Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
Although I’ve never seen a Sergio Leone film, I have heard his name thrown around amongst the greats and blossomed Clint Eastwood’s legendary career. I like to believe I lack knowledge about who is who or what is what and when is when in the realm of cinema before the 90’s, which is why I took this list completing journey to catch up on some vintage films and see the innovators of the directors I cherish now in the modern age. With that admitted, I still managed to become aware of Serge Leone’s presence and legacy but I never fully understood until now. As I ventured through the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s 50’s and now 60’s, I’ve seen many Western’s before this and now I can finally use this word and actually mean it when describing Leone’s work, that word is “groundbreaking”, completely groundbreaking.
Dark and moody. The tone is absolutely intense. Although this is basically the American version of 1961’s “Yojimbo”, the tone is much more darker. I honestly felt the protagonist could die. I never got that sense of danger for our hero from a John Wayne & James Stewart Western. No no, anyone can die, even the opposite gender, ethnicity or age. I felt everyone was at risk. Beautiful work from Sergio for making the protagonist vulnerable and not indestructible. The writing is a game changer as well. Other than some limited friendly jokes amongst Eastwood’s sidekick (who is very likable btw due to Wolfgang Lukschy’s performance), there’s hardly any happy-go-lucky slapstick humor or wisecracking. The dialogue feels completely natural, down to earth and in the moment.
Like I mentioned before about Leone’s popular reputation, the same could be said for Ennio Morricone’s work. Other than “The Thing”, “The Hateful Eight” & “Days of Heaven” (which scores I love), I haven’t fully experienced Ennio’s full-body of work. After what my ears have heard in this film and what I assume is about to come, I can voucher he’s one of the best to ever do it.
No cheap romance, no forced humor, no yeehaw action, no predictable characters nor plot devices. Just a good o’ dirty spaghetti western with a master behind the camera calling the shots. I can’t wait to see more.