Polemics & Exchanges

On the Man With No Name

While I greatly enjoyed reading Roger D. McGrath’s “Westerns” (View, February) and R. Clay Reynolds’s “The Death of the Western” (View), I was rather surprised by the absence of Sergio Leone’s name in both pieces.  Leone’s four Italian Westerns from the 1960’s had an immeasurable impact on the genre; it can be argued that his films revitalized it as it started to decline.  And, while Leone’s films are considered by some to be parodies or spoofs, and by others to be intentionally subversive of the genre, the fact is that Leone loved American Westerns (he was a huge devotee of John Ford’s films and knew most of them by heart) and was saddened by the psychological, “serious” turn they began to take in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.

While Leone undoubtedly had it in mind to “demythologize” the West to a certain extent, this wasn’t done in a spirit of disdain or negativity, but out of a sense of respect and a felt loss.  He called his films “fairy tales for adults,” and he regretted that this fantastic, larger-than-life aspect of the Western was disappearing.  His attempt to bring this magic back...

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