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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
598 ( 86)
Top Rated Movies #70 | Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 7 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 said they would die for each other. As men, they did. 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 Leone, over two hundred actors auditioned for the part of Max. See more »

Goofs

When Noodle stabs Bugsy they are on the left side of the Manhattan bridge. But when the police are coming, the whole scene is moved to the right side of the bridge. 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

Referenced in Pi (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Night and Day
Words and Music by Cole Porter
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A major disappointment
10 June 2003 | by carda1See all my reviews

Over the years, this film has gained a near-mythological status: how Sergio Leone turned down 'The Godfather' to make this opus, his 16 years trying to get it made, the film's 'butchering' upon its North American release in 1984, Leone's 'broken heart' that led to his death just a few years later, etc. So, after reading a glowing review about a new, uncut version on DVD, I couldn't wait to rent the film.

I wish I could say it was a masterpiece. Clunky dialogue, lousy acting, cardboard characters, a pompous, TV mini-series feel to the story, unbelievable situations all conspire to sink this movie under its own weight.

One of the problems seems to be that the script was written by Italians and then somehow translated into English by an American writer who must have a tin ear for dialogue. The actors, all of whom have been excellent elsewhere, are left to look foolish uttering the stuff. The only one who barely gets by is De Niro - we realize what a great actor he is since he makes the most what he's given, which ain't much. Poor James Woods, who has appointed himself the chief cheerleader for this film, leaves little scenery unchewed. The rest of the cast go from mediocre to embarrassing - even the lovely and talented Jennifer Connelly, who appears as the love interest as a child, does not escape unscathed.

Having said all that, I seem to be in the minority about this film. So go ahead and see it, if you must. Just don't mention it in the same breath as 'The Godfather'.


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