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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R | | Crime, Drama | 1 June 1984 (USA)
2:40 | Trailer

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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) | 6 more credits »
778 ( 85)
Top Rated Movies #67 | 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


Sergio Leone's three-hour, forty-minute epic masterpiece starring Robert de Niro. [Australia Theatrical] 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:

1 June 1984 (USA)  »

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?


Jodie Foster and Daryl Hannah turned down the role of Deborah. Hannah specifically did Splash (1984) instead of this film. See more »


In the credits, the song Yesterday is "Used by permission Norther Songs Ltd." where it should say "Northern Songs Ltd." (including the second 'n' in Northern). 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 »


Spoofed in Tropic Thunder (2008) See more »


'Summertime' from 'Porgy and Bess'
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward (as Dubose Hayward) and Ira Gershwin
Courtesy of Gershwin Publishing Company/Chappel and Co.
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.

107 of 179 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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