Once Upon a Time in America (Italian title C’era una volta in America) is a 1984 epic crime film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. The story 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, loss, greed, violence, the passage of time, broken relationships, and the appearance of mobsters in American society.
The film premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival in its original running time of 229 minutes (3 hours 49 minutes). However, it was released in the United States in a heavily edited and truncated version almost ninety minutes shorter than the original version released in Europe, against Leone’s wishes. The short version eliminates the elaborate flashback structure of the film, instead placing all of the scenes in chronological order.
Plot: 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.
* David “Noodles” Aaronson – Robert De Niro, Scott Tiler
* Maximilian “Max” – James Woods
* Deborah Gelly – Elizabeth McGovern, Jennifer Connelly
* Patrick “Patsy” Goldberg – James Hayden (young man), Brian Bloom
* Philip “Cockeye” Stein – William Forsythe (young man), Adrian Currie
* Carol – Tuesday Weld (young/older woman)
* Moe “Fats” Gelly – Larry Rapp (young/older man)
* Frankie Minaldi – Joe Pesci
* James Conway O’Donnell – Treat Williams
* Bugsy – James Russo
* Joe Minaldi – Burt Young
* Chief Vincent Aiello – Danny Aiello
* Dominic – Noah Mozelli