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 an epic crime drama that spans several decades, following the lives of a group of Jewish gangsters in New York City.

The film is masterfully directed by Sergio Leone, who expertly weaves together a complex narrative that is both gritty and poetic.

Robert De Niro delivers a standout performance as David “Noodles” Aaronson, the film’s protagonist and former gang leader who returns to New York after a 35-year absence.

De Niro portrays Noodles with a quiet intensity and vulnerability, conveying the character’s inner turmoil and haunted past.

The film’s supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, and Tuesday Weld.

The cinematography is also stunning, capturing the gritty, urban landscape of New York City in the early 20th century.

At a runtime of nearly four hours, Once Upon a Time in America is a long and sometimes challenging watch but it is well worth the investment.

The film is a masterpiece of storytelling and a testament to Leone’s skill as a filmmaker. It is a must-see for fans of crime dramas and anyone who appreciates great cinema.

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) 

Once Upon a Time in the West is a classic western that takes the genre to new heights.

Director Sergio Leone creates a sweeping epic that is as beautiful as it is brutal The film is filled with unforgettable characters, including Charles Bronson’s stoic gunslinger, Henry Fonda’s chilling villain, and Claudia Cardinale’s determined widow.

Leone’s direction is masterful, using stunning cinematography and a haunting Ennio Morricone score to create a sense of foreboding and tension that builds throughout the film.

The pacing is deliberate, but never slow, as the plot unfolds in unexpected ways.


What sets Once Upon a Time in the West apart from other westerns is its attention to detail and its exploration of themes like greed, revenge, and the passing of the Old West.

Every shot feels carefully crafted, with Leone using the vast landscapes and the small details of everyday life to tell his story.


Once Upon A Time In The West
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Sergio Leone (Writer) - Fulvio Morsella (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an epic western masterpiece that stands the test of time.

Director Sergio Leone’s vision is brought to life through stunning cinematography, haunting music, and iconic performances from Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach.

The film’s plot revolves around three gunslingers in search of buried treasure during the American Civil War.

The tension between the three characters is palpable, and their verbal sparring matches are as entertaining as their shootouts.

The film’s pacing is deliberate, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the world of the Wild West.

Leone’s use of close-ups and extreme long shots adds to the film’s epic feel, and Ennio Morricone’s score is simply unforgettable.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is not just a western, it’s a cinematic experience.

It’s a film that rewards repeat viewings, and its impact on the genre cannot be overstated.

If you’re a fan of westerns or just great filmmaking, do yourself a favor and watch this classic.

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 a classic spaghetti western directed by the legendary Sergio Leone, and starring the iconic Clint Eastwood as the enigmatic “Man with No Name”.

The film is a triumph of style over substance, with stunning cinematography, a haunting score, and some of the most memorable shootouts in movie history.


Eastwood’s performance is understated yet powerful, as he effortlessly conveys a sense of danger and unpredictability throughout the film.

The supporting cast is also excellent, with memorable turns from Gian Maria Volonté as the villainous Ramón Rojo, and Marianne Koch as the love interest, Marisol.

The plot is relatively simple, with Eastwood’s character playing two rival gangs against each other in a bid to make some quick cash.

However, it is the execution that sets this film apart, with Leone’s masterful direction and Ennio Morricone’s iconic score elevating the material to something truly special.

A Fistful of Dollars
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, John Wels (Actors)
  • Sergio Leone (Director) - Sergio Leone (Writer) - Giorgio Papi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

For a Few Dollars More is a masterful spaghetti western that solidifies director Sergio Leone’s place in cinematic history.

The film stars Clint Eastwood as the iconic “Man with No Name” as he teams up with Lee Van Cleef’s character to take down a ruthless gang of outlaws.

The film’s cinematography is stunning, with Leone’s signature use of extreme close-ups and wide shots creating a sense of tension and grandeur.

Ennio Morricone’s haunting score perfectly complements the action on screen, building suspense and emotion in equal measure.

But what truly elevates For a Few Dollars More is the performances of Eastwood and Van Cleef.

Their dynamic chemistry crackles with intensity, and their characters’ motivations are expertly woven together in a tale of revenge and redemption.

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6. Duck, You Sucker! (1971)        

Duck, You Sucker! is a thrilling spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone, which tells the story of a Mexican bandit named Juan Miranda (played by Rod Steiger) and an Irish explosives expert named John Mallory (played by James Coburn) who team up for a daring heist during the Mexican Revolution.

The film is a masterpiece of epic proportions, with stunning cinematography, gripping action sequences, and a powerful score by Ennio Morricone.

What stands out most about Duck, You Sucker! is the dynamic chemistry between Steiger and Coburn, who deliver unforgettable performances as two very different men brought together by fate.

Steiger’s portrayal of the boisterous and cunning Juan Miranda is a tour de force, while Coburn’s stoic and mysterious John Mallory provides the perfect foil.

Leone’s direction is impeccable, as he expertly weaves together the film’s many themes, from the struggle for revolution to the personal redemption of its characters.

The film’s climactic finale is a triumph of filmmaking, with a stirring message of hope and sacrifice that resonates long after the credits roll.

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 Colossus of Rhodes is a sword-and-sandal epic that follows the story of Darios, a Greek military hero who must save Rhodes from the tyrannical rule of the evil governor Serse.

The film is directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, who would go on to create some of the most iconic Westerns of all time.

The Colossus of Rhodes is a visually stunning film that features impressive set design and cinematography.

The opening scene alone, which showcases the titular Colossus towering over the city, is awe-inspiring.

The action scenes are also well-choreographed and exciting, with Darios taking on enemies both on land and at sea.

However, the film does suffer from a weak script and underdeveloped characters. Darios, played by Rory Calhoun, is a one-dimensional hero with little depth or complexity.

The romance between Darios and Diala, played by Lea Massari, also feels forced and lacking in chemistry.

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

8. The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)

“The Last Days of Pompeii is a classic epic that brings to life the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in its final hours.

The film boasts a fantastic cast, with Steve Reeves leading the pack as a blacksmith turned gladiator, and Christine Kaufmann playing a noblewoman caught up in the city’s destruction.

The production design and special effects are truly impressive, capturing the grandeur and devastation of the volcanic eruption that buried the city in ash.

The film also features thrilling action sequences, including a chariot race and epic battles in the gladiator arena.

While the film may lean towards melodrama at times, it’s ultimately a gripping tale of love, betrayal, and survival.

Fans of historical epics will not be disappointed by “The Last Days of Pompeii.” Overall, a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history and epic filmmaking.

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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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