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Once Upon a Time in America (Version française)

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)

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This movie has a checkered history, having been chopped from its original 227-minute director's cut to 139 minutes for its U.S. release. This longer edition benefits from having the complete story (the short version has huge gaps) about turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants in America finding their way into lives of crime, as told in flashback by an aging Jewish gangster named Noodles (Robert De Niro). On the other hand, it's almost four hours long, and this sometimes-indulgent Sergio Leone film is no Godfather. Still, it is notable for the contrast between Leone's elegiac take on the gangster film and his occasional explosive action, as well as for the mix of the stoic, inexpressive De Niro and the hyperactive James Woods as his lifelong friend and rival. --Marshall Fine

Special Features

At 229 minutes, this is the longest cut seen on video, and the version seen at Cannes and in the rest of Europe. It's only two minutes longer than the version available for a long time on VHS, adding (mostly) more gruesome shots of violence in four different scenes. The sound and image have been remastered, making for a pristine presentation. Time film critic Richard Schickel does a commendable job in his feature-length commentary. Although he doesn't know all the insider stuff, he has ample knowledge and affection for Sergio Leone, and will help the interested viewer reexamine the film from a few different viewpoints. The only other extras are nearly 100 production photos and a 20-minute excerpt from a documentary on Leone, Once Upon a Time, which leads to one puzzler: why isn't the whole documentary on the disc? --Doug Thomas

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Most helpful customer reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece no matter what anyone says July 11 2004
Yes, the film is four hours long, and yes, there is an hour and a half flashback sequence. But don't let this ward you way from what is truly a masterpiece of a gangster flick. The flashback itself is engrossing and endearing. If you love movies, if you love great acting, if you love history, this is the epic for you.
'Once Upon a Time in America' is a film about a group of four friends who have grown up together in New York City since the turn of the century. They grew up around crime and took part in it themselves. 'America' doesn't focus on the truly criminal aspects of the tale, though; nor does it glorify violence in any way. In a genius move, director Sergio Leone portrays how crime influences this tough, beautiful, but delicate friendship.
This brings me to the famously long flashback. Anyone who tells you it is boring, unimportant and relentless was obviously not paying attention. They must also have a short attention span, for the portrayel of the four main characters' childhood is at times beautiful, elegiac and hilarious. It tells a timeless tale of the central character in the film, Noodles (later played by Robert DeNiro), and his obsession with the local beauty (a young Jennifer Conally, later played by Elizabeth McGovern) who refuses to love him because he'll "always be a two-bit punk." It reminisces on the constant loss of virginities to the town prostitute who makes love for the price of one pastry (what accompanies this story line is a legendary scene where a young teenager succumbs to the temptation of his pastry gift). And it ends in one of the film's most emotional moments that proves you must have a strong stomach to really pay attention and/or appreciate the film to full extent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of the genre Feb. 22 2004
By cvairag
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest movies ever made. May 7 2004
'Once Upon a Time in America', simply put, is the best gangster movie I've ever seen and is one of the greatest movies ever made. The entire film seems like long, beautiful, and scary dream. By the end of the story, I felt like I witnessed the entrie lives of the characters. I felt like I understood their every feeling and emotion, their joys and sadness. Moviemaking is rarely this magical or this tragic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sergio Leone's final masterpiece Jan. 18 2004
Sergio Leone's final sprawling epic is finally presented in all it's restored glory on this 2-disc DVD. Once Upon a Time in America tells the story of four childhood friends who find their way into the world of organized crime; specifically from the viewpoint of Noodles (Robert De Niro) as he reminisces as an old man. At 229 minutes, this is the longest cut of the film to ever see the light of day, and while some may see Once Upon a Time in America as an exercise in indulgence (and let's face it, it can be at some points) one can't deny the lasting power of Leone's final film. It may not achieve the same type of greatness as The Godfather, Goodfellas, etc.; but Once Upon a Time in America was in it's day, just like Gangs of New York is today, an underrated masterpiece. The DVD itself is poorly constructed however. The film is split into two parts, mostly because of the feature length commentary by film historian Richard Schickel, but Warner Bros. could have done a much better job. We get an excerpt of a documentary about Leone, but why wasn't the whole thing included on here? Just like they did with their earlier 2-disc re-releases of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, True Romance, and Unforgiven; Warner Bros. has crafted another disappointing DVD set.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Elegiac Dreamscape Nov. 26 2003
By safira
By all means watch this 227 minute 2-disc special edition instead of the superedited shorter version. From what I've read an American film company cout 80 minutes = 1/3 to director Sergio Leone's horror, citing that his 10-year dram/masterwork/tribute to America was "barbarously massacred".

OUATIA was previewed in 1984 to American test audeinces & greedy studio heads fearing bad box office in a fast-paced culture assumed Americans would not want to sit thrgouh over 3 hours and 45 minutes & so edited it themselves (Leone wanted nothing to do w/editing it). Consequently, it did not receive the praise it did at Cannes, Britain, and Europe becuase those audiences and the rest of the world saw the full diretcctor's version; North American was the only country that did not show the original version & of course the oscards ignored it. I don't rememer hearing about this movie in 84 becuse of bad marketing but I decieded to watch it recently as I want to see all of Robert De Niro's films.

I will be honest hahere and say that upon first viewing I gave up on it and kept fast forwarding & was angered at the violence ans sexism. I gave it another viewing and am glad I did. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because its hard to enjoy a film where the few females characters have positions of being prostitues or mistresses and are subjected to rape & abuse . But I do like that Leone did not sugarcoat his characters & risked allientating his audience for the sake of realization.

Ennio Morriccone's majestic orchestral score (especially the strings & pan flute) is hauntingly delicious in this gangster epic & is in itself an important character. I love Italian film music and this score is one of the most touching I have heard.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch seller
Great experience with this seller. Perfect item and good packing. Thanks!
Published 25 days ago by Patrice Byloos
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Stéphane
4.0 out of 5 stars Not That Bad A Movie.
“It’s a known fact that you can’t please everyone” especially when I see what other people has writhen
here about movies with there review,and I got to say Mr. Read more
Published 5 months ago by trek fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Gangster Picture
Amazing! Perhaps the best ethnographic reconstruction of early 20th century immigrant life in lower Manhattan since Godfather II. A trifle long but quite riveting. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Naamshui
4.0 out of 5 stars Il était une fois en Amérique : nostalgie d'une...
L'Amérique des années trente racontée par le grand créateur des westerns « spaghetti », Sergio Leone. Read more
Published 16 months ago by CINEVORE
3.0 out of 5 stars Found it more 'dated' than I expected to.
I had seen the original film and remembered it as thrilling and cutting edge at the time. With all the fine television and films over the recent years regarding this era, it was... Read more
Published 21 months ago by jackie haywood
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't make them like they used too.
What an amazing movie from the past. It is a well written classic that should be part of anyone's collection.
Published on Aug. 30 2011 by Pathfinder Lover
3.0 out of 5 stars The Timeless Gangster Saga
Once upon a Time in America, is one of those movies, you never get tired of. The film aged gracefully and there are few if any clues it is not a contemporary movie. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2011 by Gheorghe Weisz
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
Every time I watch this movie, I get closer to calling it my all-time favourite. It's a magnum opus in the truest sense, and many of the things people believe to be flaws in it are... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2010 by Jimbo Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars a classic
his is an epic, episodic tale of the lives of a small group of New York City Jewish gangsters spanning over 40 years. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2007 by Francesca Jourdan
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