8.4/10
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574 user 125 critic

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 »
Reviews
Popularity
674 ( 26)
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:

Italian American "mafia" actors trying to play Jewish ones. 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

In the early stages of production, Gérard Depardieu was cast to play the young David "Noodles" Aaronson, and Jean Gardner was going to play the old Noodles. Depardieu said that he was willing to learn English with a Brooklyn accent for the role. See more »

Goofs

Chief Aiello wears Captains insignia, not police chiefs rank. 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 Brazilian DVD (Warner) is heavily censored by blurring and re-framing in the scene a woman pretends to be dead in the back of a hearse by blurring and re-framing. These cuts were originally made in the Korean release. The first Brazilian release by Flashstar is uncut. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema (2005) 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

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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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