8.4/10
247,277
527 user 113 critic

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R | | Crime, Drama | 1 June 1984 (USA)
A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 6 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
805 ( 85)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #70 | Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
Raging Bull (1980)
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
Taxi Driver (1976)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
Casino (1995)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè
Goodfellas (1990)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
Heat (1995)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist, while both sides attempt to find balance between their personal and their professional lives.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
Scarface (1983)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Joe
...
...
...
...
James Hayden ...
...
...
Eve (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Larry Rapp ...
Richard Foronjy ...
Officer 'Fartface' Whitey (as Richard Foronji)
...
Edit

Storyline

Epic tale of a group of Jewish gangsters in New York, from childhood, through their glory years during prohibition, and their meeting again 35 years later. Written by Andrew Welsh <andreww@bnr.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sergio Leone's three-hour, forty-minute epic masterpiece starring Robert de Niro. [Australia Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, sexual content, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

1 June 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in America  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,412,014, 3 June 1984, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$5,321,508
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-cut) | (extended director's cut) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This was Jennifer Connelly's first feature film role at the age of eleven. See more »

Goofs

When Max and Noodles are on the beach, Noodles' girlfriend lays a newspaper across his face. When the wind blows, you can see duplicate pages, revealing that it's a fake newspaper. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[In 1933, two goons rudely question a young woman]
Beefy: Where is he? Where's he hiding?
Eve: I don't know... I've been looking for him since yesterday.
[second goon slaps her harshly; she falls onto the bed]
Beefy: I'm gonna ask you for the last time: Where is he?
Eve: I don't know... What are you gonna do to him?
[Two shots are heard]
Beefy: [to his partner] Stay here in case that rat shows up...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Joey Faye is credited as the "adorable old man." See more »

Connections

Referenced in End Roll (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Night and Day
Words and Music by Cole Porter
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
There's a lot of good reasons this movie bombed
4 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

I'm familiar with most of the great gangster movies that have come out, but I've never heard of this title until recently. Well, I found why I've never heard of it -- the film is long, boring and disappointing. Somewhere in there is an interesting story, but "Once Upon a Time in America" does not tell that story.

Basically, with flashbacks occurring here and there, the movie follows a group of kids in their journey from young hoods to adult hoods. However, "Once Upon a Time in America" is too long, too disjointed, the story is not compelling, and the acting in the early parts of the film is atrocious (especially the child actors). A large part of the problem with the movie is Sergio Leone's directing style. Leone loves long stares and glances and wide panoramic shots, and unlike in his westerns, this style simply does not work here. In Leone's westerns these long sequences effectively built up tension while here they are just boring cinematic filler.

It seems that Leone lost objectivity in editing because a lot of scenes drag on unnecessarily, making the nearly 4 hour running time seem twice as long. In the first hour alone there's more than 5 minutes devoted to a scene of a 12-13 year old girl dancing ballet while a young Noodles (the main character) secretly watches. Did this really need to be 5 minutes? The point is made in the first minute -- she's a beautiful young girl and Noodles is in love with here. Why stretch it out for another 4 minutes? There's no point to it unless you like watching young girls ballet dance.

Soon afterward we're treated to a another 4-5 minute scene of a little kid eating pastry while melodramatic music gushes in like its some sort of pivotal scene. It boggles the mind why stuff like this was not edited down -- it doesn't move the story, its not cinematic and its not even acting, its 4-5 minutes of a kid eating cake.

Lastly, whereas a movie like "The Godfather" comes across as realistic and believable, "Once Upon a Time in America" while ostensibly gritty and realistic is anything but. Certain events in the story are completely unbelievable and hard to view as anything but fiction, which is not an asset when you are making a hard, gritty gangster movie.

If you like long 4 hour movies I guess this is for you, but to anyone else I would say that there's a good reason this movie has largely been forgotten, so proceed at your own risk.


69 of 91 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 527 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Best of 2017: Our Favorite Movie and TV Stills

Take a look at our favorite movie and TV stills from the past year. Spot any of your faves?

Browse the Best of 2017