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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

USA, 1983 (MIFF 1997, Spaghetti al Leone)

Director: Sergio Leone

Leone's final masterpiece, a stylistically bold gangster epic spanning five decades of this century, features De Niro and James Woods as childhood pals and aspiring mobsters who fol­low divergent paths as adult racketeers. The film is told via a complex narrative structure which moves lyrically between various time periods and flashbacks within flashbacks. The ambitious project had been in development since 1971 but was held up by numerous script rewrites, financ­ing difficulties and problems over rights to the source book, The Hoods by Harry Grey (Harry Goldberg), the largely autobiographical reminis­cences of a retired mob killer.

The full-length version which will be shown in the Festival premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and subsequently played theatrically in major European territories and Australia. But for its American release the film was cut by 82 min­utes and re-arranged into a roughly chronological structure that deleted the many plot transitions and robbed the original of its poetic intensity.

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

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