Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: Sanjuro on July 15, 2003, 03:23:09 AM

Title: Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: Sanjuro on July 15, 2003, 03:23:09 AM
Ever since I bought the special edition DVD of "Once Upon a Time in America," I repeated watching it and each viewing made me realize what a haunting movie this is. I don't know any other movie that has this magnitude and depth of emotion like this masterpiece.

On the other hand, the more I see this, the more problem I find I have with the character of Noodles.  The guy is the hero of this film, but is this guy likeable at all?

He rapes the woman of his life-time romance. That's understandable within the context of this drama. That is the only way he can express his dilemma toward his impossible love. The guy has a problem of expressing love. Afterward, he is attacked by his sense of guilt. We can see his conscience there.

But look at his attitude toward Fat Moe. After he kills his assassin at Moe's place, he doesn't even untie Moe even though Moe asks him to do so. Instead, Noodles just leaves Moe lying in blood saying "Stay like this."

35 years later, Noodles visits Moe. Moe gets very emotional when he sees Noodles. But as Moe tries to give Nooles a warm hug, Noodles coldly hands him  a key.

Nooldes is, in fact, a victim in a way. His life is stolen. He is betrayed (contrary to the fact he thinks he is the betrayer). He is rather passive while Max takes initiative.

But all in all, is Noodles a character we can have compassion? Why do we care about him?



 
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 15, 2003, 03:33:58 AM
First:he leaves Moe on the floor in order to save his life (he says something like: if u stay tied, nobody will sucpect you).
Noodles is the hero of the story that is told by his eyes, we only have is point of view, he is a good guy who have difficultues with his parents (the old man reads the torah and his mother is crying), he is seeking for a father (MAX?).
Noodles is the victim of the events of that movie by not taking any reel decisions execpt one: Betraying his friend and finally he didn't.
and the good point: Noodles is played by Robert De Niro...
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: Jon on July 15, 2003, 12:54:42 PM
Noodles is kind of like the ultimate patsy or victim,and regardless of the brutality of some of his acts it is impossible not to feel ,even in a little way,for a guy like that.Noodles is the ultimate loser.The sad thing is that he is his own worst enemy.Leone once said a very contreversial thing,that Noodles' rape of Deborah of Deborah was 'an act of love'.It is easy to see how this could offend some people but from Noodles' point of view it was.You see Deborah kiss Noodles.he misinterprits it [like he misinterprits lots of the events of his life]and than can't stop himself.Don't forget that none of his previous sexual encounters seemed to be that pleasent and 'loving'.

There is no doubt that we do lose a bit of sympathy for Noodles here,especially on a first showing of the film.But i think on repeated viewings he becomes more 'likable',although much of this is out of pity of course.He is like the ultimate,anti-hero.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 15, 2003, 01:49:06 PM
I don't think that we loose sympathy for noodles when he rapped Debra, but we think " Hey Man don't do that, don't do that to the only true love you have because if u do so, you will lost her for ever, and that's what happened
I do agree with Jon, Noodles is his worst ennemy he has.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: JimmyCleanHands on July 16, 2003, 02:14:31 AM
I actually like Max better than Noodles. I feel Max was a genious , he plotted and planned all of those events which shaped Noodles' downfall. Smart man . Screwed Noodles in the beginiing , and screwed him in the end  ;)
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: guybrush on July 16, 2003, 02:58:26 AM
I actually like Max better than Noodles. I feel Max was a genious , he plotted and planned all of those events which shaped Noodles' downfall. Smart man . Screwed Noodles in the beginiing , and screwed him in the end  ;)
Does that mean you would have done the same, had you been in Max's shoes?
Does that mean you would be ready to screw your best friend, steal his woman and 35 years of his life, like Max did?

Would you please keep us constantly informed about your whereabouts, so as to enable us to stay at least 100 km away?  
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: poppyseed on July 19, 2003, 07:19:09 PM
I don't think that we loose sympathy for noodles when he rapped Debra, but we think " Hey Man don't do that, don't do that to the only true love you have because if u do so, you will lost her for ever, and that's what happened
I do agree with Jon, Noodles is his worst ennemy he has.

Surely the above is a joke or something? What a f*cked up way to look at rape -  that the only reason he shouldn't rape her because he'll lose her. All about the effect it will have on him rather than the effect it will have on her. No, I don't think that he shouldn't rape her because he'll lose her forever. I just think he shouldn't rape her because rape is an evil, evil, evil thing to do. Oh and you said "we" don't lose sympathy for him when he rapes her. Count me out of that "we" please.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: ChochHolla on July 19, 2003, 09:02:08 PM
Quote
What a f*cked up way to look at rape

Maybe so, it is still a film tho. Because murder is just as bad, no one complaining about our views on that 'minor crime'.  BUT i must say, throughout the rape scene i was hoping that she would suddenly thrust from refusal to unbridalled passion, but when it didnt happen... awkwardly enough, it seemed the innocence of his character was born. What do you think?

We care about Noodles as we would anyone who is tormented. A person within an emotional Bermuda triangle of an animalistic love life, a paracytic friendship with Max, and his void of his own feelings. IMHO, that is.  
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 20, 2003, 02:29:29 AM
Surely the above is a joke or something? What a f*cked up way to look at rape -  that the only reason he shouldn't rape her because he'll lose her. All about the effect it will have on him rather than the effect it will have on her. No, I don't think that he shouldn't rape her because he'll lose her forever. I just think he shouldn't rape her because rape is an evil, evil, evil thing to do. Oh and you said "we" don't lose sympathy for him when he rapes her. Count me out of that "we" please.  


Hey keep cool, OUATIA has Noodles for Hero, and that the only point of view we have, so I did not say that the rape was a good thing! neither when he kills people but in this genre of movie you have to do with this.

ANd AS noodlse POV, he dosen(t know to show his feelings (either to MAx or Debra) so he acts like an animal and Rape Debra, but I Think (you exclude) that everybody sais : don't do that Noodles, your loosing the love of your life if you are in the movie, if you feel like noodles...and nobody thinks "that is Evil" because everythinh is evil in the movie, Peggy the hore is evil, MAx/Secretary Bailey is Evil...and the worse of all...
so I suggest to watch only PG movie from Disney ( ;)

Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: BDR529 on July 21, 2003, 01:39:25 AM
Because murder is just as bad, no one complaining about our views on that 'minor crime'.  

That's the way I've always thought of it.  It always boggles my mind how people will have no problem with a dozen or more murders in a film but will reply to a rape with outrage and cries of "was that really necessary?".  Rape is repugnant and evil, and so is murder, but we're used to seeing the latter in films and not so much the former.  Did we lose sympathy with Noodles when he stabbed Bugsy to death?  How about the mob hits he pulled with Max and the gang?  How about if instead of stabbing Bugsy for revenge, he tied him down and ass-raped him?
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: ChochHolla on July 21, 2003, 08:29:01 AM
Quote
How about if instead of stabbing Bugsy for revenge, he tied him down and ass-raped him?

lmao... I am not sure if I was expecting you to go that direction, but point WELL taken.  ;D
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: Jon on July 21, 2003, 08:30:32 AM
I think the reason some people object to rape and not to murder is that rape is something the victim has to live with,and it can screw that person up for the rest of their life,I KNOW somebody who was raped and that person will have to live with the memory for the rest of their life.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 21, 2003, 08:36:00 AM
Yes, sure But in OUATIA, we live Noodles 's Life, not Debra as we can see Noddles hates him for what he did, he tries to apologize at the railwaystation...
and furthermore in the 68' part Debra has her revenge: she lives with Max, and raise his son...
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: BDR529 on July 21, 2003, 12:27:23 PM
I think the reason some people object to rape and not to murder is that rape is something the victim has to live with,and it can screw that person up for the rest of their life,I KNOW somebody who was raped and that person will have to live with the memory for the rest of their life.

That's very true, but seems to me like a flimsy reason to say it's more objectionable than murder.  You could also say, "at least the rape victim's whole life is not taken away from them, and they are allowed to live on and hopefully heal".  Like Clint said, "It's a helluva thing, killing a man; you take away all that he's got and all that he'll ever have."
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: poppyseed on July 24, 2003, 08:22:53 AM
cedet wrote: "so I suggest to watch only PG movie from Disney"

BDR529: "It always boggles my mind how people will have no problem with a dozen or more murders in a film but will reply to a rape with outrage and cries of "was that really necessary?"

You are both missing the point I made. The point I was making was that cedet was seeing the rape purely in terms of the bad effect it was to have on the man rather than the woman, which I found very strange. I think most human beings, when confronted by a rape scene would be feeling for the victim, the woman, before worrying about the effect it will have on the rapist. cedet obviously sees it differently and is entitled to, and I'm entitled to say I think that's a warped sense of priority.

And BDR529, I never said ""was that really necessary?" in terms of that scene, neither did anyone else on this thread.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 24, 2003, 08:29:28 AM
You are both missing the point I made. The point I was making was that cedet was seeing the rape purely in terms of the bad effect it was to have on the man rather than the woman, which I found very strange. I think most human beings, when confronted by a rape scene would be feeling for the victim, the woman, before worrying about the effect it will have on the rapist. cedet obviously sees it differently and is entitled to, and I'm entitled to say I think that's a warped sense of priority.

I see only the effetcs it produce on Noodles because that's the one we follow, we care about Debra as as supporting role...only Noodles feelings are important in that scene.
just like in the scene at the station, we feel "Noodles too late, she's gone and wont talk to you" not "The bad rappist is here Debra"....and anyway he pays for that rappe in 68' (or dream) when he learns that she betrayed him with Max and take care of his(her?) child...
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: Sanjuro on July 24, 2003, 12:42:27 PM
When Deborah is raped by Noodles, we don't feel for her? I don't think that's true. We can feel her fear and pain as we feel Noodle's  dilemma at the same time. And I don't think Deborah becomes a lover of Max to take her revenge on Noodles.

But those are besides the point. The question here is, why do we still care about Noodles in spite of his antiheroic character. He is a bad kid, rapes two women and is cold to his old freind, Fat Moe. Don't you think it's a big question how we can relate to a character like that as a hero of a drama? I hope somebody can answer to this question.    
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: poppyseed on July 25, 2003, 04:48:43 AM
I agree with you Sanjuro. Of COURSE any right-minded human being feels for Deborah in that scene. And of COURSE we think Noodles should stop NOT because of the effect his rape will have on him but ONE HUNDRED PER CENT that he should stop because of the effect it will have on Deborah.

Similarly, we don't fall for this crap about 'Noodles pays for it' because she goes off with Max. What a ridiculous thing to say. Does that really even begin to make him pay for raping someone? No it doesn't.

I can only assume that some of these posts have been jokes because they display some horrendous attitudes to rape. If not, I suggest certain people take a long look at themselves.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 25, 2003, 06:59:33 AM
Similarly, we don't fall for this crap about 'Noodles pays for it' because she goes off with Max. What a ridiculous thing to say. Does that really even begin to make him pay for raping someone? No it doesn't.

IT does in certain ways for Noodles. the HERO of OUATIA is NOODLES, we fear for Him, Debra is the love of his life, we'are sad that the love affair didn't work and after all Noodles deserved what happened but that's all...Debra isn't a sympathic character just like Max...
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: BDR529 on July 26, 2003, 01:21:11 AM
cedet wrote: "so I suggest to watch only PG movie from Disney"

BDR529: "It always boggles my mind how people will have no problem with a dozen or more murders in a film but will reply to a rape with outrage and cries of "was that really necessary?"

You are both missing the point I made. The point I was making was that cedet was seeing the rape purely in terms of the bad effect it was to have on the man rather than the woman, which I found very strange. I think most human beings, when confronted by a rape scene would be feeling for the victim, the woman, before worrying about the effect it will have on the rapist. cedet obviously sees it differently and is entitled to, and I'm entitled to say I think that's a warped sense of priority.

And BDR529, I never said ""was that really necessary?" in terms of that scene, neither did anyone else on this thread.


Sorry about the misunderstanding.  I wasn't directly quoting; I was talking about an attitude I've seen in threads on this board and others, and in conversation (about this specific scene and others in other films).  I thought I was seeing the same attitude here, maybe I was wrong.  Anyway, maybe cedet was using "sympathetic" in a more "cinematic" sense--that is, we continue to identify with him as our connection to the film; as the protagonist.  There are plenty of sympathetic characters in films that are still very unlikable, in my opinion, and vice versa!  Or maybe that's not what he meant.  But it certainly didn't seem to me like he was excusing the rape.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: cedet on July 26, 2003, 02:06:50 AM
I am not excusing the rape, at any moments, I just say that Only noodles feelings interests Us, the rape is only one "fatal mistake", and anyway, Leone un-dramatized the sex relation in OUATIA .
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: Debby-2000 on November 17, 2003, 10:08:50 AM
We don't care about Noodles, that fool. But it's fun to watch his tragic and deserved downfall. He deserves every inch he gets, including Max's and Sergio's brilliant tricks.

He is the Barton Fink of the gangster era.

In OUATITW Leone gave us a man who devoted all of his life to revenge.

In OUATIA Leone gave us a man, who lives all of his life in fear of being hit by revenge, and who even erects a mausoleum for the guys whose death he was partly responsible for. And in the end it turns out that the two people he loved concurred to ditch him straight and open, and he never suspected. And he was ditched so deservedly that revenge was not an option, not even to him.

Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: General Sibley on November 17, 2003, 12:03:09 PM
Oh, I wouldn't say we don't care about Noodles.  Even though his behavior is depraved, he has some redeeming qualities that make you care for him and even root for him.  Even after the rape scene, he gives that sheepish look of remorse that makes you realize that he realizes that he once again let his bestial side take over - to his infinite regret.

Even when he betrays his friends he does it from good intentions - he'd rather see them in jail than dead, so he makes what he thinks is the best decision in those circumstances.

That's one of the main themes of this movie, if you look at it as a continuum of Leone's work.  This is a harsh and brutal country that requires an equally brutal response by the humans who fight to survive in it.  And if you want to get ahead you have to resort to whatever means necessary.  So these men of ambition make these harsh decisions to lead their lives in a brutal manner to make it in this country, and they pay the price with their humanity.  

But maybe they do have some redeeming qualities.  Even Max has a human side, where he realizes his end is coming and suddenly starts trying to make amends for his sins.  That's where Burt Young's character fits in - yeah, our guys are nasty pieces of work but compared to that scumbag they're saints.
Title: Re:Why do we care about Noodles?
Post by: James C Gutierrez on November 29, 2003, 07:48:18 PM
Sanjuro asked

"But those are besides the point. The question here is, why do we still care about Noodles in spite of his antiheroic character. He is a bad kid, rapes two women and is cold to his old freind, Fat Moe. Don't you think it's a big question how we can relate to a character like that as a hero of a drama? I hope somebody can answer to this question."


Why do we still continue to care? Because we've always cared, we still feel for him. Bad kid? Not all bad. Look how he throws his life on the line when Dominic goes down, and how he takes the rap without complaining. He's a rude street kid but not without likeability and promise,  Debra sees that in him, and also a sensitive side , which may actually be his tragic flaw...and not all that sensitive in a good way: his touchiness gets him into lots of trouble . Passiveness, dreaminess, bottled up anger all get muddled up inside him, and manifest in weird, inappropriate self-destructive ways after a certain point in his story...probably when he emerges from Jail,  and finds himself -for not the last time in his life- the man who got left behind. Before prison, Noodles was the brains and brawn of the operation as much as Max. Now he's been supplanted, and can only stir his drink over and over to express his dissatisfaction,  sneak a phone call to "bring back the good old days" for Max'es "own good" out of very mixed motivations including revenge, and then let the phone ring and ring  in his ears accusinlg him ever after, unable to face what and who is on the other end, and what he is himself.

We're caught in his unresolvable inner state: good guy or bad guy, he doesn't know for sure, and the amends he tries to make in the flash forward may only be a dream. Even if it is nothing but a fantasy (there's no definitive yes/no to this possibility the way the film got edited), though,  that future Leone imagines for Noodles shows us a very human character we can't help but feel for. The way De Niro plays him is very close to the vest, a sensitive but very tough guy. He's cold to Moe because he doesn't respond comfortably to affection, a very private closed-off individual. That doesn't make him unaffectionate.however, just incapable of showing love. When he tries to with Debra, he shockingly shows all the hate thats in him, as well, the street kid's curse, the stain on his soul, the only "positive" way he can react to anything is the gangster's way, to kill it, and that's what he does to Debra's affection...