

Rocco ends up living with Tristano’s daughter Maria (Claudia Cardinale) and raising their son Gabriele (John Phillip Law). When Gabriele grows up he decides that he wants to become an outlaw like his father did. However, when Maria meets

For A Few Dollars More (1965) [DVD]
  • Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director)
  • English, Greek (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

6. Duck, You Sucker! (1971)        

 Duck, You Sucker! is a 1971 Western film directed by Sergio Leone. It stars Henry Fonda, Bruce Dern and Robert Duvall.

The film’s title comes from the line “Duck, you sucker” used by the narrator (Robert Towne) to describe the man who betrays his friends. The phrase was also used in the previous film, A Fistful of Dollars (1966), where it was spoken by Clint Eastwood’s character, Manco.


A stranger (Henry Fonda) wanders into a small town in Texas and meets its inhabitants: a local sheriff (Bruce Dern), his deputy (Robert Duvall) and two cowboys (Andrew Duggan and Jim Brown). One of the cowboys is killed during their first encounter with bandits, who then kidnap the woman they were courting.

At nightfall, the stranger goes to see Sheriff Travis (Dern) outside his house. Travis tells him that he has been looking for him because he killed one of their outlaws but that he must kill another before he can leave town alive;

otherwise they will kill everyone in town including women and children. The stranger kills one of them but later finds out that Travis’ daughter was one of

Duck, You Sucker (1971) ( Giù la testa ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import - Italy ]
  • Duck, You Sucker (1971) ( Giù la testa ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo)
  • Duck, You Sucker (1971)
  • Giù la testa
  • Rod Steiger, James Coburn, Romolo Valli (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Duck, You Sucker (1971) ( Giù la testa ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) (Producer)

7. The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)             

The first half of this film is a brilliant, if somewhat confusing, adventure yarn. The second half is a tale of the assassination of Julius Caesar, which was based on the historical event and is one of the most famous films about it.

The film opens in Rhodes, where young Hercules (Steve Reeves) and his orphaned friend Iolaus (John Richardson) are slaves to their master, the pirate Aristius (Leone).

When Hercules gains his freedom by winning a wrestling match against Aristius’ son and heir, he immediately becomes involved with a slave girl named Clea (Gia Scala). Clea’s mother has been sold into slavery by her father because he could no longer afford to keep her.

The two fall in love but are interrupted when Iolaus also wins his freedom from Aristius and goes off to Athens with an Athenian philosopher named Dardanus (Curd Jurgens).

Hercules then goes back to Rhodes where he finds that his mother has been captured by another pirate named Pygmalion (Gabriele Ferzetti), who wants her for himself. In order to save her life, Hercules must help Pygmalion defeat his rival Basilisco (L

Colossus of Rhodes
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Rory Calhoun, Lea Massari, Georges Marchal (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Sergio Leone (Writer) - Michele Scaglione (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)

Pompeii is a 1959 Italian film directed by Sergio Leone. It is based on the novel The Last Days of Pompeii by Robert Graves, who wrote the screenplay with his uncle William and Carl Foreman.

The film stars Kirk Douglas as Lucius Vorenus, Tony Curtis as Glaucus, John Cassavetes as Caecilius, Fabio Testi as Otho, Ursula Andress as Cornelia and Gloria Guida as Batina.

The story begins in 60AD just after Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii under a thick layer of ash and pumice. A Roman legion prepares to march out of town to put down a local revolt while its centurion Lucius Vorenus (Kirk Douglas) tries to keep his men together. The citizens of Pompeii are also preparing for evacuation when Mount Vesuvius erupts again and completely destroys their city.

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Characteristics of Sergio Leone Movies

 The films of Sergio Leone are characterized by their distinctive visual style and their originality. The director’s use of close-up shots, long takes, fast cutting, and rapid camera movements were a major part of the film’s appeal to critics and audiences.

The films of Sergio Leone are characterized by their distinctive visual style and their originality. The director’s use of close-up shots, long takes, fast cutting, and rapid camera movements were a major part of the film’s appeal to critics and audiences.

The films’ characters are often portrayed as morally ambivalent or contradictory, which makes them more interesting to watch than traditional heroes who always behave in predictable ways.

This approach was particularly evident in the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone (1960–70), who used these characters as a means of exploring questions about freedom versus lawlessness, and individualism versus tradition.

While some critics have objected that such films lack depth or complexity (aside from Leone), others have argued that they can be enjoyed on an almost purely visual level: “They are movies seen through a screen,” wrote one reviewer after seeing For a Few Dollars More (1965).

Best Sergio Leone Movies – Wrapping Up

As I’ve said before, if you’re only going to watch one movie this year, it should be The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It’s a classic film that stands up to time and is still just as good as when it was first released.

If you’re more of a fan of spaghetti westerns than westerns in general, then my personal favorite would have to be Once Upon a Time in America. There are so many great performances in this film and it’s one of those rare films where you can get lost in it for hours on end.

The set pieces in Once Upon A Time in America are incredible, but there were two scenes that blew me away: One was where Robert De Niro got shot by someone who looked like he just stepped out of an ancient art gallery.


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