Once Upon a Time in America 1984

Once Upon a Time in America

Critics Consensus

Sergio Leone's epic crime drama is visually stunning, stylistically bold, and emotionally haunting, and filled with great performances from the likes of Robert De Niro and James Woods.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 53

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 74,937

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Movie Info

In 1968, the elderly David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert De Niro) returns to New York, where he had a career in the criminal underground in the '20s and '30s. Most of his old friends, like longtime partner Max (James Woods), are long gone, yet he feels his past is unresolved. Told in flashbacks, the film follows Noodles from a tough kid in a Jewish slum in New York's Lower East Side, through his rise to bootlegger and then Mafia boss -- a journey marked by violence, betrayal and remorse.

Cast & Crew

Robert De Niro
David 'Noodles' Aaronson
James Woods
Maximilian 'Max' Bercovicz
Treat Williams
James Conway O'Donnell
Burt Young
Joe Minaldi
Joe Pesci
Frankie Minaldi
Danny Aiello
Police Chief Vincent Aiello
William Forsythe
Philip 'Cockeye' Stein
James Hayden
Patrick 'Patsy' Goldberg
Claudio Mancini
Executive Producer
Ennio Morricone
Original Music
Tonino Delli Colli
Cinematographer
Nino Baragli
Film Editor
Carlo Simi
Art Direction
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News & Interviews for Once Upon a Time in America

Critic Reviews for Once Upon a Time in America

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (7)

  • The movie's four hours long, but no one had the time to write a single real character.

    January 4, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This would-be epic schlep, dragging almost 50 years of chronology over a sluggish 140 minutes, is far too slight of text and ponderous of presentation to sustain more than nodding-off dramatic interest.

    May 5, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Adding 22 minutes only enhances Leone's brilliant saga of guilt and betrayal

    April 11, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Sergio Leone's languid, lovely and lengthy ode to Lower East Side mobsters (more specifically, mobster films) ...

    November 20, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Leone is less interested in arousing an audience's easier emotions than in presenting, at a dispassionate distance, the horror of two men warily walking toward each other on a tightrope suspended above the snake pit of their , deepest compulsions.

    April 12, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Every gesture is immediate, and every gesture seems eternal.

    April 12, 2011 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Once Upon a Time in America

  • Aug 28, 2020
    A big film. Jewish kids in the hardscrabble streets of the-early-twentieth-century New York grow to be Prohibition thugs, all played for nostalgic empathy. The culture is secondary to the loyalty the boys feel...until they don't feel that any longer. That's the modus operandi of the tale. Well that...and women. There's a certain elegance combined with cruelty here, an air of decadence that's seductive and repulsive that make for an interesting time at the flickers.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2019
    The lengthy running time is the movie's greatest asset. No amount of sex, violence or money can stop the inevitable decay of time and death for these characters.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 20, 2017
    21/7/2017 - Started off great, but some questionable plot choices later on ensure this gangster film falls well short of being a masterpiece.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2012
    While shooting this film, Sergio Leone wanted rain to start during a scene so he waited for god to start filming, and when he did it did rain. This is visionary piece of film making by an artist who knows what he wants to achieve, which is the unachievable scale of American social history. Leone has crafted every scene that was so distinctly storyboarded in his mind that it transfers to the screen like the fruits of the most beautiful apple tree. But every apple is rotten, infected with worms and stinking with a rich odour, but Leone captivates you so much that you want to pick every apple and check if has at least one good bite. There are no likeable characters, and some of their actions are so vile but you are engrossed in their story for the entire 4 hours run time. Without giving anything away, he takes such incredibly bold steps in narrative, only such an established and invested director could achieve. The non-linear format is marvellous, and it flows in wonderful transitions and even if you're not always up to speed you huff and puff until you catch up. That is just the way the film has been created, let alone the magnificent performances through the whole cast with Robert De Niro the mesmerizing nucleus. The only nit picks I do have is that I sometimes got lost in it's scale and characters but it just makes me want to watch it again. It is a true artistic epic cinema and is a tragic story that it was completely destroyed by producers on it's initial American release.
    Hassan V Super Reviewer

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