Once Upon a Time in America


Release Date 1984-02-17
Age Rating

Once Upon a Time in America

Once Upon a Time in America is a 1984 Italian epic crime drama film co-written and directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. It chronicles the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence in New York City's world of organized crime. The film explores themes of childhood friendships, love, lust, greed, betrayal, loss, broken relationships, and the rise of mobsters in American society. Leone adapted the story from the novel The Hoods, written by Harry Grey, while filming Once Upon a Time in the West. The film went through casting changes and production issues before filming began in 1982. The original film by the director was 269 minutes long, but when the film premièred out of competition at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, Leone had cut it to 229 minutes to appease the distributors. This was the version shown in European cinemas. However, for the US release on June 1, 1984, Once Upon a Time in America was edited further to 139 minutes by the studio, against the director's wishes. In this shorter version, the flashback narrative was changed, by re-editing the scenes in chronological order. Leone was reportedly heartbroken by the American cut, and never made another film before his death in 1989.

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Actors & Characters

Robert De Niro Robert De Niro David "Noodles" Aaronson David "Noodles" Aaronson
James Woods James Woods Maximilian 'Max' Bercovicz Maximilian 'Max' Bercovicz
Elizabeth McGovern Elizabeth McGovern Deborah Gelly Deborah Gelly
Burt Young Burt Young Joe Joe
Tuesday Weld Tuesday Weld Carol Carol
Jennifer Connelly Jennifer Connelly Deborah Gelly Deborah Gelly
Joe Pesci Joe Pesci Frankie Manoldi Frankie Manoldi
Treat Williams Treat Williams James Conway O'Donnell James Conway O'Donnell
Darlanne Fluegel Darlanne Fluegel Eve Eve
Danny Aiello Danny Aiello Police Chief Vincent Aiello Police Chief Vincent Aiello


Tonino Delli Colli Cinematography
Sergio Leone Director
Nino Baragli Editor
Ennio Morricone Music
Arnon Milchan Producer
Sergio Leone Writer
Franco Ferrini Writer
Leonardo Benvenuti Writer
Franco Arcalli Writer
Enrico Medioli Writer
Piero De Bernardi Writer
Stuart M. Kaminsky Writer
Ernesto Gastaldi Writer