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4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
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+ Once Upon a Time in the West / Il Était une fois dans l'Ouest (Bilingual)
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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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5 of 5 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are lucky... Aug. 12 2003
By philrob
... that Hollywood is not the only movie making in the world. I think they don't have realized yet that McCarthy is not any longer very trendy, and that they're not invested by God the right of deciding by themselves what people should see.
The only flaw (for me) is the casting of E. McGovern, who, although otherwise a fine actress, is an absolute mismatch for Jennifer Connelly as the young Deborah.
For those who complain about some DVD transfer quality problems, I could not even get the 2nd DVD working after 'Intermission', but I could get them both working without any trouble on another DVD drive set on region 4: another fine example of the nonsense in regional coding (Hollywood Code, Regional Codes, and I don't think they'll stop there if they're left in charge of the ruling), since both of the discs are not supposed to be played by anything else than a zone 1 DVD.
I think as well that the splitting (unavoidable with almost 4 hours) should have been done by someone who liked this movie and could have therefore thought of doing the cutting either at the beginning or at the end of the scene which they cut (and not because they could not pack one more second of footage): that's unforgivable, and it's only a proof of the lack of consideration for this movie or its viewers.
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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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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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 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 4 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 11 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 15 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 20 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
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