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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  28 September 1984 (Italy)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 203,320 users  
Reviews: 487 user | 109 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.



(novel), (screenplay), 7 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #72 | Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


As boys, they said they would die for each other. As men, they did. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




| |

Release Date:

28 September 1984 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Érase una vez en América  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)


$5,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (re-cut) | (extended director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the baby-switching scene, the music heard is "La gazza ladra" ("The Thieving Magpie"), a musical overture by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. See more »


One of the cars parked outside Secretary Bailey's (Max's) mansion in 1968 was a silver 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. See more »


[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

Joey Faye is credited as the "adorable old man." See more »


References Out of the Past (1947) See more »


Music by Ennio Morricone
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Leone's "Godfather" Version, And About As Good
26 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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 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.

105 of 174 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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