Once Upon a Time in America
Dir. Sergio Leone. 1984, 251 mins., plus intermission. DCP. With Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern. Sergio Leone’s ten-years-in-the-making masterwork does for the gangster film what his visionary spaghetti westerns did for the horse opera, brilliantly reimagining the genre as a vehicle for limitless stylistic expression. Magnificently recreating the look and feel of Prohibition-era New York City, it chronicles five decades in the life of Robert De Niro’s David “Noodles” Aaronson, who goes from Lower East Side slum kid to bootlegging mobster to old man reflecting on his criminal past. Leone’s coup is an intricate flashback structure which lends this epic rise-and-fall saga a hauntingly elegiac undercurrent. The score is by the great Ennio Morricone.
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