Against the setting of the roots of organized crime in New York, Sergio Leone has given us an unforgettable epic, about lost opportunities, the price of dreams, the cost of power and success, and the nature of damnation. The story, based on an obscure novel, The Hoods, evolves around the rivalry/friendship of two childhood friends (DeNiro and Woods), and the empire which evolves around this increasing center of tension.
Although I have issues with the credibility of a few of the performances which creates a certain uneveness (Sergio L was rumored at the time to be in agreement) and what come off as seeming contrivances of plot (which are to an extent, I believe, in some ways due to the cuts and the editing), the film includes what I consider to be Tuesday Weld's last great moments on the screen, and DeNiro's performance is understated and spectacular (this is the film with which he followed up Raging Bull).
I was fortunate to see the original cut (225 min+) on the big screen, when it opened at the Plitt in L.A. in early summer of 1984 (i.e., before its release to the general public . I have not seen the restored cut on DVD. However, as I remember, the film is a thing of beauty as cinema (the EYE-talian visual magic) and you won't forget how it ends.