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A movie with Morricone's music
 mov-009 Once upon a time in America /C'era una volta in America
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Once upon a time in America /C'era una volta in America
Once upon a time in America /C'era una volta in America
About the movie from IMDB


Director:Sergio Leone

Writers:Harry Grey (novel)
Leonardo Benvenuti (writer) ...
Release Date:1 June 1984 (USA) more
Genre:Crime / Drama more
Tagline:Crime, passion and lust for power - Sergio Leone's explosive saga of gangland America. [Australia Theatrical] more
Plot Outline:A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to Brooklyn over 30 years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life. more
Plot Synopsis:View full synopsis. (warning! may contain spoilers)
Plot Keywords:Female Nudity / Betrayal By Friend / Gangster Film / Loss / Passion more
Awards:Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 3 nominations more

Cast (Cast overview, first billed only)

Robert De Niro ... David 'Noodles' Aaronson

James Woods ... Maximilian 'Max' Bercovicz

Elizabeth McGovern ... Deborah Gelly

Joe Pesci ... Frankie Manoldi

Burt Young ... Joe

Tuesday Weld ... Carol

Treat Williams ... James Conway O'Donnell

Danny Aiello ... Police Chief Vincent Aiello

Richard Bright ... Chicken Joe
James Hayden ... Patrick 'Patsy' Goldberg

William Forsythe ... Philip 'Cockeye' Stein

Darlanne Fluegel ... Eve (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Larry Rapp ... 'Fat' Moe Gelly
Richard Foronjy ... Officer 'Fartface' Whitey (as Richard Foronji)

Robert Harper ... Sharkey

Additional Details

Also Known As:C'era una volta in America (Italy)
MPAA:Rated R for strong violence, sexual content, language and some drug use. (edited version)
Parents Guide:View content advisory for parents
Runtime:229 min / USA:139 min (re-cut)
Country:Italy / USA
Language:English / Italian / French
Color:Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:1.85 : 1 more
Sound Mix:Mono


How you top one of the best openings in the movies ever (......... in The West) - darkness and footsteps. Leone's film like its predecessor was very long and I suspect cut but its first version was at least lucid and the shocking finale to the opening isn't fully explained until the end. We are in gangster land and death is cheaply bought. Anyone deemed to be a "rat" and the de Niro character starts out without friends and we see why.

So after the violent opening we jump forward to the later 60s and a older de Niro come back to face his ghosts and we then go back to his life as a child in the deprived background of New York and his drifting into crime with four friends and his love for Deborah (Jennifer Connelly first and Elizabeth McGovern the adult).

No rules and no-one is lovable but all are believable and the lost of one of the 5 is tragic even though they are criminals and the younger Noodles lands in jail for avenging the lost of his friend. Jump forward again and it seems although years before he had "escaped" - his enemies knew all the time where he was and had allowed him to grow old but now wanted something from him for their largess. He retrieves the money he thought he had stashed 30 years before but it was to buy something and he remembers the adult 4 gangsters making waves all over New York. They had stuck by him whilst inside and he was a made man.

Crime had changed but it was still changing loyalties, brutal dealings, unions and politics now. And quietly one of their number turned himself into a respectable man whilst carrying on as a gangster. He had ambitions but friendships remained until it stood in the "one" persons way and it was sold with everything else. Noodles met but couldn't relate to his childhood sweetheart and their coupling was awful and effectively "rape".

And Noodles decided that crime was not for him and after warring with himself "ratted" on the trio not realising he himself was being played.

And the beginning of the film - the manhunt with victims who wouldn't or couldn't talk is thrown into sharp contrast to the confusion at the beginning and an opium den and a ringing phone that will drive you mad.

And the final reckoning when Noodles is offered a chance of revenge - to apologise to "Deborah" and found out why he has been living on borrowed time. A sliver of friendship remained but "Noodles got his own revenge for the treachery and what happens at the end is up for discussion.

The metaphor of garbage collection - possibly - has never been so apt but joyous modern life drowns out old times and an odyssy comes to an end. Older - not wiser but sadder.

And the music. I turn away from the film sometimes but Morricone's excelled himself in this one and the soundtrack is worth getting and stands alone.

Robert De Niro, James Woods, William Forsythe, Joe Pesci, Treat Williams, Elizabeth McGovern and Tuesday Weld.

I am pleased Leone made this after the ridiculous - in my opinion - "Duck You Sucker". It was a fitting legacy.

(See here)

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