Biography and best films of a great actor..Lee Van Cleef

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Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr. was a famous yesteryear American actor best known for his negative roles in films like ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’. His features, including steely eyes and hawk-like nose added with his finesse in acting saw him essaying several notable roles of Western arch-villains for decades. His rich body of work both as hero and anti-hero spanning over 38 years encompass 90 film and 109 television appearances. He did few odd jobs and had a stint in the United States Navy during the Second World War before foraying into acting with the 1950 play ‘Mister Roberts’. He made his film debut with ‘High Noon’ and went on to play minor villainous roles for more than a decade before landing up with his big break in the Sergio Leone directed 1965 spaghetti Western film ‘For a Few Dollars More’. The film garnered him attention and proved to be a turning point in his career. He rose to stardom with yet another Sergio Leone directed epic Spaghetti Western film ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ where he played “The Bad”.

What followed was an array of hero and anti-hero roles in several westerns and action films like ‘Sabata’, ‘El Condor’ and ‘Take a Hard Ride’ that only furthered his fame.

 

Following his tenure with the USN, Cleef, who also worked for a while as an accountant, got associated with the entertainment industry. He became involved with ‘Little Theater Group’ in Clinton, New Jersey, doing parts for them in plays including ‘Our Town’ and ‘Heaven Can Wait’ while also auditioning for other roles.
Around this time he was noticed by several visiting talent scouts, and one of whom introduced him to MCA agency’s talent agent Maynard Morris in New York City. Cleef was sent for an audition at the Alvin Theater by Morris where he landed up with the play ‘Mister Roberts’. He remained part of its original production and travelled to many cities performing in the play’s national touring production.
Film director Stanley Kramer spotted him at a ‘Mister Roberts’ stage production in Los Angeles and wanted to cast him in the role of Deputy Harvey Pell in the American Western film ‘High Noon’. However, when Cleef declined to alter his “distinctive nose” as Kramer wanted, he landed up with the non-speaking role of henchman Jack Colby in the 1952 film, marking his screen debut.
He had heterochromatic eyes – one being green and the other blue. However, his sinister features with hook nose, steely eyes and sharp cheeks and chin soon typecast him in minor villainous roles in films of different genres for the next 13 years or so.
Some of these films include the 1952 noir crime film ‘Kansas City Confidential’; the 1956 CinemaScope epic film ‘The Conqueror’; the 1957 western film ‘The Tin Star’; and the 1958 CinemaScope war drama film ‘The Young Lions’.
He also forayed into television in the early 1950s with initial works like ‘The Adventures of Kit Carson’ (1951 -1955, 6 episodes), ‘Sky King’ (1952, 1 episode) and ‘The Range Rider’ (1952–1953, 3 episodes) among others.
Over the years, he featured in many other TV series. These include ‘Death Valley Days’ (1954–1962, 2 episodes), ‘The Rifleman’ (1959–1962, 4 episodes); ‘Laramie’ (1960–1963, 4 episodes) and ‘Cheyenne’ (1961–1962, 3 episodes) to mention a few. The most notable TV appearance of Cleef was the starring role of John Peter McAllister in the ninja-themed action-adventure TV series ‘The Master’ that aired on NBC from January 20, 1984 to August 31 of that year.
He got his major break in films when Italian film director, producer and screenwriter Sergio Leone known for creating the “Spaghetti Western” genre offered him the role of Col. Douglas Mortimer, one of the main protagonists in the spaghetti Western film ‘For a Few Dollars More’. The film released in 1965 and became a major commercial hit.
In ‘For a Few Dollars More’ Cleef starred opposite Clint Eastwood. The role came to him at a critical juncture when he was striving to prolong his otherwise waning career. It gave his career a major boost garnering him fame and recognition as an actor of mettle and opened way for several other notable roles.
His second collaboration with Leone ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, a 1966 epic Spaghetti Western film, was an even bigger success that furthered his fame to new heights. He played a hard-hearted, merciless and sociopathic mercenary called ‘Angel Eyes: The Bad’ in the film, which garnered a whopping $25.1 million at the box-office against its budget of $1.2 million.
Cleef’s performance in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ established him as a big star of Spaghetti Westerns. He started getting several major and central characters in different films, both as hero and anti-hero.
His first film following ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ titled ‘The Big Gundown’ (1966) saw him playing Jonathan Corbett, the protagonist. His other central roles includes ‘Day of Anger’ (1967), ‘Death Rides a Horse’ (1967) and ‘The Grand Duel’ (1972).
The Gianfranco Parolini directed 1969 Italian Spaghetti Western film ‘Sabata’ and its second sequel ‘Return of Sabata’ (1971) featured Cleef in the titular role.
His other notable films include the 1975 DeLuxe Color Italian-American Spaghetti Western film ‘Take a Hard Ride’, the 1976 Italian–Israeli Spaghetti Western film ‘God’s Gun’; and the 1981 dystopian science-fiction action film ‘Escape from New York’ among others.

15.The Hard Way

Lee Van Cleef, Patrick McGoohan

Released: 1979

Directed by: Michael Dryhurst

The Hard Way is a 1979 film directed by Michael Dryhurst.

14.The Lawless Breed

Rock Hudson, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1953

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

The Lawless Breed is a 1953 western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson. The film is based on the life of outlaw John Wesley Hardin.

13.The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Lee Van Cleef, Cecil Kellaway

Released: 1953

Directed by: Eugène Lourié

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 American science fiction monster film from Warner Bros., produced by Jack Dietz and Hal E. Chester, directed by Eugène Lourié, and starring Paul Christian,.

12.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

John Wayne, James Stewart

Released: 1962

Directed by: John Ford

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford starring James Stewart and John Wayne. The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures.

 

11.The Magnificent Seven Ride

Gary Busey, Stefanie Powers

Released: 1972

Directed by: George McCowan

The Magnificent Seven Ride is a 1972 western film and is the third and last sequel of the 1960 western, The Magnificent Seven. It stars Lee Van Cleef as Chris Adams, succeeding Yul Brynner and George..

10.Day of Anger

Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma

Released: 1967

Directed by: Tonino Valerii

Day of Anger, also known by its UK video title Gunlaw, is a 1967 spaghetti western film directed by Tonino Valerii. The film stars Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma, and features a musical score by..

9.The Tin Star

Henry Fonda, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1957

Directed by: Anthony Mann

The Tin Star was first a short story then a 1957 American western film directed by Anthony Mann and starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins, in one of Perkins’ first roles. The film became one of..

8.High Noon

Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper

Released: 1952

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper. In nearly real time, the film tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by..

7.Escape from New York

Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell

Released: 1981

Directed by: John Carpenter

Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in a then near-future 1997 in a distopian United States that..

6.Sabata

Lee Van Cleef, Ignazio Spalla

Released: 1969

Directed by: Gianfranco Parolini

Sabata, is a 1969 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Gianfranco Parolini. It is the first film in The Sabata Trilogy by Parolini, and stars Lee Van Cleef as the title character. Parolini had..

5.The Bravados

Gregory Peck, Joan Collins

Released: 1958

Directed by: Henry King

The Bravados is a 1958 western film, directed by Henry King starring Gregory Peck and Joan Collins. The CinemaScope film was based on a novel of the same name written by Frank O’Rourke.

4.The Big Gundown

Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian

Released: 1966

Directed by: Sergio Sollima

The Big Gundown is a 1966 spaghetti western, written by long-time Sergio Leone collaborator Sergio Donati and directed by Sergio Sollima. The film stars Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian. It was.

3.Death Rides a Horse

Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law

Released: 1967

Directed by: Giulio Petroni

This film is a 1967 Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni, written by Luciano Vincenzoni, and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.

2.For a Few Dollars More

Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1965

Directed by: Sergio Leone

For a Few Dollars More is a 1965 Italian spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Gian Maria Volonté. German actor Klaus Kinski also plays a.

And in the first place cliffs of films is the legendary film from 1966

1.The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966

Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach

Released: 1966

Directed by: Sergio Leone

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age .

 

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