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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 7:44:36 AM   
Snake-Eyes


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*there are quite a few old posts on 'Movie Musings' about this film and I hope the Mods won't mind me starting this thread for Favourites (although, I was certain we already had one somewhere).



ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. Sergio Leone's final masterpiece was released in 1984 and I personally was somewhat gutted that last year - the 25th Anniversary of the film - did not see the release of the legendary cut of the film which is supposedly almost FIVE HOURS long! I read somewhere that one of Leone's daughters and producer Arnon Milchan were planning on some type of release (cinema or dvd I'm not sure) but I've heard nothing since.  There is so much to say about this epic that I don't know where to begin. Perhaps my good friend evil bill would do me the honour of a little write-up / review? I personally rate this as the best 'gangster film' ever made. I was never a fan of the 'Godfather' films, I just found this film to have characters that were more engaging. Leone's film-making powers truly were pumped up to the max here. The current two-disc dvd doesn't have nearly enough extras on it. I find Richard Schikel's commentary to be a bit dull (A Christopher Frayling talk-track would be welcome). I'm definitely due a viewing of this soon. I have to be in a particular mood to watch this classic, each viewing must be savoured.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 8:59:41 AM   
BOHEMIANBOB


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This is a true classic.
It is story driven,and tells a real and gritty tale of characters we get to know very personally,flaws and all.
It doesn't have and doesn't need a Pesci-type character to liven things up.
I think it's aged well,and is a truely epic film.

< Message edited by BOHEMIANBOB -- 8/7/2010 9:00:05 AM >


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 9:58:06 AM   
Rgirvan44


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A great movie, but also a little woman hating as well.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 11:33:51 AM   
BOHEMIANBOB


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Not patronising though!

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 12:26:21 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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There are a few harsh scenes which depict violence toward women and I do find it hard to watch the Noodles / Deborah rape scene. As I said before, I'm not that good with words and I'd love to read a little write-up by evil bill or anyone else with thoughts / criticism on this film.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 12:34:11 PM   
Rgirvan44


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The commentary has a nice theory about the film, but I am not sure the movie is suppose to make sense. It is a poem. A poem about America, the people who built it, and the cancer that is at its heart.

Greed is the running theme of the film. These characters, who can have noble intentions, give into their base insinticts. The cake scene pretty much sums up the film for me, and the essay Leone has about America in general.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 12:42:02 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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Greatest film ever made.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 3:56:22 PM   
rick_7


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A fantastic film, though I'd agree that the misogny leaves a sour taste. This is a write-up from that Top 100 I did:
 
 
 
41. Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984) is a gangster epic of rare power and eloquence. Robert De Niro is Noodles, an aged hoodlum who returns to the haunts of his youth on New York's Lower East Side and recalls his life. It's a shocking, sumptuously photographed crime drama that ruminates on love, death and the impermanence of memory, whilst punctuating its story with bursts of graphic violence, including two sickening rape scenes. This one possesses the feverish, time-shifting delirium you'd expect from a film framed as an opium dream, with vivid imagery and one of the greatest musical scores ever composed (from Ennio Morricone). There's plenty of plot, and very good it is too, but it's the vignettes I enjoyed the most each one allowed to play out in full. My favourite sees a boy buy a cream cake to trade for his virginity. As he's waiting outside, he eats just a little, then a little more, and then the lot. Then he shrugs to himself and walks off.

Favourite bit: The opening forty minutes - in which De Niro's ageing nobody returns to his former patch - are unforgettable.

See also: The Godfather Part II, a similarly elegiac treatment of the gangster movie. The, well, brown chapters set in 1920s New York anticipate OUATIA's visual sense.


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 6:47:09 PM   
evil bill


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

There are a few harsh scenes which depict violence toward women and I do find it hard to watch the Noodles / Deborah rape scene. As I said before, I'm not that good with words and I'd love to read a little write-up by evil bill or anyone else with thoughts / criticism on this film.

Your wish is my command mate,but i need to watch this again and get my thoughts right for this one,for it is a classic in every way.A true epic of a gangster movie,along with The Godfather,and of course directed as only Sergio Leone could,as it sits well with his other epics Once Upon A time In The West,and the best of all The Good The Bad And The Ugly.


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 8/7/2010 6:48:47 PM   
Sphinx


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Epic, brutal, Bobby again in a pin-stripe - good look!

Woods almost takes the film away.....almost


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 9/7/2010 9:45:36 PM   
hampstead bandit

 

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stunning film

gripping story

and THAT..haunting music that plays throughout the movie!
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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 14/7/2010 6:06:04 PM   
evil bill


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From: mordor/ uk
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Epic, episodic, tale of the lives of a small group of New York City Jewish gangsters spanning over 40 years. Told mostly in flashbacks and... Epic, episodic, tale of the lives of a small group of New York City Jewish gangsters spanning over 40 years. Told mostly in flashbacks and flash-forwards, the movie centers on small-time hood David 'Noodles' Aaronson and his lifelong partners in crime; Max, Cockeye and Patsy and their friends from growing up in the rough Jewish neighborhood of New York's Lower East Side in the 1920s, to the last years of Prohibition in the early 1930s, and then to the late 1960s where an elderly Noodles returns to New York after many years in hiding to look into the past.
 
In the wake of The Godfather, for Leone pr any director to even consider taking on an epically scoped New York gangster film takes courage,as Coppola had set the bar at an impossible height.But for me Leone's final film is a sprawling, haunting, visually rivteing masterpiece,that come's close to knocking The Godfather off the top spot,of greatest gangster epic ever.Great scene follows great scene with inventive direction for almost four hours,and do yourself a favour avoid the butchered theatrical version. The story about friendship among thieves, telling the story of a group of Jewish kids in New York near the turn of the century who grow up to become powerful and ruthless mobsters, while trying to maintain their bond with one another.This movie includes one of De Niro's best roles ever,in fact i think it's even tops his role in Godfather II,also it is James Woods best film role/acting ever.The rest of the cast are excellent,but these two just tear the screen apart in every scene there in,they are on more than just top form.Of course this is in no small part due to director Sergio Leone a real master when it comes to creating a special atmosphere, full of mystery, suspense and drama.It took almost ten years to get this motion picture to the screen,and Sergio's original script treatment  the outline for the story was 200 pages long,it ended up 400 pages.For me he's also one of the few directors who understands the art of cutting a movie in such a way that you can't help but stay glued right until the end.Plus because of the way the story is told in flashbacks,which are in no clear order,you really need to see this more than once,and you will be rewarded for this effort.As you know Sergio Leone is the master of extreme close-ups and wide frame shots,as seen in Fistful of Dollars and here with wide shots of busy streets. In one wonderful scene a young girl (pre-stardom Jennifer Connelly) walks along a street, and Leone pulls the camera up and up, and back, back, revealing the entire street,soon she is lost in the crowd. The same thing is done with De Niro's character as a child, and we lose image of him in the crowd, but then Sergio uses an almost invisible dissolve and we come back upon him.The movie is full of fantastic visuals,all with that European feel that Leone made his own,and so even if you feel lost on first viewing,you still be blown away.

The score by the greatest movie composer of all time, Ennio Morricone, is incredibly haunting in its beauty and sadness,with no fewer than three separate themes that are so breathtakingly beautiful.The movie alsocontains an incredible amount of sex and violence,which is both disturbing and sickening especially for a film made almost twenty years ago.I'd forgot how brutal and bloody the violence was in this epic,and how graphic some of the rapes are also.The most controversial is the rape scene between De Niro and Elizabeth McGovern,which even by today's movies is totally brutal scene.Now i'm not sure how much violence, sexual content was in the original 3 hour cut,but the 4 hour cut is a full on 18 cert without a doubt,making The Godfather look more like a 12A. Overall i do feel that Once Upon a Time in America is the finest movie of the 1980s,and the second greatest masterpiece of Leone's,also a close second to The Godfather as one of the greatest gangster movie's of all time.It is a must see in it's full 4 hour glory,a breath taking masterpiece,which has no equal in it's truly epic scale and vision,what away to leave this earth,with one last classic movie.

< Message edited by evil bill -- 14/7/2010 6:09:38 PM >


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 14/7/2010 7:36:05 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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Nice one
 bill!  Upon viewing this film again recently, I was also quite shocked as to how graphic the violence was for a film released in 1984. Sergio's style certainly evolved from the 'Dollars' days but there were small touches reminiscent of his early work (close-ups, minimal use of dialogue for certain scenes).  I agree that this is Leone's Second Finest Masterpiece and I have a sneaky suspicion we both share the same idea as to which was his First...

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 14/7/2010 9:11:44 PM   
Dantes Inferno


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Huge fan of this film. May be my favorite of all time (it's at least in the top 3)! I have written dozens of reviews, even posting one in the weird/strange thread.

And yes, the violence is very brutal!

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 5:26:14 PM   
rick_7


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From: The internet
quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

I agree that this is Leone's Second Finest Masterpiece and I have a sneaky suspicion we both share the same idea as to which was his First...

Is it The Colossus of Rhodes? Because it sure as hell isn't Once Upon a Time in the West...
 
*wanders off whistling*

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 5:47:44 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rick_7

quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

I agree that this is Leone's Second Finest Masterpiece and I have a sneaky suspicion we both share the same idea as to which was his First...

Is it The Colossus of Rhodes? Because it sure as hell isn't Once Upon a Time in the West...
 
*wanders off whistling*


No you didn't! You got a problem with ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Little Orphan Annie?!!

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 6:46:37 PM   
evil bill


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

Nice one
 bill!  Upon viewing this film again recently, I was also quite shocked as to how graphic the violence was for a film released in 1984. Sergio's style certainly evolved from the 'Dollars' days but there were small touches reminiscent of his early work (close-ups, minimal use of dialogue for certain scenes).  I agree that this is Leone's Second Finest Masterpiece and I have a sneaky suspicion we both share the same idea as to which was his First...

I hadn't watched it in a while,and so as you got me interested in doing a review,i re watched it,and was shocked how violent it was,and that rape scene.Just shows how much you need to watch a movie more than once/twice etc,and my pick of his classic number 1 masterpiece is as you know The Good The Bad And The Ugly.A lot of his style of camera work/visuals is stunning in both movies,but The Good... just edges out Once Upon A Time...in overall style and enjoyment,plus Ennio Morricone score for this is his finest moment.


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 7:00:54 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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quote:

ORIGINAL: evil bill

my pick of his classic number 1 masterpiece is as you know The Good The Bad And The Ugly.A lot of his style of camera work/visuals is stunning in both movies,but The Good... just edges out Once Upon A Time...in overall style and enjoyment,plus Ennio Morricone score for this is his finest moment.



ABSOLUTLEY GBU is Numero Uno, bill
 
I've been listening to a lot of Morricone scores lately, including a lot of non-Leone stuff; the music for the Monica Bellucci film MALENA, it's a beautiful, haunting & melancholy score reminiscent of AMERICA in places.
 

 
 
 

 
This is a great CD / Book which features a 'Best Of' selection from Spaghetti Westerns Morricone scored. The book contains excellent European poster images of the films. I LOVE the score for Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 7:26:50 PM   
evil bill


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

ABSOLUTLEY GBU is Numero Uno, bill
 
I've been listening to a lot of Morricone scores lately, including a lot of non-Leone stuff; the music for the Monica Bellucci film MALENA, it's a beautiful, haunting & melancholy score reminiscent of AMERICA in places.
 

 
 
 

 
This is a great CD / Book which features a 'Best Of' selection from Spaghetti Westerns Morricone scored. The book contains excellent European poster images of the films. I LOVE the score for Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE.

I'd recommend this;

It's an excellent two disc CD with some of his best music ever,from the likes of Once Upon A Time In The West/America,and The Mission plus so many others,some you'l think i've heard this before but did'nt know it was the great man himself.


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/7/2010 7:32:27 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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Nice one bill, I'll check it out.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 17/7/2010 8:11:16 PM   
MarcE


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Love this film, it really is a classic. I bought the collectors dvd when I saw it advertised when the special edition came out. I had never seen it and had seen it in a list once but had no idea what the film was about. The span across 30 years was very realistic and I actually felt sorry for how De Niro's charactor had progressed in relation to James Woods. I must give it another watch soon.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 11/8/2010 12:12:02 PM   
rick_7


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From: The internet
quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes

I've been listening to a lot of Morricone scores lately, including a lot of non-Leone stuff; the music for the Monica Bellucci film MALENA, it's a beautiful, haunting & melancholy score reminiscent of AMERICA in places.

I thought so too; I saw that film for the first time the other week. The main theme sounds quite a lot like Poverty from OUATIA. Morricone's stuff for Tornatore is all really good - especially Cinema Paradiso.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 12/8/2010 10:30:01 PM   
BobM70


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Ennio's finest hour is Once upon a Time in the West, closely followed by America.
Ennio, for me, is the best filmcomposer ever. Only one who can move me to tears...


Bob

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 14/10/2011 10:29:10 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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Elizabeth McGovern - from OUATIA to Downton Abbey - Who'd have thought it eh?


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/10/2011 2:53:06 AM   
Nexus Wookie


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Yep, gotta agree on this one; Once upon a time in America is a truly haunting, poetic masterpiece.

I saw it quite late, but that was probably a good thing because i appreciated it more as an adult. Wheras with The Godfather, it took me quite a long time to park my fidgety back side to finally watch it. While i must confess that The Godfather is my favourite out of the two, OUATIA comes mighty close.

The haunting score by Morricone is like no other, he is arguably the greatest film composer ever ( the score is so perfect i even love the Beatles song when we see De Niro at the train station). Shit, i can hear that majestic elegaic score right now!!! God! If ever one was to put a beautiful poignant poem into music, then this would be it!!!
Music for the soul!

Morricone and Leone were a match made in heaven!

I think it unfair to compare this film to The Godfather, because they're different in their own way. But you can draw similarities with The Godfather Part 2, both with the sepia toned vision of a New York teaming with immigrants.

I personally saw the film as a dream, the clue was in the ending when we see Noodles (De Niro) waking from his opium slumber, the camera pans back and we see him smiling. If so, then boy! What a dream! Also, the phone ringing at the start....

Damn! Its been too long now that i havent watched this masterpiece!! I need to make some time...

And i agree with Snake; its criminal that they havent released a REAL special edition! And i concur - the commentary is a huge let down. I too would love to have heard Sir Christopher Frayling (mans a fucking genius!!), but i think his speciiality was Spaghetti Westerns. He (Frayling) didnt appear in The Good The Bad and the Ugly too, which pissed me off spectacularly, seeing as he did a stellar job on the first two films!!!



< Message edited by Nexus Wookie -- 15/10/2011 3:08:21 AM >


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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/10/2011 9:38:34 AM   
Snake-Eyes


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie


And i agree with Snake; its criminal that they havent released a REAL special edition! And i concur - the commentary is a huge let down. I too would love to have heard Sir Christopher Frayling (mans a fucking genius!!), but i think his speciiality was Spaghetti Westerns. He (Frayling) didnt appear in The Good The Bad and the Ugly too, which pissed me off spectacularly, seeing as he did a stellar job on the first two films!!!





I have the U.S. blu-ray of GBU and Sir Frayling's commentary is there; just as good as the talk tracks he did for the first two 'Dollar' adventures.

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/10/2011 1:43:45 PM   
Nexus Wookie


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie


And i agree with Snake; its criminal that they havent released a REAL special edition! And i concur - the commentary is a huge let down. I too would love to have heard Sir Christopher Frayling (mans a fucking genius!!), but i think his speciiality was Spaghetti Westerns. He (Frayling) didnt appear in The Good The Bad and the Ugly too, which pissed me off spectacularly, seeing as he did a stellar job on the first two films!!!





I have the U.S. blu-ray of GBU and Sir Frayling's commentary is there; just as good as the talk tracks he did for the first two 'Dollar' adventures.


Really?? Thats makes me even more pissed!! Any ideas why we the UK market didnt have him on GBU??

I also listened to him on A Fistful orf Dynamite, which is another masterpiece from Leone!! Again the score by Morricone is mesmerising!! Agree?

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 15/10/2011 1:54:13 PM   
Rgirvan44


Posts: 19049
Joined: 10/3/2006
From: Punishment Park
quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie


quote:

ORIGINAL: Snake-Eyes


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie


And i agree with Snake; its criminal that they havent released a REAL special edition! And i concur - the commentary is a huge let down. I too would love to have heard Sir Christopher Frayling (mans a fucking genius!!), but i think his speciiality was Spaghetti Westerns. He (Frayling) didnt appear in The Good The Bad and the Ugly too, which pissed me off spectacularly, seeing as he did a stellar job on the first two films!!!





I have the U.S. blu-ray of GBU and Sir Frayling's commentary is there; just as good as the talk tracks he did for the first two 'Dollar' adventures.


Really?? Thats makes me even more pissed!! Any ideas why we the UK market didnt have him on GBU??

I also listened to him on A Fistful orf Dynamite, which is another masterpiece from Leone!! Again the score by Morricone is mesmerising!! Agree?


The commentary is listed on the BR I have as well.


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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 18/2/2012 9:04:35 PM   
Snake-Eyes


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Courtesy of the 'Tube - a good, insightful doc that was first aired on FilmFour back in 2000; it's in seven parts but well worth a watch. A segment of this programme showed up on the OUATIA special edition dvd -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlPdNNqzjXc

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RE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - 19/2/2012 2:27:54 PM   
Whistler


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It doesn't quite tip The Godfather for me, but I'm a huge fan. An incredible, sprawling tale of a man's life, with an achingly good central performance from De Niro and masterful direction from Leone. I'd be interested to see that five hour cut, even if it'd take some preparation, but after doing a LOTR extended cut marathon it doesn't seem too long!

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