🎥 Once Upon A Time In America – 1984
The Story …
In 1933, three thugs search for a man named “Noodles”, torturing people for information.
They enter a wayang theatre, where the proprietors slip into a hidden opium den within the building and warn Noodles. He is apathetic, drugged and grasping a newspaper featuring the demise of bootleggers Patrick Goldberg, Philip Stein and Maximilian Bercovicz.
He recalls observing police removing their corpses, Max’s burned beyond recognition.
Noodles evades capture and leaves the city alone and penniless …
In 1918, David “Noodles” Aaronson and his friends “Patsy” Goldberg, “Cockeye” Stein and Dominic struggle as street kids in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, committing petty crimes for local boss Bugsy.
Max foils one of their robberies but has the booty stolen from him by a corrupt police officer, Whitey. Later, they blackmail the officer, catching him having sex with Peggy, an underage prostitute, and the five youngsters start a gang with the same level of police protection as Bugsy. Max and Noodles become best friends.
The group rises through the ranks after implementing Noodles’s idea to hide bootleg liquor. They stash half their earnings in a railway station locker, giving the key to “Fat Moe,” a friend not directly involved in their activities.
Noodles is in love with Moe’s sister, Deborah, who dreams of becoming a dancer and actress. Bugsy, now a rival, eventually ambushes the boys and shoots little Dominic, who dies in Noodles’s arms. In a fit of rage, young Noodles kills Bugsy and injures a police officer and is sentenced to prison.
Noodles is released in 1930 and rejoins his friends, now prosperous bootleggers during Prohibition. His first job with them is a diamond heist using a jewellery employee and occasional prostitute named Carol as their informant. During the robbery, Carol goads Noodles into hitting her, after which he rapes her; she later goes on to become Max’s moll. That the job had been commissioned by a Syndicate figure to eliminate the competition sits badly with Noodles who, unlike Max, dislikes hierarchy and lacks political ambition. The gang provides protection for Teamsters’ union boss Jimmy O’Donnell, but Noodles later rejects Max’s plan to deepen those ties.
Seeking to form a genuine intimacy with Deborah, Noodles takes her on a lavish date, where she reveals her plans to pursue a career in Hollywood. On their drive back, a frustrated Noodles rapes her in the limousine. He is later met with Deborah’s aloofness when he watches her board the train to California.
The gang’s success ends with the 1933 repeal of Prohibition. Max suggests a New York Federal Reserve Bank heist, which Noodles and Carol deem a suicide mission. Carol convinces Noodles to inform the police about a lesser offence, hoping brief incarceration will cool off Max’s ambition. After Noodles calls the police, Max knocks him out during a seemingly impromptu argument. This leads to the events shown in the prologue: upon regaining consciousness and learning that Max, Patsy, and Cockeye have been killed by the police, a guilt-ridden Noodles hides in the opium den. He saves Moe but finds out that his new girlfriend Eve has been murdered and the railway locker money has disappeared. With his gang killed and himself hunted by Syndicate thugs, Noodles settles in Buffalo under an alias.
In 1968, Noodles is belatedly informed that the Beth Israel Cemetery is being redeveloped and is asked to rebury any loved ones. Upon inquiry, the rabbi who had sent the letter informs him that the bodies of his three dead friends have since been relocated to Riverdale. Realizing that someone has deduced his identity, Noodles returns to Manhattan and stays with Moe. Inside the Riverdale mausoleum, Noodles finds a key to the railway locker. The caption on the commemorative plaque falsely states that the mausoleum was erected by Noodles himself.
The locker reveals a suitcase full of money and a note stating this is a down payment on his next job. Noodles watches news of an assassination attempt on controversial U.S. Secretary of Commerce Christopher Bailey. The report shows Jimmy O’Donnell, still a Teamsters boss, distancing himself from the Bailey corruption scandal. Noodles finds Carol in a retirement home run by the Bailey Foundation. She tells him that Max manipulated them into tipping him off to the police and opened fire first, wishing to die young rather than in an insane asylum like his father.
After spotting her in the retirement home’s dedication photo, Noodles tracks down Deborah, still an actress.[a] He tells her about his invitation to a party at Bailey’s mansion. Deborah admits to being Bailey’s lover and begs Noodles to leave before he is confronted with hurtful revelations. Ignoring Deborah’s advice, Noodles sees Bailey’s son just outside, who evidently looks like a younger Max.
At the party, Noodles meets Bailey, who reveals he is actually Max and that he faked his death with the help of the police and Syndicate, stole the gang’s money and reinvented himself as a self-made, Teamsters-connected politician. He confirms that he made Deborah his mistress years earlier. Faced with ruin and the spectre of a Teamster assassination, Max reveals the job he has for Noodles is to kill him. Noodles, obstinately referring to him by his Bailey identity, refuses, explaining that in his eyes, Max died with the gang. As Noodles leaves the estate, a garbage truck starts up and a man, presumably Max, walks from the entrance toward Noodles until the truck passes between them. Noodles sees the truck’s auger conveyor grinding garbage, but the man is nowhere to be seen.
In 1933, Noodles enters the opium den after his friends’ deaths, taking the drug and broadly grinning …
- Directed by Sergio Leone
Screenplay by Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini and Sergio Leone
- Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey
- Produced by Arnon Milchan
- Cinematography : Tonino Delli Colli
- Edited by Nino Baragli
- Music by Ennio Morricone
- Production Companies : The Ladd Company, PSO International, Embassy International Pictures and Rafran Cinematografica
- Distributed by Warner Bros, Titanus (Italy)
- Release Dates : May 23, 1984
- Robert De Niro as Noodles
- Scott Tiler as Young Noodles
- James Woods as Maximilian ‘Max’ Bercovicz
- Rusty Jacobs as Young Max/David Bailey
- Elizabeth McGovern as Deborah Gelly
- Jennifer Connelly as Young Deborah
- Joe Pesci as Francis ‘Frankie’ Monaldi
- Burt Young as Joe Monaldi
- Tuesday Weld as Carol
- Treat Williams as Jimmy Conway O’Donnell
- Danny Aiello as Police Chief Aiello
- Richard Bright as Chicken Joe
- James Hayden as Patrick ‘Patsy’ Goldberg
- Brian Bloom as Young Patsy
- William Forsythe as Philip ‘Cockeye’ Stein
- Adrian Curran as Young Cockeye
- Darlanne Fluegel as Eve
- Larry Rapp as ‘Fat’ Moe Gelly
- Mike Monetti as Young Fat Moe
- Richard Foronjy as Officer ‘Fartface’ Whitey
- Robert Harper as Sharkey
- Dutch Miller as Van Linden
- Gerard Murphy as Crowning
- Amy Ryder as Peggy
- Julie Cohen as Young Peggy
- Estelle Harris as Peggy’s mother
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