A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.
Robert De Niro,
The Miami Beach scenes were filmed at the Don Cesar resort in St. Petersburg, Florida. See more »
In the iconic shot of the Brooklyn Bridge between the two buildings, a modern streetlight is visible by the base of the bridge. See more »
[In 1933, two goons rudely question a young woman]
Where is he? Where's he hiding?
I don't know... I've been looking for him since yesterday.
[second goon slaps her harshly; she falls onto the bed]
I'm gonna ask you for the last time: Where is he?
I don't know... What are you gonna do to him?
[Two shots are heard]
[to his partner]
Stay here in case that rat shows up...
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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 »
This has to be the most boring gangster film I've ever seen. Basically it's about Robert DeNiro and James Wood's friendship over fifty years or so as they rise and fall in the gang world. It's interesting to do it about Jewish gangsters, because most films center on Italian gangsters, but their being Jewish didn't seem to make much difference in the film. DeNiro and Woods were subdued, and I didn't buy for a second that they actually might care about one another. The female lead and DeNiro had no chemistry. Leone centered more on cinemetography than story, and the little story there was was painfully streched out to almost three and a half hours. Speaking of the cinemetography- sure there were some very nice images, but basically they were going for the same look as "The Godfather" only maybe with a little more of a golden nostolgia feel for it. I don't mind slowly paced films, but that deliberate pace must be used to draw the viewer into the film, the pace of "Once Upon a Time," just makes the viewer wish that he had commited suicide instead of having to watch it. I'm not a big gangster film fan, but this one ranks low among gangster films. It lacks the visual pop of "Goodfella's," the emotional intensity of "Miller's Crossing," the cultural/historic significance of "Godfather," the moralistic elements of "Angels with Dirty Faces," or the acting prowess of "White Heat." And it is certainly a lot more boring than any of the above films listed.
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