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4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
19 of 20 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Criminal Tragedy... Feb. 26 2004
Once Upon a Time in America is an epic crime tale about two teenage friends, Noodles (Robert De Niro) and Max (James Woods), and their companionship which is surrounded by deceit and murder. Max and Noodle meet each other in the early years of 1900, and their friendship takes them through a dynasty of crime. In this dynasty they have committed themselves to each other in a pact where they will share all the profits, which blossom throughout the prohibition. But like all tales, this tale must seek its impeding end as it leads the audience toward an ending similar to that of many Greek classics.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film,VERY Dissapointing DVD!!!! May 29 2004
Sergio Leone's final masterpiece ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA is by far a unique and amazing piece of filmmaking by one of the cinema's greatest Italian directors since Fellini and De Sica.The story involves a ruthless gangster David 'Noodles' Aronson (played brilliantly by Robert DeNiro) who ends up fleeding away from his friends in the 1940's and returns back to them in the late '60's through many years of hardships as young kids growing up on the wrong side of the tracks to being successful in crime during the prohibition era of the '30's.Prior to its original U.S. release in 1984,this film recieved many great reviews and audience praise when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and The New York Film Festival.The film's distributor,Warner Bros/The Ladd Company,uncerimoniously cut out 90 minutes out of the original running time fearing that the movie would run too long and that they wouldn't get as many showings in a single day.The edited version totally changes the complete story continuity of the original film and therefore isn't even as good to watch ,even if you have already seen the longer version.In fact,this edited version of the movie has already been shown once on cable network television on the TNN network (now called SPIKE TV) in April,2003 and believe me,it isn't even worth watching! Warner's 2-disc Special Edition of the film is perhaps,in my opinion,one of the worst special edition DVD's I have ever purchased so far!!! Although the film is presented in its original 229-minute uncut version and in a beautifully preserved 1:85.1 aspect ratio,Disc one innapropriately stops in the middle of the Diamond Robbery scene,even though the disc jacket says it ends directly at the intermission title card!! But on Disc two,the intermission takes place nearly ten chapters into the second disc!! Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 13 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not That Bad A Movie. April 27 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
“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. bliggick”if that’s your name,you have nail it,
it’s everything I wanted to say, when I see the negative voting on some reviews that I read,I can’t help
but voice my opinion,it’s like people forget what they see,they give away five stars like it make no sense to them,
what they’ve seen,this movie was so muddle,I couldn’t ascertain middle from start to finish,or back to the start,
so what happen to the guys that killed Noodles girlfriend,they just disappear of the planet,what we get here,
from the Ten-hours that he originally filmed,is a sweeping love story with some Gangster thrown in,
I enjoyed most of the movie.so don’t get me wrong now,I can live with it this way,it’s sad to see the old time long
frame shooting style gone that Sergio Leone” capture so well,like the “Good the Bad and the Ugly”
“Once Upon a Time in the West” Respectively,
Not That Bad A Movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 10 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 13 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 18 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
2.0 out of 5 stars Why this "director's cut" is still a muddled mess
One thing that you should know about this movie, according to the running commentary on this DVD set, is that Leone originally shot 10 hours of film. Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Bliggick
3.0 out of 5 stars Betrayal of course
Okay of course someone saw that I love Gangsta movies, and books and suggested that this had to be one for the collection. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Nardsbaby
1.0 out of 5 stars Distastefully Grafic
If the movie had left out the offensive grafic sex scenes, especially with kids involved in sex acts, I could have enjoyed this movie a little bit. Read more
Published on June 17 2004
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