Perhaps expectation ruined this film for me. I often heard it matched the "Godfather", and some even say it's superior. I was expecting to be blown away, to not notice it's hefty length, to be kept guessing and to be stunned by it's cast. I was stunned by De Niro and Woods, to be fair. I was left disappointed by the rest of the film. It is unnecessarily long, its plot is bland and predictable, and I was left with a feeling of utter indifference to every character. Unfortunately rather average.
Just a few flaws: I'm not a fan of Tiler's rendition of Noodles, which always struck me as vacant and devoid of the subtle nuance De Niro brought to the role. I also thought McGovern was too ice-cold as Deborah; she lacked the repressed passion that made Connelly so charming. With better actors in their stead, this film would be up there with the Godfather series. Still, it's a personal favorite.
Leone breaks away from the western genre to direct this crime film masterpiece. The cinematography is stunning, the pacing is ace, and the cast provides more solid performances than you can shake a stick at. Coupled with an absolutely mesmerizing score from Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America makes four hours of film fly by.
If only Noodles were a tad more sympathetic, I would not hesitate to give this a 100. It's one of the most intricately crafted and ambitious films ever conceived; the set designs and recreation of New York at three historic points in the early 20th century are breathtaking.
Incredible film. At nearly 4 hours you would expect it to be boring but it never is, in fact the time passes by very quickly. Regret has never been done better before and I love all the themes that Leone touched on. That ending was great, almost started applauding, you could interpret it a million different ways. Cinematography is incredible and to the people that complain about the misogyny: do you not realize it was set in the 1930's? And ps, the men aren't exactly saints either.
Once upon a time in America is a genius piece in a line of other great movies from Leone. Leone spends a lot more time on character developement than in his previous movies. The atmosphere he created in combination with the music of Morricone is captivating. The brilliance of this movie made me wonder what Leone could have done if he didnt die so soon.