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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R | | Crime, Drama | 1 June 1984 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Sergio Leone

Writers:

Harry Grey (novel), Leonardo Benvenuti (screenplay) | 6 more credits »
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Popularity
666 ( 45)
Top Rated Movies #71 | Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Noodles
James Woods ... Max
Elizabeth McGovern ... Deborah
Treat Williams ... Jimmy O'Donnell
Tuesday Weld ... Carol
Burt Young ... Joe
Joe Pesci ... Frankie
Danny Aiello ... Police Chief Aiello
William Forsythe ... Cockeye
James Hayden James Hayden ... Patsy
Darlanne Fluegel ... Eve (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Larry Rapp ... Fat Moe
Dutch Miller Dutch Miller ... Van Linden
Robert Harper ... Sharkey
Richard Bright ... Chicken Joe
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Italy

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

1 June 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in America See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,412,014, 3 June 1984, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$5,321,508
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-cut) | (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Sergio Donati, from 1967 to 1977, all Sergio Leone had for the film was an opening scene: the corpse of an old gangster falls into the Hudson River and sinks to the bottom, where an underwater neighborhood of bodies is revealed. Leone devised this scene with Screenwriter Robert Dillon, who then pilfered it for 99 and 44/100% Dead! (1974). See more »

Goofs

Container cargo cranes are visible when the boys are waiting to for the crates of booze to float to the surface. Containerized cargo was not used until the middle 1950s. 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

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

Alternate Versions

The infamous 139 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 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. All of the scenes in 1968 with Deborah were excised, and the scene with "Secretary Bailey" ended with him shooting himself (albeit off-screen), rather than the famous garbage truck conclusion of the 229-minute version. The shortened version, while briefly on VHS in the 1980s, is in little demand and almost impossible to find. See more »

Connections

References The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) See more »

Soundtracks

Yesterday
Words and Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Courtesy of Northern Songs Ltd./ATV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Once Upon A Time In America, There Was This Bomb...
17 April 2017 | by krocheavSee all my reviews

There seems perhaps something peculiar to certain Italian movie makers - as if there's a fault in their genes. Many tend to be attracted to themes over-saturated with cruelty and immorality of the vilest kind. Is it perhaps from their Roman heritage - or the dregs from too many wars? Sergio Leone, is just one example – he joins the list of Pasolini, Bertolucci, etc....

I grew up thinking 'Once Upon A Time In The West' (and his other aptly named 'spaghetti 'westerns) were OK, until I revisited Leone's work years later – only then realizing how foolishly written and overblown they all were! "Once Upon A Time In America" is more of the same, simply without the horses, different styles of guns, and a pan pipe replacing the harmonica! (and we're supposed to believe this toy would sound like Gheorghe Zampfir!!) You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. No matter what ridiculous sums of money you poor into a sloppy patch-work of a script in attempts to make it visually impressive - it still remains foolish. Seems most audiences are not so easily fooled as some critics and Hollywood types – this 30 million dollar splurge returned a measly $5 million. So, it's beginning to look like many of the 'rave' reviews may have been posted by some of those who lost 'BIG' money and just might be attempting to mark up some losses. After all, this is the picture that almost ruined the Ladd Company.

The lush symphonic music all seems to have come from another film (in 'Once in America's' case it did! and sounds like it's still looking for the other movie!) Along with sumptuous photography it's all just a further attempt to dress up a ridiculous convoluted script - written by nine different writers! - then given a confusing shape to hide plot holes and poor development of character. Here is a movie overflowing with just about every type of perversion: repugnant brutality, extreme sexual immorality with violence, drugs, glorification of criminals and the gun - it simply drags on ad nauseous for more than 3 hrs of over-the-top ugliness. They say you must see this long version but the short Vera (still too long at near 2 1/2hrs) might have helped. The performers have done these characters in numerous other movies, so nothing new is being brought to this tiresome mess.

If you're easily pleased and have lots of time to idle away you might last the distance - if not, stay away.


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