Once Upon A Time In America

Once Upon a Time in America

Everyone’s first thoughts seem to be to compare this film with the Godfather. Everyone knows Godfather I and II as great masterpieces in film history and as well they should be. But don’t cheat yourself out of seeing this film, because you would be doing just that, only cheating yourself.

Believe it or not, I have never seen the American cut of this film, which I understand was hacked and put into chronological order. I guess American studios don’t have that much faith in American movie fans to follow anything a bit different or actually thinking for themselves. Directed by Sergio Leone who was known best for the spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), directs this film. When taking in a film by Leone, just be ready for a drawn out, mood setting scenes which are very well crafted. Being drawn out isn’t a bad thing, just as the water pump knocks back and forth endlessly at the beginning of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a telephone rings for what seems 5 minutes, setting the mood, increasing tension and peaking curiosity.

Of course accompanying Leone is Ennio Morricone. (who also scored the famous and highly recognizable The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly score….you know you’re singing it in your head right now!) Morricone does the usual masterful almost haunting score for which he won a Golden Globe for. Leone and Morricone are a wonderful team and seems to be meant for each other.

This film stars Robert DeNiro (Best Actor Raging Bull) plays Noodles. The film follows his character and Noodles only knows one thing, never sell out your friends. James Woods plays his friend Max. Woods is wonderful as the flying by the seat of his pants, high strung friend. Joe Pesci (Goodfellas) and Burt Young (Pauly in Rocky) give good performances as well. And if you think you kind of recognize the little girl dancing in the beginning, you probably do know her. This is Jennifer Connelly’s (Blood Diamond, A Beautiful Mind) very first feature film.

This is a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it. I didn’t want to give too much away in this review, for those that want to see it. Remember Sergio Leone is a wonderful storyteller, but tells it his way at his pace, which just adds color and drama to his films. Settle in with a bucket of popcorn or some good red wine…this is good movie making!



Network. I am trying to think of a better over all acted movie, and it is
really hard to do. Every performance in this film is really outstanding.
Both William Holden (Best Actor for Stalag 17) and Peter Finch were both
nominated for Best Actor, of course Peter Finch taking the statue. Both were
just enthralling to watch. Faye Dunaway, won Best Actress for her role. She
is amazing and holds her own against the Hollywood heavyweights Holden and
Duvall. Which brings me to Robert Duvall, who probably should have got a
nomination for supporting actor. Even the small role of Ned Beatty earned
himself a nomination in that category. In fact my favorite line of the movie
isn’t the famous “I’m as mad as hell..” but the Beatty line ” The world is a
business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.”
 Wow, enough about performances. With all the other awards this movie won,
kind of a shame it didn’t go on to win Bets Picture, but lost to Rocky. This
film is a great look at what TV stations will do for ratings. The
exploitation of a screaming madman sends rating through the roof. And comes
full circle as the TV network atcs out what a newsman was originally fired
for to begin with.
 Sydney Lumet is just masterful at pulling performances out of people. He
has been doing great movies for years, from 12 Angry Men in 1957 to Before
the Devil Knows Your Dead
in 2007, and plenty of greatness in between. Even
if you think you may not like this film, everyone should see it once and try
to understand it as it is one of the great movies of all time.