Friday, September 7, 2012

Once Upon a Time in America

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Screenplay by Leonardo Benvenuti & Piero De Bernardi & Enrico Medioli & Franco Arcalli & Franco Ferrini & Sergio Leone with additional dialogue by Stuart Kaminsky and uncredited  work by
Ernesto Gastaldi

Based on the novel, "The Hoods" by Harry Grey

Currently #79 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, James Hayden, William Forsythe, Larry Rapp and Joe Pesci

I wanted to see A Soldier's Story for longest time, but the movie was not available by the time of this posting. I decided to see Sergio Leone's epic last movie, Once Upon a Time in America. I saw that it was on the Top 250 of All-Time on IMDb. This is the longest movie that I have ever seen at 229 minutes and I loved almost every minute of it.

It is not a typical gangster film. The film takes place in the turn of the century New York, Prohibition Era circa 1933 and in 1968. Noodles (DeNiro) comes back to the neighborhood where he grows up to see how he was contacted 35 years after he was hunted for being a rat. He seeks refuge to his childhood friend, Fat Moe's (Rapp) bar trying to figure out who is trying to contact him. The movie shifts between the three times periods as you see Noodles meeting Max (Woods) becoming a bootlegger with his other friends, Patsy (Hayden) and Cockeye (Forsythe).

Going into this movie, I thought it was going to be a drawn out boring movie with no pay off. I was completely wrong. There is something about this movie that drew me in. Watching a love letter about grow up in olden times were the mob was getting started to friends making it big in smuggling booze and a broken man trying to put back what went wrong in his life. The movie is not a bloodbath like I thought it would be. The movie is a quiet, introspective take of a gangster film as the glitz, glamor and intrigue is gone. What are you left with after that time is gone?

It was strange to see that Jennifer Connelly makes her film debut in this film. James Hayden who played Patsy died before the movie was released. People pop up in this film that got my mind reeling. I was swept up in the gorgeous visuals of the coastline. Ennio Morricone's score is great.  Being that this is the last film by Sergio Leone, he delivered a stellar movie. A great send off.

My Rating

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