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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 169,397 users  
Reviews: 466 user | 95 critic

A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

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Title: Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

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Top 250 #77 | Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 21 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Joe
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Richard Bright ...
James Hayden ...
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Eve (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Larry Rapp ...
Richard Foronjy ...
Officer 'Fartface' Whitey (as Richard Foronji)
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Storyline

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. Written by Andrew Welsh <andreww@bnr.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Crime, passion and lust for power - Sergio Leone's explosive saga of gangland America. [Australia Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, sexual content, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

| |

Release Date:

28 September 1984 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Érase una vez en América  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,300,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-cut) | (Director's Cut Extended Edition) ( 2012)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Swedish actor Thommy Berggren he was considered for a role in the movie and met both Sergio Leone and Robert De Niro but due to difficulties in adapting a convincing New York accent he declined. See more »

Goofs

The scenes at the Miami hotel show the sun setting over the water. Miami is on the Atlantic coast, so the sun should set over land. The scene was shot at St. Petersburg beach, on the Gulf coast. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[In 1933, two goons rudely question a young woman]
Beefy: Where is he? Where's he hiding?
Eve: I don't know... I've been looking for him since yesterday.
[second goon slaps her harshly; she falls onto the bed]
Beefy: I'm gonna ask you for the last time: Where is he?
Eve: I don't know... What are you gonna do to him?
[Two shots are heard]
Beefy: [to his partner] Stay here in case that rat shows up...
See more »

Crazy Credits

For his cameo, Joey Faye is listed in the credits as playing the "adorable old man." See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Book of Eli (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless America
Music by Irving Berlin
Music by Irving Berlin Music Corporation
Performed by Kate Smith
Courtesy of RCA Record
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
An operatic epic
6 January 2002 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Once Upon a Time in America, which bookends Once Upon a Time in the West as director Sergio Leone's best work, is a powerhouse of a movie. A gangster epic told in a very different style than the standard of the genre, The Godfather, it is in some ways (at least to this viewer) even more emotionally compelling. Although the movie was sabotaged upon release by an edited studio version eliminating about 40% of its original length, the version now available for rental is thankfully the nearly 4 hour version intended by Leone. The story is at essence a basic one about friendship among thieves, telling the story of a group of Jewish kids in New York near the turn of the century who grow up to become powerful and ruthless mobsters, while maintaining (or trying to) their bond with one another. As was most famously done in the taxi scene between Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, the movie again makes the point that bad people can have good aspects to them, such as loyalty, devotion, and even love. I think this movie includes one of Deniro's best roles, and far and away James Woods best film work. The score, by arguably the greatest movie composer of all time, Ennio Morricone, is incredibly haunting in its beauty and sadness (with no fewer than three separate themes that are breathtakingly beautiful). The non-chronological manner in which the story is told results in a wonderfully effective narrative device: the movie begins and ends with the same scene. The first time you see the scene, it is a frantic jumble, without meaning or context, and you do not know why it is so important. When the scene recurs at the end of the film, everything has become clear, and the scene has an incredible poignancy and sadness to it: although it occurs in the middle of events chronologically, you realize that, in a real sense, life stopped at this point for one of the film's main characters. There is no other event that matters anymore to him. This is not a simple movie, and it merits repeated viewings. Indeed, in my view one cannot fully appreciate the greatness of the film until the second viewing, when the full story is known, and the events of the film resonate with knowledge of where they ultimately, and tragically, lead.


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