By Keith Uhlich
The films of Sergio Leone are cobbled together from disparate parts and influences. As Sir Christopher Frayling notes in his audio commentary for A Fistful of Dollars (the first of four films included in the recently released DVD box set, "The Sergio Leone Anthology"), the opening credits—with their galloping, target-practice-ready silhouettes—are meant to mimic the James Bond series, then tremendously popular in Leone's home country of Italy. But to label this and Leone's subsequent productions as quintessentially Italian is to neglect the films' cosmopolitan realities: financial backers from Germany, Spain, and America; primary location shooting in Franco-controlled Spain; stars of all stripes, among them Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Gian Maria Volontè, Marianne Koch, and Klaus Kinski; and vocal post-dubbing tailored to the country of exhibition. Leone presides over these celluloid mish-mashes like a master chef; he isn't the only purveyor of these so-called spaghetti westerns, but he is the one whose worldwide reputation is most secure.
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