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Encyclopedia > Once Upon A Time In America
Once Upon a Time in America
Directed by Sergio Leone
Produced by Arnon Milchan
Written by Novel:
Harry Grey
Sergio Leone
Piero De Bernardi
Enrico Medioli
Franco Arcalli
Franco Ferrini
Leonardo Benvenuti
Stuart M. Kaminsky
(additional dialogue)
Ernesto Gastaldi
Starring Robert De Niro
James Woods
Elizabeth McGovern
Music by Ennio Morricone
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) Flag of the United States June 1, 1984
Running time Original:
229 mins.
US cut:
139 mins.
Country Flag of the United States United States
Flag of Italy Italy
Budget $20 million (approx.)
Allmovie profile
IMDb profile

Once Upon a Time in America (Italian title C'era una volta in America) is a 1984 crime film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. The story chronicles the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence in New York City's world of organized crime. The film explores themes of childhood friendships, love, loss, greed, violence, broken relationships, and the appearance of mobsters in American society. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (498x755, 65 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Sergio Leone (January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director. ... Arnon Milchan (1945-) is movie producer and businessman. ... Sergio Leone (January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director. ... Franco Ferrini is an Italian screenplay writer born on the 5 January 1944 in La Spezia. ... Robert Mario De Niro, Jr. ... For other persons named James Woods, see James Woods (disambiguation). ... Elizabeth McGovern Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is an American movie and theater actress. ... Ennio Morricone (born November 10, 1928; sometimes also credited as Dan Savio or Leo Nichols) is an Italian composer especially noted for his film scores. ... “WB” redirects here. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... is the 152nd day of the year (153rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the year. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Italy. ... The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States. ... // Events The Walt Disney Company founds Touchstone Pictures to release movies with subject matter deemed inappropriate for the Disney name. ... A crime film, in its most general sense, is a film that deals with crime, criminal justice and the darker side of human nature. ... Sergio Leone (January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director. ... Robert Mario De Niro, Jr. ... For other persons named James Woods, see James Woods (disambiguation). ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... For other uses, see Ghetto (disambiguation). ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... Organized crime or criminal organizations are groups or operations run by criminals, most commonly for the purpose of generating a monetary profit. ... Mobsters is a 1991 crime drama detailing the creation of the National Crime Syndicate. ...

The film premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival in its original running time of 229 minutes (3 hours 49 minutes). However, it was released in the United States in a heavily edited and truncated version almost ninety minutes shorter than the original version released in Europe, against Leone's wishes. The short version eliminates the elaborate flashback structure of the film, instead placing all of the scenes in chronological order. The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... In literature, film, television and other media, a flashback (also called analepsis) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. ...



The film is made up of two extended flashback sequences (in 1922-1923 and 1932-1933, respectively), along with a framing device set in 1968. Summoned back to New York after thirty-five years of hiding in Buffalo, New York, aged Jewish mobster David "Noodles" Aaronson is forced to confront his past as he searches for the mysterious person who tracked him down. The bodies of three of his former friends were moved from a Jewish cemetery, which is dug up to make room for a new building complex, to a crypt in another cemetery. He received an invitation from a strange Secretary of Commerce Christopher Bailey to a party. In order to find the answers as to who sent for him and why, he must look back into his painful boyhood and young adult years. Nickname: Location of Buffalo in New York State Coordinates: , Country State County Erie First Settled 1789 Founded 1801 Incorporated (City) 1832 Government  - Mayor Byron Brown (D) Area  - City 52. ...

The 1922-23 childhood sequence, widely hailed as the greatest of the movie's "sections", shows young Noodles' (Scott Tiler) struggles as a poor street kid in the Jewish ghetto of Brooklyn. His gang consists of Patrick "Patsy" Goldberg (Brian Bloom), Phillip "Cockeye" Stein (Adrian Curran), who plays a small pan pipe throughout the film, and little Dominic (Noah Mozelli). They nominally work for local hoodlum Bugsy (James Russo), who has a gang of his own. The scenes deal with Noodles and his gang as they first meet Max Bercovitz (Rusty Jacobs) and become an independent operation under his and Noodles' leadership, the establishment of the gang funds (the suitcase in the train station locker which later becomes a crucial plot piece), and Noodles' fruitless flirtation with Deborah Gelly (Jennifer Connelly), a local girl who aspires to be a dancer and actress. The sequence ultimately ends in tragedy as Bugsy, furious over the boys' becoming independent of him, shoots Dominic in front of his friends. Noodles retaliates by stabbing Bugsy to death with a switchblade, along with a police officer who intervenes, and he is sent to jail for nearly nine years. Max, now in charge with Noodles' absence, is left alone on the outside with the group. Pan pipes (also known as the panflute or the syrinx or quills) is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the stopped pipe, consisting usually of ten or more pipes of gradually increasing length. ... James Vincent Russo (born April 23, 1953) is an American film and television actor. ... Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970) is an Academy Award-winning American film actress and former child model. ...

Now a young man, Noodles is released from jail in 1932 (played now by De Niro) and quickly becomes reacquainted with his old gang: Max (James Woods), Patsy (James Hayden) and Cockeye (William Forsythe), who are now major players in the bootlegging industry during the waning days of Prohibition. After briefly reuniting with other acquaintances (Deborah - Elizabeth McGovern), Deborah's brother Fat Moe (Larry Rapp), who runs the speakeasy, and Peggy (Amy Ryder) - Patsy's girlfriend - the gang is recruited by the Minaldi brothers to steal a shipment of diamonds from an insurance dealer and deliver them to Joe. During the robbery, we are introduced to Carol (Tuesday Weld), the jeweler's secretary, who is later to become Max's girlfriend; she's established as a masochist, and Noodles rapes her in this scene. During an exchange at an abandoned dockyard, Joe Minaldi (Young) and his henchmen are gunned down in a surprise hit by the gang; Frankie (Pesci) has arranged the hit to eliminate Joe. Noodles expresses his misgivings at working for the mob, but ultimately drops the subject. Rum-running is the business of smuggling or transporting of alcoholic beverages illegally, usually to circumvent taxation or prohibition. ... The term Prohibition, also known as A Dry Law, refers to a law in a certain country by which the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted or illegal. ... Elizabeth McGovern Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is an American movie and theater actress. ... Tuesday Weld, born August 27, 1943, is an American film actress. ...

The gang quickly becomes more deeply involved in Mafia matters, including directly intervening in a steel workers' strike on the side of union boss Jimmy Conway O'Donnell (Treat Williams), protecting him against a steel tycoon and his hired thugs, and ultimately destroying the latter. The crew also deals with the corrupt Police Chief Aiello (Danny Aiello), who is being paid off by the steel company, by switching the Chief's newborn son in the hospital with several others. Not long after, Carol becomes reacquainted with the gang and falls in love with Max; Noodles goes on a extravagant date with Deborah and, after being rejected by her, rapes her in the backseat of their limousine. After this, Max drives the gang in even deeper with the Mafia, union, and politics. Max is very willing and eager to advance his gang's position, but Noodles still expresses deep misgivings about what they are doing. After Prohibition is repealed in 1933, Noodles balks when Max suggests that they launch a robbery of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, realizing that it would be a suicidal gesture. Noodles is convinced by Carol to tip off the police about a planned liquor run. After an anonymous phone call, Max, Patsy, and Cockeye are all killed in a shootout with the police. Noodles' girlfriend Eve is killed by enraged gangsters over his betrayal, and Fat Moe is nearly beaten to death under interrogation. Having hiding in an opium den, Noodles barely escapes his pursuers and makes his way to the gang's money hoard, which they all agreed as boys belongs to all of them. However, he is shocked to discover the money is missing, and he is forced to flee to Buffalo and live as Robert Williams. Treat Williams (born December 1, 1951) is an American film, stage and television actor. ... Danny Aiello Daniel Louis Aiello, Jr. ... Federal Reserve Districts The United States Federal Reserve System consists of twelve Federal Reserve Banks, each responsible for a particular district, and some with branches. ...

In the 1968 sequences, Noodles learns from an elderly Carol that Deborah has become a famous actress. Upon meeting with her after a play, he reconciles with her over the rape that ended their relationship, and she confesses to him that she has been living with the mysterious Bailey for years. He is shocked to learn that her grown son David bears a striking resemblance to Max. It is then revealed that Max survived the shootout, faked his death with help from the Syndicate, and had taken on the identity of Secretary Bailey. Bailey is under investigation for claims of corruption, and has hired Noodles to assassinate him - allowing Noodles to obtain his revenge on Max. Not wanting to kill another person, Noodles simply refuses, and Bailey (or at least someone like him) steps into the back of a garbage truck and kills himself. The closing scene involves a flashback to a young Noodles smiling in an opium den in 1933, implying that he is relieved to be free of Max and the criminal life.


The Hoods

The film was inspired by an autobiographical novel called The Hoods, written by Harry Grey (a pseudonym), a former gangster-turned informant whose real name was Harry Goldberg. The novel itself depicts only the first two-thirds of the movie's chronology. The "contemporary" scenes (which many believe to be a prolonged dream/fantasy sequence) were entirely the work of Leone. The plot is otherwise faithful to the original book, though the rape scenes were not present in the novel, and several character names were very different. For other uses, see Alias. ...

Another major difference is that the original novel featured several historical mob figures (mostly in cameos), including Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel, to name a few. Leone edited out these characters because he felt they distracted from the overall storyline. The Mafia (or "Combination" as it is referred to in the book and movie) is represented in the final cut of the film by a brief appearance by the fictional Minaldi Brothers, Frank and Joe, played by Joe Pesci and Burt Young, respectively, and their henchmen. There were also a few references to various real gangster anecdotes sown liberally throughout the film. The character of Noodles is based loosely on Meyer Lansky, and Max on Bugsy Siegel. This is because Max's reactions to Noodles's calling him "crazy" is taken directly from Siegel's real-life reactions to his nickname, and several of the hits and acts of violence were based on photographs of real incidents, such as the hit on Joe Minaldi, which was based on Siegel's death. Frank Costello, born Francesco Castiglia, or Castilla (January 26, 1891 - February 18, 1973) was an American gangster who rose to the top of Americas underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and had political influence like no other La Cosa Nostra boss. ... Meyer Lansky (born Majer Suchowliński, July 4, 1902 – January 15, 1983) was an American gangster who, with Charles Lucky Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. ... Benjamin Bugsy Siegel (Bairush HaLevi Bar Mordechai Dov HaLevi) (February 28, 1906 – June 20, 1947) was an American gangster, who was behind large-scale development of Las Vegas. ... This article is about the criminal society. ... Joseph Frank Joe Pesci ( Born February 9, 1943 ) is an Academy Award-winning American actor, comedian and singer. ... Burt Young (born April 30, 1940 in Queens, New York, USA) is an American actor, painter and author. ... Meyer Lansky (born Majer Suchowliński, July 4, 1902 – January 15, 1983) was an American gangster who, with Charles Lucky Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. ... Benjamin Bugsy Siegel (Bairush HaLevi Bar Mordechai Dov HaLevi) (February 28, 1906 – June 20, 1947) was an American gangster, who was behind large-scale development of Las Vegas. ...

DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) , the famous scene used on the promotional material for the film

Leone had wanted to make the film since before The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but he had great difficulty in securing the rights to the novel, and in arranging a meeting with its reclusive author. He turned down an offer from Paramount Pictures to direct The Godfather in order to pursue his pet project. Grey finally met with Leone several times in the '60s and '70s, and was a fan of Leone's Westerns; before his death in 1982, he ultimately agreed to the adaptation. Part of the reason why the production took so long was that another producer had the rights to the novel and refused to relinquish them until the late 1970s. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... A view of part of DUMBO with Manhattan in the distance Newly built apartment tower DuMBo (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is the popular name of a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. ... The Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan (at Canal Street) with Brooklyn (at Flatbush Avenue Extension). ... For the album by Frankee, see The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (Frankee album). ... Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. ... The Godfather is a 1972 film adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by Mario Puzo, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. ...

Leone considered many actors for the film's various parts. He was particularly enthusiastic about Gérard Depardieu, who offered to learn English with a New York accent if cast as Noodles in the film. Richard Dreyfuss was also an early consideration for Max, and Tom Berenger and Dustin Hoffman were also considered for Max and Noodles. Leone also tried, as he had with A Fistful of Dynamite, to produce the film with a younger director under him. In the early days of the project he courted John Milius, a fan of his who was enthusiastic about the idea; but Milius was working on The Wind and the Lion and the script for Apocalypse Now, and could not commit to the project. Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu, CQ (born 27 December 1948,  ) is an Academy Award-nominated French actor. ... Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an Academy Award-winning American actor. ... Tom Berenger (born May 31, 1949) is an Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning American actor known mainly for his roles in action films. ... Dustin Lee Hoffman (born August 8, 1937) is a two-time Academy Award-winning, BAFTA-winning, and five-time Golden Globe-winning American method actor. ... A Fistful of Dynamite is a 1971 film by Sergio Leone (original Italian title: Giù la testa; also known as Duck, You Sucker and Once Upon a Time … The Revolution). ... John Milius (born April 11, 1944 in St. ... The Wind and the Lion is a 1975 adventure film. ... Apocalypse Now is a 1979 Academy Award and Golden Globe winning American film set during the Vietnam War. ...

For the film's visual appearance Leone used as references the paintings of such artists as Reginald Marsh, Edward Hopper, and Norman Rockwell, as well as (for the 1922 sequences) the photographs of Jacob Riis. The iconic scene of the Manhattan Bridge can be viewed from Google Maps at 44 Washington St, Brooklyn, NY. F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous novel The Great Gatsby also influenced the characterization of Noodles (or at least his relationship with Deborah). Reginald Marsh (14 March 1898 - 3 July 1954) was an American painter most notable for his detailed depictions of life in New York City in the 1920s. ... Nighthawks. ... Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was a 20th century American painter. ... Jacob Riis in 1906 Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 - May 26, 1914), a Danish-American muckraker journalist, photographer, and social reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark. ... Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American Jazz Age author of novels and short stories. ... This article is about the novel. ...

"Opium Theory"

The movie begins and ends in 1933, with Noodles hiding out in an opium den from Syndicate hitmen. Since the last shot of the movie is of Noodles in a smiling, opium-soaked high, some (as mentioned above) interpret the film to have been a drug-induced fantasy or dream, with Noodles remembering his past and envisioning the future. In his commentary for the DVD, film historian and critic Richard Schickel states that opium users often report vivid dreams and that these visions have a tendency to explore the user's past and future. On the documentary "A Fistful of Sergio Leone", it is reported that Leone himself hinted at this theory as a possibility to a cinemagoer who had just seen the movie. This article is about the association term. ...

When considering the reality of the ending, one must note that the 1968 sequences include several anachronisms - music from The Beatles (see below), television, and references to the Vietnam War - that did not exist in 1933, and that Noodles would thus not be able to envision such things. Furthermore, it can be argued that to dub the later scenes a dream would remove the entire thematic and psychological point of the film that Leone had intended. Look up Anachronism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The White Album, see The Beatles (album). ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000...

It is believed that the final scene with Noodles leaving the mansion supports the dream hypothesis. The movie begins with a rendition of 'God Bless America' and in the corresponding end scene has people riding in 1930s-era cars singing the same song. Bailey's betrayal in the future can be interpreted as a transference of guilt. Noodles subconsciously blames Bailey for his entry into organized crime and his failed relationship with Deborah, and, in a way, he feels betrayed by Max's burgeoning ambition. Also -- consistently with Leone's greater project of capturing America's spirit -- the inclusion of historical references entails that in the film's fictional universe, such history of America is indeed a 1930s mobster's solipsist pipe dream; this is a way to make a point that contemporary history of America is like some 1930s mobster's pipe dream. [1] Also, the fact that Deborah still seems beautiful and not aged much by time could be a hint for this theory, because she is the love of his life and therefore stays some sort of ageless beauty. Solipsism (Latin: solus, alone + ipse, self) is the philosophical idea that My mind is the only thing that I know exists. ...

Alternate versions

Unfilmed title scene

Originally, the transition from 1933 to 1968 was to be much more elaborate, but finally the scene simply proved to be too difficult. From the original shooting script:

"We hear the roar of the its wheels and the wail of a train's whistle, and the view across the tracks is blocked by the engine, the tender and the cars - car after car laden with Model T's or whatever Ford was turning out in 1933... The train keeps passing, but the cars are no longer laden with 1933 Fords. They've become 1968 models in pink and turquoise and emerald green, announced by a title that fills the screen: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. The train disappears, taking its rattle with it, and the barriers rise. But we are no longer staring out over open countryside. We see instead an endless row of high-rises, a cement City of Oz. Heading the row of cars that face us at the crossing is a 1960 Chevy. The [driver] is in his sixties too... Noodles, forty years later."[citation needed]

Deleted scenes

The original shooting-script, completed in October 1981, was 317 pages in length. At the end of filming, Leone had about 8 to 10 hours worth of footage. With his editor, Nino Baragli, Leone trimmed this down to about almost 6 hours, and he originally wanted to release the film in two movies with three-hour parts. The producers refused (partly due to the commercial and critical failure of Bertolucci's two-part Novecento) and Leone was forced to further shorten the length of his film, resulting in a completed (i.e. scored, dubbed, edited, etc.) film of 229 minutes. Bernardo Bertolucci (born March 16, 1940) is an Italian writer and Academy Award winning film director. ... Movie poster for 1900 1900 (also called Novecento) is a 1976 epic film starring Robert de Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Donald Sutherland, and Burt Lancaster, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. ...

Leone has said that ideally, he would have liked the film to be "between four hours ten minutes and four hours twenty-five minutes" (250 minutes to 265 minutes), and that such a cut would mainly have served to restore scenes developing Noodles' relationships with women.

Important scenes which failed to appear in the 144 minute cut:

  • A brief scene in the 1922 sequences, showing local ganglord Bugsy (James Russo) and his gang being arrested by the police for bootlegging while Noodles and his gang looked on. This would occur right before the gang's meeting with the Capuano Brothers at the harbor. The main importance of this scene would be to establish why Noodles' gang is working with the Capuanos. Dialogue from that scene indicates that Bugsy had been working with them, but since he and his thugs have now been jailed, Noodles and Co. have taken over his old job.
  • Secretary Bailey arguing with an older Jimmy O'Donnell about a pension scam, just before Noodle's climactic meeting with the former.
  • An opium-induced flashback of Noodles and the gang as children.
  • Noodles' first meeting with Eve (Darlanne Fluegel), and many other minor scenes with Eve. In the original shooting script, this occurs after his rape of Deborah (which happens at night, rather than early morning). A very drunk Noodles meets Eve in a speakeasy and goes to bed with her, calling her 'Deborah'.
  • Scenes of Noodles watching Deborah performing a Busby Berkely musical scene at a nightclub, just before their date, as well as scenes from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. (The DVD's picture gallery feature includes an image of Elizabeth McGovern onstage dressed as Cleopatra and holding a snake in one of the play's final scenes.)
  • A scene of Noodles talking to the limousine driver before the date with Deborah. There is clear enmity between the two characters, highlighting the way in which Jewish gangsters are perceived by fellow Jews. The reason that this scene was cut was because producer Arnon Milchan, who played the chauffeur, felt that he should not have had such a noticeable role in the movie, and he did not want people to make a big deal out of his cameo.
  • A long scene involving Police Chief Aiello (Danny Aiello) and his involvement with the strike breakers. (Some of the scene's dialogue was reworked into the brief interview with Aiello on the steps of the police station in the final version.) As a follow-up to this, a scene where the gang plans the famous baby-snatching scene with crooked politician Sharkey (Robert Harper) was also shot. Noodles wants to kill Aiello, but is convinced not to by Max and Sharkey.
  • A brief scene during Noodles, Max, Carol, and Eve's vacation to Florida, where a lifeguard, having heard of the repeal of Prohibition, digs up a bottle of liquor from the beach and drinks it thirstily.
  • An older Carol (Tuesday Weld) revealing to Noodles that Max had inherited syphilis from his deceased father, who went mad and died in a mental asylum. This was to explain his somewhat crazy plans of robbery and his violent, unpredictable outbursts of rage. In the original shooting script, this scene (set between the beach scene described above, and Carol and Noodles' scene outside the Federal Reserve) also has Carol revealing the details of Eve's death to Noodles: "Oh, how she waited, but you never showed up... She shut the windows and locked the door, and nobody bothered to check. She was in there all the time, with her little capsules...there was nobody at the funeral but me." (The latter part of this scene may never have even been filmed, since Eve's death, which consists of her getting murdered in the film's opening, is depicted very differently in the final film.)

These scenes were said to be all shot, and it is unknown if they still exist. James Vincent Russo (born April 23, 1953) is an American film and television actor. ... Darlanne Fluegel is an American actress, born 25 November 1958. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Busby Berkeley (November 29, 1895–March 14, 1976), born William Berkeley Enos in Los Angeles, California, was a highly influential Hollywood movie director and musical choreographer. ... Anthony and Cleopatra, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Arnon Milchan (1945-) is movie producer and businessman. ... Danny Aiello Daniel Louis Aiello, Jr. ... Tuesday Weld, born August 27, 1943, is an American film actress. ... Syphilis is a curable sexually transmitted disease caused by the Treponema pallidum spirochete. ...

Film versions

Similarly, many people (including film critic Richard Schickel, who records the film's DVD commentary) assume that the flying disc scene was part of a longer sequence. [2] While the first shooting script placed much more emphasis on the union subplot, this was very heavily trimmed in the revised version. Thus, there are not nearly as many union-related deleted scenes as many people believe. Note: PAL editions of the DVD have a running time of 219 minutes (and 48 seconds). This is due entirely to PAL speed-up. One persistent change involved the young Noodles spying on a nude young Deborah, given that Jennifer Connelly was 14 years old at the time of filming; however, a woman named Margherita Pace was credited as young Connelly's body double [3]. Frisbee redirects here. ... The Lawrence textile strike (1912), with soldiers surrounding peaceful demonstrators A trade union or labor union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages, hours, and working conditions, forming a cartel of labour. ... For other uses, see PAL (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see PAL (disambiguation). ... Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970) is an Academy Award-winning American film actress and former child model. ...

There are three abridged versions of the film, none of which are currently available:

  • The 227 minute version - When the 'complete' film was shown in America, it still had to be trimmed slightly to secure an 'R' rating. Cuts were made to the two rape scenes, and some of the violence at the beginning.
  • A network television version of three hours (without commercials) was briefly available in the early-to-mid-1990s, which retained the film's non-chronological order but still left out several key scenes. This version has recently turned up in viewings of the film for the AMC TV channel.
  • The infamous 144 minute American version was the version given wide release in America. Heavily cut by the Ladd Company against Leone's wishes, the film's story was rearranged in chronological order, which made no sense and had the effect of making it even more difficult to follow. Most of the major cuts involved the childhood sequences, making the 1933 sections the most prominent part of the film. Noodles' 1968 meeting with Deborah was excised, and the scene with "Secretary Bailey" ended with him shooting himself (albeit offscreen), rather than the famous garbage truck conclusion of the 229-minute version. This version flopped in the US and many American critics, who knew about Leone's original cut, attacked the short version viciously. Some critics compared shortening the film to shortening Richard Wagner's operas (some of which run over 5 hours), saying that works of art that are meant to be long should be given the respect they deserve. However, the original 229-minute cut has been restored and the shortened version, while briefly on VHS in the 1980s, is in little demand and almost impossible to find.

In the Soviet Union, the film was theatrically shown in the late 1980s, along with other Hollywood blockbusters such as the two King Kong movies. The story was rearranged in chronological order and the movie was split in two parts, one containing all childhood scenes and the other for adulthood scenes. The parts were run as two separate movies.[4] Except the rearrangement, no major deletions were made, and the film was rated as "16+" by the Goskino. This version has never made it on the Russian TV; the full PAL version was shown and is available on DVD. AMC was originally a basic cable channel that aired classic movies, largely pre-1950s, in a commercial-free, generally unedited format. ... Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or music dramas as they were later called). ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... Goskino or USSR State Committee for Cinematography (Госкино, Государственный комитет по кинематографии СССР, Gosudarstvenyy komitet po kinematografii SSSR) was the supreme government organ in charge of cinematography of the Soviet Union It was absorbed by the USSR Ministry of Culture in 1953, it became an independent organization again in 1963. ...

DVD releases

The film was released in the late '90s on a poor quality, pan-and-scan release with no special features aside from the original trailer and brief cast listing. The two-disc special edition was released on DVD in June 2003 and was a bestseller on Amazon.com for several weeks. The result has been hailed as having excellent image quality, partly due to the high bitrate, which places the release on a level with most superbit DVDs. However, it has been criticized for its limited extras (a Richard Schnickel commentary, photo gallery and a twenty-minute excerpt from a Leone documentary) and the fact that, being spread out on two double-layer disks, disc one ends very abruptly, during an action sequence. More importantly, it has also been strongly criticized for not including the original mono soundtrack. According to those who were in attendance, this is how the film ran at its Cannes premiere; the first half of the film ended as it does on DVD. The VHS two-tape edition of the film cuts after Noodles drove the car into the river. After this, an end of part 1 title card appeared on screen. The film’s 'Intermission' does not occur until 40 minutes into disc two, so it is argued that placing the break later would have meant compressing disc one far more heavily. Amazon. ... In telecommunications and computing, bitrate (sometimes written bit rate, data rate or as a variable Rbit) is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time. ... Superbit was a brand of premium DVD-Video versions of motion pictures from Columbia TriStar Home Video, a division of Sony. ... An intermission or interval is a break between two performances or sessions, in events such as a theatrical play, opera or musical concert. ...

According to a 2007 interview with Raeffala Leone, Leone's daughter, she and the surviving producers are planning to release her father's original four and a half hour director's cut of the film sometime in late 2008/2009. A directors cut is a specially edited version of a film, and less often TV series, music video, commercials or video games, that is supposed to represent the directors own approved edit. ...


The music was composed by Leone's long-time collaborator, Ennio Morricone. Due to the film's unusually long gestation, Morricone had finished composing most of the soundtrack before many scenes had even been filmed. Some of Morricone's pieces were actually played on set as filming took place (a technique that Leone had used for Once Upon a Time in the West. "Deborah's Theme", considered by many to be the best piece of this soundtrack, was in fact originally written for another film in the 1970s but rejected; Morricone presented the piece to Leone, who was initially reluctant, considering it too similar to Morricone's main title for Once Upon a Time in the West. Ennio Morricone (born November 10, 1928; sometimes also credited as Dan Savio or Leo Nichols) is an Italian composer especially noted for his film scores. ... Gestation is the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside a female viviparous animal. ... The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ... The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. ...

Track listing:

  1. Once Upon a Time in America
  2. Poverty
  3. Deborah's Theme
  4. Childhood Memories
  5. Amapola
  6. Friends
  7. Prohibition Dirge
  8. Cockeye's Song
  9. Amapola, Pt. 2
  10. Childhood Poverty
  11. Photographic Memories
  12. Friends
  13. Friendship & Love
  14. Speakeasy
  15. Deborah's Theme-Amapola
  16. Suite from Once Upon a Time in America (Includes Amapola) [#]
  17. Poverty [Temp. Version][#]
  18. Unused Theme [#]
  19. Unused Theme [Version 2][#]

Besides the original music, the movie also used several pieces of "found" music, including:

  • "God Bless America" (written by Irving Berlin, performed by Kate Smith - 1943) - Plays over the opening credits from a radio in Eve's bedroom. (Incidentally, the recording of the song used was not sung until 1943, for the film This is the Army, so its use is a slight anachronism on Leone's part.)
  • "Yesterday" (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney - 1965) - A muzak version of this piece plays when Noodles first returns to New York in 1968, examining himself in a train station mirror. An instrumental version of the song also plays briefly during the dialogue scene between Noodles and "Bailey" towards the end of the film.
  • "Amapola" (written by Joseph LaCalle (American lyrics by Albert Gamse) - 1923) - Originally an opera piece, several instrumental versions of this song were played during the film; a jazzy version which played on the gramophone danced to by young Deborah in 1922; a similar version played by Fat Moe's jazz band in the speakeasy in 1932; and a string version, during Noodles' date with Deborah. (It has been suggested that Leone used this piece after seeing a version of it in the film Carnal Knowledge, though this has not been confirmed.) Both versions are available on the soundtrack.
  • "The Thieving Magpie (Overture)" (Gioacchino Rossini - 1817) - Used during the baby-switching scene in the hospital.
  • "Summertime" (George Gershwin - 1935) - Played by a jazz band during the beach scene after the beachgoers receive word of Prohibition's repeal. (This song post-dates the events of the film by two/three years, so like the version of "God Bless America" used in the film's opening, it's a slight but understandable anachronism.)
  • "Night and Day" (written and sung by Cole Porter - 1932) - Plays during Secretary Bailey's party in 1968.

Once Upon a Time in America is widely regarded as Morricone's best work, but was disqualified, on a technicality, from Oscar consideration.[5] In the original American print, Morricone's name was accidentally left off of the opening credits by the producers. God Bless America is an American patriotic song originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938. ... Irving Berlin (May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was a Russian-born naturalized American composer and lyricist, and one of the most prolific American songwriters in history. ... Kathryn Elizabeth Kate Smith (May 1, 1907 – June 17, 1986) was an American singer, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlins God Bless America. Smith had a long career in show business, with a radio, TV and recording career that spanned five decades, reaching its most-remembered zenith... This Is the Army is a 1943 American motion picture produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner, and directed by Michael Curtiz. ... Music sample Yesterday Problems? See media help. ... John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980), (born John Winston Lennon, known as John Ono Lennon) was an iconic English 20th century rock and roll songwriter and singer, best known as the founding member of The Beatles. ... Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, poet, entrepreneur, painter, record producer, film producer, and animal-rights activist. ... Muzak Holdings LLC is a company, founded in 1934, that is best known for distribution of music to retail stores and other companies. ... Amapola is a popular song, written by Joseph LaCalle with English language lyrics by Albert Gamse. ... Joseph M. LaCalle (1860 - June 11, 1937) was a clarinetist, composer, conductor and music critic. ... DVD cover Carnal Knowledge is a 1971 American drama film. ... La gazza ladra, otherwise known as The Thieving Magpie, is an opera and overture by Gioacchino Rossini. ... Portrait Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (February 29, 1792 – November 13, 1868)[1] was an Italian musical composer who wrote more than 30 operas as well as sacred music and chamber music. ... Summertime is the name of an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. ... Gershwin redirects here. ... Night and Day is a song written by Cole Porter for the 1932 musical play The Gay Divorce. ... Cole Albert Porter (June 9, 1891 – October 15, 1964) was an American composer and songwriter from Peru, Indiana. ...

Awards and Nominations

British Academy of Film and Television Arts BAFTA Award The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is a British organisation that hosts annual awards shows for film, television, childrens film and television, and interactive media. ...

  • Best Costume Design- Gabriella Pescucci "Won"
  • Best Score- Ennio Morricone "Won"
  • Best Director- Sergio Leone
  • Best Supporting Actress- Tuesday Weld

Golden Globes The Golden Globe Awards are American awards for motion pictures and television programs, given out each year during a formal dinner. ...

  • Best Director- Sergio Leone
  • Best Original Score- Ennio Morricone

Los Angeles Films Critics Assocation

  • Best Music- Ennio Morricone

Reception and legacy

The film's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival was an astounding success.[citation needed] Some female audience members were offended by the rape scenes and depiction of women (Leone was often accused of misogyny based on his films' portrayal of women).[citation needed] The film was extremely successful,[citation needed] garnering a fifteen-minute standing ovation from the audience.[citation needed] The uncut European version of the film won rave reviews,[citation needed] and was very successful throughout Europe and abroad.[citation needed] However, several sneak premieres in Canada and the US gained a mixed reception at best (some suspect due to studio tampering). The film was drastically edited, as mentioned above, more for commercial reasons than anything else. Leone, who had turned down an offer to make The Godfather twelve years earlier, was indignant when several American critics compared the butchered version of his film to "a Jewish Godfather". The 144-minute version was a huge flop and American critics destroyed it. Roger Ebert wrote in his 1984 review that the uncut version was "an epic poem of violence and greed" but described the American theatrical version as a "travesty".[6] The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... In Eva Prima Pandora, by Jean Cousin (Louvre Museum), Eve, the equivalent of Pandora embodies Original Sin Misogyny (pronounced ) is hatred or strong prejudice against women; an antonym of philogyny. ... Roger Joseph Ebert (born June 18, 1942) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic. ...

The uncut version of the film gained widespread critical acclaim and a large following.[citation needed] James Woods, who considers Once Upon a Time in America Leone's finest work, mentions in the DVD documentary that one critic dubbed the film the worst of 1984, only to see the original cut years later and call it the best of the 1980s. Ebert, in his review of Brian DePalma's The Untouchables, called the original uncut version of Once Upon a Time in America the best film depicting the Prohibition era.[7] Sight and Sound magazine placed it among the ten best films of the last 25 years when it attempted to do a poll on recent films.[citation needed] It also ranks among the top 250 films as voted by the Internet Movie Database users[8]. For other persons named James Woods, see James Woods (disambiguation). ... Brian De Palma (born September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American film director. ... The Untouchables is a 1987 film, directed by Brian De Palma, based on the 1959 ABC television series, which, in turn, was based on Eliot Nesss autobiographical account of his efforts to bring Al Capone to justice. ... The term Prohibition, also known as A Dry Law, refers to a law in a certain country by which the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted or illegal. ... Sight and Sound is a British monthly magazine about film. ... For the in-memory database management system, see In-memory database. ...


  1. ^ Once Upon a Time in America commentary with film historian Richard Schikel
  2. ^ Once Upon a Time in America DVD audio commentary
  3. ^ Margherita Pace
  4. ^ Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone Documentary
  5. ^ Ibid
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (1 January 1984). Once Upon A Time in Ameica (English). Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
  7. ^ Roger Ebert 1987 review of The Untouchables
  8. ^ Top 250 movies as voted by our users

2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini/Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 159th day of the year (160th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

For the in-memory database management system, see In-memory database. ... Sergio Leone (January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director. ... Il Colosso de Rodi (English title: The Colossus of Rhodes) is a 1961 sword and sandal film directed by Sergio Leone. ... A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari in Italy and officially on-screen in the U.S. and UK as simply Fistful of Dollars) is a 1964 film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood. ... For a Few Dollars More (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più) is a 1965 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 supporting role as a secondary villain. ... For the album by Frankee, see The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (Frankee album). ... The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. ... A Fistful of Dynamite is a 1971 film by Sergio Leone (original Italian title: Giù la testa; also known as Duck, You Sucker and Once Upon a Time … The Revolution). ...

  Results from FactBites:
Once Upon A Time In America (719 words)
In our once great America, virginity and chastity were popular virtues, and one could live to old age and never be exposed to the abominations of homosexuality and adultery.
There was a time in this great country when, except for a few certain morally corrupt large cities, the most egregious gamblers hung out in bingo parlors, and anyone who even whispered his or her support for state-sponsored gambling would be run out of town on a rail.
There was also a time in the once noble America when physicians actually made personal visits to the homes of their patients.
Such is the level of cinematic sophistication in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America that all of the miserable things that happen in the picture make you giddy, filling you with the joy that is basking in an artist's command of a medium.
Yet there is some incontrovertible fidelity in the film's machismo to the pre-feminism America it portrays, and it's intriguing, to say the least, that the 1968 sequences consist of several pathetic geezers and one still-luminous Deborah: she seems to have been blessed with the gift of immortality in reimbursement for the evil that men do.
Once Upon a Time in America is a masterpiece of affects.
  More results at FactBites »



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