Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Epic tale of a group of Jewish gangsters in New York, from childhood, through their glory years during prohibition, and their meeting again 35 years later. Runtime: 229 mins Release Date: 31 May 1984
Make sure you get the director's cut! (by philip_vanderveken)
Many people compare "Once Upon a Time in America" with "The Godfather". In my opinion these two movies can't be compared. Both are masterpieces in their own way, but each of them has a different style. You don't compare a Picasso to Michelangelo's Sixteen Chapel either, do you?What is it that makes this movie a masterpiece? Well, first of all there is the director. Sergio Leone is a real master when it comes to creating a special atmosphere, full of mystery, surprises and drama... He's one of the few directors who understands the art of cutting a movie in <more>
such a way that you stay focused until the end. The way the movie was cut is also the reason why a lot of Americans don't think this movie is very special. There are three versions, but only the European version is how the director imagined it to be. He didn't want his movie to be shown in chronological order 1910's - 1930's - 1960's , but wanted to mix these three periods of time. The studio cut the movie in chronological order, loosing a lot of its originality and therefor getting a lot of bad critics. If you want to see this film the way Sergio Leone saw it, you have to make sure you get the director's cut. The second reason why this movie is so great is the music. Ennio Morricone, who is seen as the greatest writer of film music ever, did an excellent job. Together with the images, the music speaks for itself in this movie. From time to time there isn't said a word, but the music and the images on their own tell the story. He understood perfectly what Sergio Leone wanted and composed most of the music even before the movie was shot.Last but not least there is also the acting and the script. The actors all did an excellent job. But what else can you expect from actors like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci... They helped making this movie as great as it is by putting there best effort in it. The script helped them with it. It took twelve years to complete, but it hasn't left any detail untouched. The writers really thought of everything when creating it.I can really recommend this movie to everyone, but especially to people who like the gangster genre. When you want to see the movie, you better be sure that you will have the time for it. This isn't a movie that is finished after 90 minutes. You'll have to be able to stay focused during 3 hours and 47 minutes, which will certainly not be easy during the first 20 to 30 minutes. Some scenes at the beginning only make sense when you have seen the end of the movie. But when you are able to stay focused, you'll find this one of the best movies you've ever seen. I certainly did and I rewarded it with a well deserved 10/10.
This movie was a masterpiece. It ranks as one of the very best in film history, if not the best. At Cannes people yelled and screamed, couldn't believe just how good it was. The profound atrocity was a combination of two completely brainless acts, the first being Zack Stienberg's hatchet job for US release, supposedly requested by either Warner Bros or The Ladd Company one blames the other now and the second was the lack of anyone and everyone to post anything in this great film for Academy Award consideration, of which probably as many as 14 nominations and 4 sure- fire Oscars <more>
went down the toilet. These atrocities were perpretrated, I believe, with two reasons in mind, the first to preserve the dim hope of "The Killing Fields" Daly & Semel's baby of garnering any awards... and second, to try to boost up the non- foreign chances. Warner Bros knew just how good it was, that goes without saying. The problem was... they already had their share of cash cows and they wanted a real star- studded showpiece to point at. The small minds already had their showpiece but, alas, it was an "eye- tallyan" flick with a producer/director who didn't communicate well. The hatchet job was carefully planned, I believe... the so- called "sneak preview" was done in Canada and not well received, probably due to the fact that the sound system was over- amped and the film 'broke' 3 or 4 times during the showing, what a farce! The awards snub started with the GGs and carried right thru. What a myriad of stupid and utterly pointless decisions! Must have literally tore Leone's heart out when he learned what they had done. Morricone's score was a sure- thing Oscar, no question about it. DeNiro and maybe even Woods would have fought it out for best actor, Tuesday Weld as supporting actress, any one of 4 or 5 other supporting actors & actresses, most notably William Forsythe, cinematography, film editing, the list goes on & on... best picture...Amadeus???? give me a break!! Just what in the hell were they thinking? Saw it in a theater 20 years ago and then again on TV about 1998 and finally in its correct format on DVD about two years ago and again last week at a friend's house. Stirred up all those angry thoughts all over again... sorry about that, getting' old & crotchety.
A Profound Expression of Truth Regarding Friendship andBetrayal (by RobertCartland)
This film is a profound expression of truth regarding friendship and betrayal. Noodles, played by Robert De Niro and Scott Tiler during childhood , is a simple man and a thug with one credo: you can battle the entire world but you never betray a friend. During the course of this film we experience various pieces of Noodles's life, from childhood, through young adulthood and old age. We learn what happens to his friends, his foes and the love of his life, Deborah. The time span considered is long, including Noodles's childhood shortly after the turn of the century, through the <more>
prohibition era, and finally the 1960's.The film is about relationships; the many years Noodles spends away from his friends receive only a cursory mention. The film, like life and memories, unfolds slowly and reflectively. Sergio Leone's cuts are long and each scene is beautifully amplified my Ennio Morricone's haunting score. The story is not told chronologically. Instead, the chapters of the story are slowly revealed like pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle. Each delicious piece might make us laugh, or cry, or smile, or feel shock. But, as each piece falls into place, a mystery unfolds. When the final piece is revealed, the true essence of the story becomes clear and a sad and beautiful tapestry comes into view.This film is a true masterpiece, expressing a profound statement about friendship and betrayal, with fantastic acting, writing, directing and music. There is a shortened, two-and-a-half-hour version of the film released that is a disaster. It is like trying to understand a jigsaw puzzle with half of the pieces missing. The original four-hour film can be viewed and enjoyed several times and each time the viewer will see something new.
Why I liked this film more than Coppola's "The Godfather" (by JuguAbraham)
Not many realize that Sergio Leone was offered the chance to direct Puzo's "The Godfather" but opted to make "Once upon a time in America." They say he regretted this decision later in life--but it would be pertinent why someone like Leone would have made such a decision. Any Leone fan would know the importance the director gives to music, structure of the story, the importance of money and how it corrupts many values. All these elements are underlined in this gangster film. In Coppola's work, the story afforded more importance to social details, character details <more>
and fabulous camera-work. Both works are monumental--but I preferred Leone's work, truncated to less than 4 hours than his original cut of 6 hours.The music. Leone's favorite Ennio Morricone provided one of the finest film music for this film and he won awards for this film as he had won praise for Leone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and a host of other spaghetti westerns by Leone. But the real contributor of music was a Romanian flute player called Georghe Zamfir who plays the brilliant "Pan's song" just as Zamfir played the same tune equally effectively in Australian Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock" made 9 years before Leone's film. Weir and Leone both know their music and both need to be complimented for picking up this obscure Romanian to enhance their films. Leone's cinema does not limit to brilliance of music--he uses sound to give effects that surpass the camera eye. The ringing telephone--a telephone ring that persists before the number dial moves on the instrument--provided a stamp of Leone that no viewer will easily forget--and no director had accomplished so effectively. Of course, the telephone call was so central to the film's plot. If the telephone was not enough, the sound of the lift moving up without a passenger plays another aural reminder of Leone's cleverness behind the camera.The structure. Leone's screenplay of switching from the present to the past and vice versa increases the entertainment value. Coppola's work was linear and less demanding of the viewer. In many ways Leone's work comes very close to the Coppola's third "Godfather" film--his least appreciated Godfather film, which mixes pathos, irony and closure to intrigues. Leone's film is many ways quite philosophical as was Coppola's "Godfather III"--far removed from the brutal and power-hungry Godfathers I and II. Leone was able to add a dash of comedy--scenes with antics of the Artful Dodger in Carol Reed's "Oliver!" are copied in the sequences of the early years. Leone's comedy can span from a simple act of hungry boy eating a cream pastry that he had bought to impress his love interest to a young girl taunting her boy lover that "his mother is calling" when his male friend whistles. Coppola's cinema rarely dealt with comedy, unless it was a precursor to tragedy. Several sequences where Leone switches time--the eyes of the protagonist changing from the old to the young man, the appearance of the protagonist in the railway station, and the Frisbee hitting the protagonist as he walks the lonely cold street--makes the film more exciting and colorful. The long film is suddenly less boring as it entertains you while unfolding the saga. The switching of the female child with the male, the corruption among the law enforcers, and the obvious dwarfing of the female characters against the male parts for Leone appears more pronounced than in Coppola, because the intent is to underline the weakness of male folly at the height of their power. The film is Leone's essay on American's interest in getting rich and powerful at the cost of simple values of honor and friendship. At the end the director emphasizes the importance of honor and friendship even among gangsters and even women who often ultimately seek the rich guy to live with rather than the true lover. The effect of De Niro's final laugh at the camera can be interpreted in several ways. Who is he laughing at? The camera? The audience? The irony of his life? Is the chase for money worth it? It reminds me of Richard Burton's character, a vicious bank robber in the final shot of the British film "Villain" 1971 turns around at the camera and shouts "Who do you think you are looking at?"Leone could not have made "Godfather I or II", but he could have dealt with "Godfather III". And Coppola could never have made "Once upon a time in America". Leone's decision to change the name of the film from the novel's name "The Hoods" gives an indication of where the director is leading the audience.The more you see the film you realize the film is a robust one that will stand the test of time because Leone did not want to merely present an interesting saga on screen but entertain intelligently.
I was able to view the directors cut, which to my understanding is different from the version released in America. I had the pleasure of meeting William Forsythe, and it was his insight into the film that lead me to seeing the international version. He wasn't wrong. The film has a great cast of characters, with Forsythe, De Niro, Woods, etc...and the directing is spot on. Sergio Leone does a masterful job of directing, and the music really helps paint a picture, even when the actors aren't speaking. The God Father is one of my favorite mafia films, but Once upon a Time in America has <more>
made it's way up the list as a must see for any fan. Just a great, great story, with great acting and direction.
"Once Upon a Time in America" is an epic of Sergio Leone nearly four hours if I say that these four hours not tired, is a lie, but they do not weigh, after four hours you will remember the movie and do not understand how it is so long, that because Leone is careful to always entertain and let the curious viewer, with magnificent scenery, mounting incredible scenes, perfect screen elements, great costumes and sensational makeup, visually is impeccable, and Sergio Leone know well use the soundtrack that goes from John Lennon to the 9th Symphony of Beethoven, plus the original <more>
score composed by the legendary ennio Morricone. With good performances, nothing to surprise, the film tells the story of five boys who go this street robbers the main owner refueling and liquor command during the dry law, and are extremely sought after for various dubious natures services, this story has a strong emotional side, Sergio Leone abuses Flashbacks, and zoom in and out every scene as if you were recording one of his legendary Western movies, the only negative point here is to the script, even managing to tell a good story and managed to make a good connection between past and future through timelines out of chronology, it has some holes, and even with almost four hours, the film clearly had cut scenes, with characters that disappear and appear out of nowhere, and story lines that are beyond the context of the film. But overall, "Once Upon a Time in America" it is a great movie, a hot story to see, and full of stylistic features, in addition to being a work of Sergio Leone, author of the spectacular trilogy of dollars.
Leone's "Godfather" Version, And About As Good (by ccthemovieman-1)
This Godfather-type film was done by Sergio Leone, of spaghetti-western fame, so you know you will see and experience several of his trademarks. Namely: 1 a lot of facial closeups; 2 some slow-motion or slow-moving dramatic scenes; 3 good overall photography and 4 a unique soundtrack.The period sets here are magnificent. You get a real feel of the time, whether it's 1910, 1933 or 1967. The colors are awash in blacks, browns and grays and the DVD brings all these out very well, especially considering the film is over 20 years old.Despite some of Leone's slow moments, this is a <more>
fascinating film to watch for the story, too. There are numerous memorable scenes, some of them involving some downright shocking violence, even for today's movies. However, the amount of violence is less than what you see today.The movie also sports an interesting twist near the end involving the two major characters, played by Robert De Niro and James Woods. The story is not always clear, either, so be prepared to be possibly confused about a few things....at least on the first viewing. Confused or not, this film always is fascinating to view, especially with intense actors such as the two men just mentioned, along with Elizabeth McGovern, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pecsi, Burt Young, Treat Williams and more.The child actors in here take up almost half the movie and are excellent. What an injustice they don't receive any publicity for their acting, especially the kids who played De Niro and Woods as youngsters. One of the girls has become a famous adult actress: Jennifer Connelly. She was 12 years old in this film and was already alluring.This is Godfather-type crime movie that ranks right up there with that famous film, not taking a back seat to it at all.
De Niro and Woods deliver the best performances in a remarkable cast (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Leone's most ambitious epic moves across three separate time periods: the twenties, the thirties and the late sixties It starts in 1933, with the murder of a woman after merciless gangsters have briefly interrogate her while Noodles hides out in an opium den , then returns to the disastrous night of the bloody betrayal, then jumps to Noodles' return to New York in 1968, then shifts back to the early 1920s to their adolescence This display in a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards is used throughout the film, until the climax where all the dissociated parts of the story fall <more>
into place "Once Upon a Time in America" tells the story of five precocious teenagers born in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Noodles Robert DeNiro , Max James Woods , Patsy James Hayden , Cockeye William Forsythe , and Dominic Noah Moazezi , the youngest As kids in 1921 Prohibition New York, they take only superficial interest in minor street crime, spoiling things or stealing from drunks, until they start running their own rackets Noodles is sexually attracted to Deborah Jennifer Connelly/Elizabeth McGovern , the mesmerizing ballet dancer, sister of their loyal friend Fat Moe Larry Rapp , the son of a saloon-keeper But the gang's rivalry with Bugsy James Russo , another street hoodlum, leads to Dominic being fatally wounded and Noodles going to jail for years for taking a bloody revenge in a blind rage When Noodles is released from prison a decade later, Max was there with a car and a hooker Noodles joins his three pals, who have become prosperous by continuing in the crime world including entwining with unions and the strikers, led by their leader Jimmy Conway Treat Williams .The four best friends accept to assault a jeweler in Detroit, for a major mafioso Frankie Minoldi Joe Pesci , and his sidekick Joe Burt Young And at the end of Prohibition in 1933, the top mob criminals find themselves having gathered $1 million In their vacation in Miami, Noodles was highly worried that Max's next plan is a step too dangerous to take and too risky The most tragic and moving part of the film is probably the romantic obsessions of Noodles Noodles and Deborah have deep and strong affinity for one another Noodles feels he has the right to Deborah's feelings, but she closed herself to him years ago when he responded Max's call over her own Noodles seem unaware of her decision... Their meeting in 1968 only communicates what could have been In one memorable scene, young Patsy Brian Bloom is awaiting for a young hooker Her price is a fancy frosted cake While awaiting, Patsy attentively observes the cake and recognizes he can scoop some of the white cream without damaging it Tempted by the good taste of the cream, he devours entirely the cake on the staircase and forgets the girl Here we felt the kid's innocence and hesitancy between pastry over sex Friendship, innocence, trust, passion, honor, betrayal, and guilt are the most important basis on which Leone's encircles his masterpiece
Very Good Movie, Not Excellent. (by imagination_machine)
I think this is a very good movie, but certainly not a 10/10 as some of the more recent reviews would have you believe. Perhaps it is a movie that takes multiple viewings to fully appreciate my gut tells me as much , but when it clocks in at ~4 hours, it becomes a difficult proposition to watch it multiple times. You really have to be a true cinephile to dedicate ~8 hours to a movie... any movie! Personally, I consider myself more of a casual.Specifically, I think the quality deteriorates as the movie progresses. The first act is masterful, really amazing; the 2nd act is interesting but <more>
suffers slightly from a lack of direction; and the third act is ponderous and a bit far-fetched almost to the point of feeling heavy-handed. I lost interest slightly as the movie progressed.Not my favourite Sergio Leone movie, but definitely worth a watch at least once for casual movie lovers. However, if you are one of those rare persons with true cinema aspirations then, yes, maybe watching 2-3 times will reap more benefits.