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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece no matter what anyone says
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...
Published on July 11 2004 by wannabemoviecritic

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film,VERY Dissapointing DVD!!!!
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...
Published on May 29 2004 by Jake Marsico


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19 of 19 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. It is quite hard to watch not because of any sort of violence, but because of its emotional rawness ending in a near cataclysmic incident.
This carries over into the rest of the film, dotted with modern day looks at Noodles and his three friends who are dead at the beginning of the film. After his mental journey through the past, he searches in real life for the love of his life, played by Elizabeth McGovern. What ensues is a twist, one of the best in cinematic history (that I've seen, anyway). You won't be disappointed.
What is masterful about all of these storylines, flashbacks and flashforwards is the extent of their depth. Leone accompanies each detail with an unforgettable emotional truth that extends deep into each character's (and our own) psyche. And for those who love history, Leone sets this saga in the days of prohibition, which offers the four friends an occupation, of sorts.
Apart from the amazing depth in character and story, the production values are top notch, with glorious sets, cinematography and editing. And don't forget the delicacy of the writing and direction. It all works together so well on so many levels.
So to those who have strong stomachs (there are bouts of intense violence) and those who are not too young (this is definitely not a family film, as it portrays some graphic sexuality) and also those who are in love with cinema, I recommend 'Once Upon a Time in America.' Oh, and make sure you have a good attention span. This is not a short movie by any means, although it zips by in the best sense.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Criminal Tragedy..., Feb. 26 2004
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
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 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film,VERY Dissapointing DVD!!!!, May 29 2004
By 
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!! What a real travesty!!! Plus,there are no really great bonus features other than a terrific audio commentary by film critic/historian Richard Schickel,trailer,an excerpt from the hour-long documentary "Once Upon A Time:Sergio Leone" on the making of the film itself,and nothing else!!! However,the movie appears on HBO from time to time and is actually the same version that's on the DVD in which this version includes the Ladd Company credits and no intermission title card!!! I taped that version not too long ago and trust me,it's a lot better than this DVD mess,plus,I got the entire movie on one tape!!! Tape this longer version off of HBO and you won't be dissapointed and enjoy and appreciate this true masterpiece of Sergio Leone in its entirety!! Warner Bros could've done a lot better and nicer job on this DVD,but thankfully learned their lesson with better-selling DVD's after this fiasco!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies, one of the worst DVDs, Feb. 20 2004
By 
J. Collins "hypressure" (Dallas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
This movie speaks for itself. We don't have to go into the content, performances, or controversial subject matter, since who hasn't seen this movie???
My issue is the DVD itself.
1) The cut from disc 1 to disc 2 is lousy. I would have done it where the "intermission" scene happens, but then I'm not in charge of these type of things, leave that to the smart guys.
2) The sound and picture were DVD? I thought I may have accidentally splipped in my VHS copy instead. Where did they remaster this thing, Radio Shack?
3) The bonus features are lousy. 229 minute movie and you couldn't come up with anything good?
a) an 18 minute documentary that looks like it was filmed by me
b) a "photographic journey" that you can't fast forward thru
c) Cast & crew section that just lists the names- no info on each name, except Leone, who really never did much except eat.
d) Deleted scenes: NONE
e) Alternate ending: NONE
f) Spanish & French: NONE
g) Booklet: NONE
4) And finally this informative commentary, that was worth including. Have you ever gone to a movie with someone who turned out to be "below your level" and just won't shut up??? He's here, on this DVD!!! And he won't shut up!!!
This is the Special Edition DVD, right? Tell you what, I found a greek version. Now it doesn't have subtitles (unless your greek), but the audio & picture is much better and IT'S ONE DISC! You don't have to turn it over or anything!!! ONE DISC!!
Save yourself a lot of heartbreak and don't buy this version, they must know that a lot of people are quite unhappy with it. Read the other reviews!!!
Now go get your @#$! shine box, and buy Goodfellas instead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Gangster Picture, Sept. 26 2013
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Amazing! Perhaps the best ethnographic reconstruction of early 20th century immigrant life in lower Manhattan since Godfather II. A trifle long but quite riveting. I was a bit startled to see a French steam engine and a Pullman railway car at "Grand Central" as Deborah leaves for Hollywood. But I enjoyed it all
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4.0 out of 5 stars Il était une fois en Amérique : nostalgie d'une époque disparue, June 14 2013
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L'Amérique des années trente racontée par le grand créateur des westerns « spaghetti », Sergio Leone.

Vision douce-amère d'une époque où des gamins, délinquants, faisaient preuve d'imagination et de débrouillardise pour survivre dans des conditions difficiles.

Devenus adultes, ces mêmes gamins se transformeront en ... gangsters.

Et pendant près de quatre heures, Sergio Leone suit avec beaucoup d'émotion, pour ne pas dire de tendresse, les destins de cette bande de copains qui avaient compris que la richesse en Amérique s'acquiert parfois en ne respectant pas les règles.

L'Amérique de la prohibition vue par l'œil d'un cinéaste européen envoûté par les clichés de l'époque sur les bons et les méchants. Comme dans un western!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Found it more 'dated' than I expected to., Jan. 14 2013
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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 difficult to stay focused. I am spoiled, hard to go back unless one is going way back into the 40s or 50s.
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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
By 
Dhaval Vyas (Dallastown, PA U.S.A) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
'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
4.0 out of 5 stars a classic, Aug. 5 2007
By 
Francesca Jourdan (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
his is an epic, episodic tale of the lives of a small group of New York City Jewish gangsters spanning over 40 years. The movie centers on David 'Noodles' Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his lifelong partners in crime, Max (James Woods), Cockeye (William Forsythe) and Patsy (James Hayden) and their friends, who all grew up in New York's Lower East Side in the 1920s-1930s. In the late 1960s, an elderly Noodles returns to New York after many years in hiding to look into the past.

Told mostly in flashbacks and flash-forwards, this film is a classic that has us discover great actors, including Jennifer Connelly and Brian Bloom. It features a great cast, like Danny Aiello and Joe Pesci.

One of the masterpieces in film history worth watching.
If you have 4 hours to spare, take your time to watch it. It’s worth it – at least once in your lifetime – for the cinematography, the acting, the music, and the directing.
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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
This review is from: Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
... 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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