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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 168,552 users  
Reviews: 465 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 13 wins & 4 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:

As boys, they made a pact to share their fortunes, their loves, their lives. As men, they shared a dream to rise from poverty to power. Forging an empire built on greed, violence and betrayal, their dream would end as a mystery that refuse to die. 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:

|

Language:

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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

During filming, Sergio Leone hailed Robert De Niro as a much better actor than Clint Eastwood, whom Leone had frequently directed (and who Leone had been jealous of as at that time Eastwood was getting more directorial acclaim than he was). However, afterwards Leone made his peace with Eastwood and retracted these statements. See more »

Goofs

When Deborah's train leaves for Hollywood, a French railroad car (SNCF) is on a track in the background. Above the French car, a sign can be seen saying "Voie 13", which is French for Track 13, indicating this scene was shot at a French railway station. 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 Goodfellas (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

'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

 
Make sure you get the director's cut!
19 September 2004 | by (Tessenderlo, Belgium) – See all my reviews

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 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.


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