Review of Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Moving picture, 3.8 hours

Seen in 2017.

Crime. Harry Grey’s memories were already coloured by Hollywood when he wrote his book. Leone sent his many writers to Grey to work up a treatment that gradually wore off the rest of reality. When Leone finally shot it, it had become little more than a tribute to star power and nostalgic simplification, with a delusional pretension to describe some essence of the USA, hence the title. Even as such, it’s still very good. Ironically, it was Hollywood that butchered it in the editing room. The original plan would have made a fine mini-series, perhaps 6 episodes, except for the misogyny. Jennifer Connelly does some of the best acting in the film. It is absurd to see the adult and elderly versions of her character played by the baby-faced Elizabeth McGovern, barely in her 20s. At least that character bears some ill will over rape, for a little while. Carol’s all for it.

moving picture fiction