With the vivid memory of his long-gone childhood friends, Max, Patsy, and Cockeye, etched in his mind, his ferociously loyal partners-in-crime during their rise to prominence in New York's Prohibition-era Lower East Side, the defeated, penniless, and guilt-ridden former gangster, David "Noodles" Aaronson, returns to Manhattan. Not knowing what to expect, while on a mission to shed light on his opaque past, grizzled Noodles reunites with his only living friend, Fat Moe, after thirty-five haunted years of self-exile. However, the relentless, piercing sound of culpability stands in the way of finding closure, as the inscrutable content of a well-worn leather suitcase further complicates matters. And now, against the backdrop of a torn conscience, the sad and bittersweet recollections of more than fifty years of love, death, and everything in between, become inextricably intertwined, leading to even more puzzling questions. But, what are a man's options when he is left with nothing?Written by
The U.S. distributor reportedly failed to file the proper paperwork so that Ennio Morricone's score, regarded as one of his best, could be put up for nomination for an Academy Award. See more »
Just before the boys demonstrate the salt trick to the Italians, fluorescent lighting is visible inside the large buildings in the background. Fluorescent lights weren't commercially available until the 1940's. See more »
[In 1933, three goons question a young woman about Noodles]
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?
[second goon shoots her dead]
[to third goon]
Stay here in case that rat shows up.
One of Beefy's Thugs:
[...] See more »
For its U.S. theatrical release the film was cut by 90 minutes from 3 hours and 47 minutes to 2 hours and 19 minutes after savage reviews from American critics after the film's premiere at Cannes. Many film critics gave two separate reviews for the film. While the complete European version was highly praised outside the USA (but slated by many American critics when given a limited US release a few months after a heavily cut version was released) the edited US theatrical release was critically butchered. 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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