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Once Upon A Time In America
BLU-RAY disk
Feb 4, 2011 By: Chris Bumbray
Once Upon A Time In America order download
Director:
Sergio Leone

Actors:
Robert DeNiro
James Woods

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The saga of two Jewish-American gangsters, Noodles (Robert DeNiro) and Max (James Woods), following them from childhood, through adulthood spent running booze during Prohibition, to the betrayals of old age.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Sergio Leoneís ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA is one of a kind. A gangster tale thatís alternately epic, and intimate, it probably confused the hell out of audiences in 1984, who no doubt were expecting a kind of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY of the gangster world from Leone. Thatís not at all the film audiences would receive, and those who were lucky enough to see the close to four hour directorís cut of this film probably knew they were watching a masterpiece. Sadly, this was butchered by The Ladd Company, cutting it down to just over two hours, and doing away with the non-linear narrative.

Luckily, time has rescued ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, and itís now rightfully regarded as one of a kind. Sadly, it was Leoneís final film- but he went out on a masterpiece. I adore this film, and it remains not only one of Robert DeNiroís finest films, but also the career highlight of James Woods, who sadly, has never really been able to equal his performance here in recent years.

Despite the four hour running time, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA never drags, despite being somewhat light on carnage. Itís just such a beautifully crafted story of betrayal and friendship that is one of the few films that youíll feel like you could just go on watching forever.

One of the things I always found interesting about it was the way Robert DeNiroís character can be a total SOB at times. Having spent most of his young life in jail, heís ill at ease with women. Early in the film, he casually rapes a bank teller- and later, he rapes the woman of his dreams, played by Elizabeth McGovern (and by a 14 year old Jennifer Connelly as a youngster), forever ruining whatever chance he had with her. One thingís for sure- ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA would never get made by a mainstream studio nowadays, which is a sad state indeed.
THE EXTRAS
Not much here, either than a trailer , and an excerpt from a documentary on Leone, that runs just under half hour. This is a fascinating except, but dammit- the whole thing should have been here! We also get a commentary track by Richard Schiekel.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Unless you own the previous two-disc special edition, this is a no-brainer. If you do own that edition, the only thing that really would demand an upgrade is the marginally improved transfer, and the fact that you can watch the whole film uninterrupted on one disc.
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