It's about bloody time Warners released Sergio Leone s classic American gangster movie Once Upon a Time In America on Blu-ray. This is the full-length European verson and not the linear and much shorter 139-minute American theatrical release. Once Upon a Time in America is one of those love it or hate it films. Here, it is a love it.
There are those who believe The Godfather, especially The Godfather II, and Goodfellas are the definitive movies about the Mafia and American gangsters. There is certainly something to be said for those two classics. There should also be room made for Leone's Once Upon a Time in America.
This is a much more complex story and Leone is in full control of his directorial skills making for many elements film buffs will really enjoy looking at in detail such as the way he segues from scenes and to and from periods. There is also the idea, brought up by film historian Richard Schickel in the commentary track that the whole movie is but an opium dream -not that I buy the idea but it is interesting.
Once Upon a Time in America tells the story of five New York Jews who become gangster before and during prohibition. De Niro plays Noodles, Woods is Max, Elizabeth McGovern is the girl Noodles has always had a thing for. The movie opens with gangsters looking for Noodles and Noodles leaving town only to come back a second and thirty years later. The movie flashes back and forth telling the story of how Noodles and Max got a gang together and Noodles looking up his past to figure out who has summoned him back to New York City.
This is much more complex story than The Godfather or Goodfellas and the story is also not as evident.
This is a movie well worth watching though even fans can only managed to do so about once a year.
Once Upon a Time In America looks really good on Blu-ray but special features are limited to a commentary track and part of a Making Of.