Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: shades on October 11, 2007, 06:12:52 AM



Title: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: shades on October 11, 2007, 06:12:52 AM
PART I

There's been some discussion on other boards about implausible events in Once Upon A Time In America, missing details and parts which some viewers find puzzling.  I appreciate that much of this is not new to this board but information which guests to the board may find helpful is widely dispersed over many threads and an extended time scale. It may be an appropriate time to put a few thoughts and facts in a summary, roughly in the order in which they appear in the movie.

Background

Sergio Leone wanted to make this film for many years after first reading the book the Hoods by Harry Grey.  Harry Grey (changed name) was a real gangster and the book is an autobiography of his early life.  Grey has subsequently stated that the only thing he exaggerated in the book was Max's death - Max did not die - they were still friends in later life.

Leone did not want to make a simple transfer of the book into a documentary type film but there were elements in the book which fascinated him.  Leone wanted to make a very special film - it's a story of love, betrayal and guilt and also echoes what happens to gangsters who live to an old age - a bit like Grey in his old age.

Once Upon A Time In America has flaws - there were several scriptwriters, many pages of dialog and action, last minute alterations, running out of time and money, the studio insisting upon cuts, which in reality could not be implemented successfully.  And Leone himself seemed to want to purposely add a degree of ambiguity towards the end of the film.

Who were Eve's killers?

Max & the gang were getting more involved with the Combination, a criminal syndicate, who were not happy that a betrayal by Noodles had led to unnecessary deaths and the loss of a booze shipment. They gave a hit contract to Beefy Trigger Mandy & Thug to take Noodles out. The book The Hoods goes into more detail.

Why did they kill Eve?

Eve was not intimidated by Beefy & Co. Who knows what she would have done if allowed to live? Go to the police - warn Noodles - if Noodles is murdered, point the police to his killers?  Why leave a complication when it can easily be eradicated?

The bullet holes in the sheet seem a bit elaborate

There are three main possibilities:

1. It is for Eve's benefit

Beefy & Co do not know Eve very well. They want to shock her into giving the information they require. Hence loosening the light bulb and making bullet holes in a sheet in the outline of a man.  It doesn't intimidate her.

2. It is for the audience's benefit

Leone is saying you have just seen the most boring opening titles I've ever come up with - the studio wouldn't provide the money for the opening scenes I wanted or other directors borrowed my ideas - but you'd better sit up and pay attention, what you are about to see is a very special film.

3. Left over prop from another scene

Jimmy (Treat Williams) - the union guy - is initially straight. He needs persuading to join forces with Max & the gang. In the film this is done by the gang rescuing him from being set on fire in a tank of petrol/gasoline.

In the early screenplay gangsters with tommy guns go into a room where Jimmy is lying on a bed. The camera shows the gunmen firing their tommy guns at the bed and the audience expects that they have shot Jimmy. The next scene shows Jimmy leaving the room totally unharmed and on the sheet there is the outline of Jimmy's body made by bullets from the guns of the gangsters, who are experts at handling tommy guns.

Leone decided to cut this scene and use the petrol tank which I think was originally intended for the capture of Noodles following the betrayal. However the sheet with the bullet holes was still available and someone thought it was a good idea to use it in the Eve scene.

Viewers must decide which is the best interpretation or if it is a combination of all three.

Why didn't they kill Fat Moe, too?

Unlike Eve, Fat Moe was cooperative. Killing Fat Moe will not serve a useful purpose - he will probably not go to the police. Clearly he did not kill Trigger and returning to Fat Moe's will increase the killers' chances of being detected.  His cooperation and information has been duly rewarded - if he ever becomes a problem, the killers know where to find him.

If the Combination knew of Max's plan, why did they order a hit on Noodles who was simply doing what Max wanted?

The Combine or The Combination is a criminal syndicate with whom Max and the gang is getting more closely involved. Noodles and probably the other members of the gang are holding Max back so Max needs to break away, taking with him the gang's assets. Max comes up with a plan to fake his own death. The Combination have contacts within the police and in the book Noodles actually gives his name to the police when making his phone call. The police know it is Noodles. The sequence in the film is Noodles makes the call, Max enters the room and returns the phone to its proper position, Max knocks out Noodles to stop him going on the job. Max also knows Noodles has betrayed him.

There are 3 main possibilities:

1. The Combination did not know about the plan.
    Max went to the West Coast where he married a wealthy woman etc. It is not stated
    if he took up a position there with the Combination or another criminal organization.

2. The plan was known to just one member of the Combination.

3. Everyone in the Combination knew about the plan.

No 1 - Noodles' betrayal has cost lives and money - of course the Combination will take out a contract on him.

No 2 - If the head of the Combination knows about the plan but does not take out a contract on Noodles, other members of the combination will become suspicious invalidating the plan.

No 3 is unlikely - for the plan to be successful, the fewer people who knew the better.

Why does Bugsy hate Max?

Max realizes that, if he and the gang are to be successful, he has to get rid of Bugsy. He tells the police of a job Bugsy is engaged upon. Bugsy is carted off to jail whilst Max watches (deleted scene). Bugsy knows Max ratted on him and when he comes out of jail, he seeks revenge, resulting in the death of Dominic.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: shades on October 11, 2007, 06:18:08 AM
PART II

Do Fat Moe and the rest know that Noodles raped Deborah?

There is certainly an atmosphere when Noodles joins them for coffee. Normally Fat Moe would be all over Noodles but Noodles has to ask Fat Moe for coffee, which Noodles takes an age to stir. It's reported that this part of the scene was invented by De Niro as an homage to Leone.

Noodles eyes Fat Moe cautiously and his look almost says "I hope he doesn't stab me with those scissors".

Again it's down to the viewer to interpret - the gang were of course aware that Noodles had a date with Deborah. They were probably aware that the date went wrong - hopefully they were spared all the details. In the book the rape is not fully completed. As Noodles is ripping Deborah's clothes off, the taxi stops suddenly throwing them both to the floor of the vehicle. The taxi driver says “For Christ sake, let up. You want to kill the girl? You want to get us arrested?”

The Throne

The coffee stirring scene also introduces the audience to Max's throne. In Sir Christopher Frayling's book Something To Do With Death, Frayling hints that the idea of the throne may have been invented by Leone. This is incorrect. The throne is the book The Hoods - chapter 44 p.420.

...a throne, a royal relic of some sort. I examined it more closely. The keynote of the carved design was the royal flag of Rumania which appeared among icons and all sorts of royal insignia and armorial bearings.

“It used to belong to a baron, an old time Rumanian baron, hundreds of years ago.” I repeated, “How did you get it?” “How I got it?” Max asked with a superior smile. “How do I get everything I want? By the muscle...

Was it possible that excesses with a degenerate woman could weaken a man mentally? I had heard a man could develop softening of the brain by that sort of perversion. And was this thronelike chair one of the manifestations of his delusions of grandeur?


The throne gets a slightly different treatment in the film:

NOODLES
What's this?

MAX
It's a throne. It was a gift to a pope. Cost me 800 bucks.

CAROL
It's from the 17th century.

NOODLES
So, what are you doing with it?

MAX
I'm sitting on it.

The throne is one of the first signs that Max is losing it / becoming a megalomaniac.

Age cannot wither Deborah? - "It's like the play was written for you".

I've never had a problem with this scene but some people don't like the way Deborah doesn't seem to have aged. Deborah never fully removes her make up but there are wrinkles on her upper eyelids and around her eyes. Some people think that Leone has deliberately not aged Deborah because the camera is seeing Deborah as Noodles remembers her but I don't think we need to stretch our imagination this far. There are plenty of actresses in their late 50's who look just as good if not better than they did in their 20's.

At the party at Bailey's mansion, many wrinkles are visible. As one would expect Deborah is still good looking.

Why would Deborah ever willingly hook up with Mr Bailey?

Mr Bailey is a multi millionaire, with valuable assets, a grand mansion and a son. I've no problem with this whatsoever. Deborah probably isn't madly in love with Bailey but as we get older other factors such as comfort and security become more important.

Secretary Bailey's identity not known to Fat Moe, Carol, Noodles etc?

In my opinion this is the one major flaw in the movie. It is reported that De Niro who at the time was very thorough had some heated discussions with Leone on some aspects of the film. We will probably never know exactly how Leone felt - all we are certain of is that in the screenplay Max was a "Senator". A Senator whom no-one had seen? This was thought to be implausible and his position was scaled down to a Secretary - it's still not really scaled down enough.

Garbage Truck

Leone obviously wanted to keep this ambiguous. The pages relating to it in the screenplay are missing and an actor other than James Woods was hired to play the scene. Leone's reasons are not known but it does start the audience to think about the movie, talk about it and view on more than occasion. "Did I die in the garbage truck?" is said to be the most frequent question James Woods is asked and even he doesn't know. Woods says that Leone's comment was "It's like Jimmy Hoffa. We know but we don't know but we know." And Woods adds "There's one thing we know. He won't be coming to dinner tomorrow night."

Obviously Secretary Bailey's past is being investigated and he knew that he would be killed to stop him implicating others. He had the option of committing suicide (further details in a deleted scene) in which case some of his wealth may be retained, his reputation may remain intact and there may be less impact on Deborah and his son David. He thinks that Noodles might hate him for stealing his money, his girl and giving him 35 years of grief. Max thinks he has a debt with Noodles which he wants to settle and this will even the score. He would much prefer his former friend Noodles to kill him rather than suicide or an anonymous hit man, hence the plan.

Another possibility is that Max dupes Noodles again. He fakes his death for the third time, Noodles is a witness and Max embarks upon another adventure. Unlikely but possible.

Smile

Some people read a lot into this scene. I don't. Noodles has seen the results of his betrayal, the death of his friends and goes to the opium den for solace. He lies down, inhales the opium and the smile comes almost immediately. There is insufficient time for him to think deeply about the past or dream of future events. It is a stupid smile induced by the drug. Simply a suitable iconic image or a reinforcement of the "this will make you think" idea of the garbage truck - some say it echoes a similar scene with Jill in Once Upon A Time In The West.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 11, 2007, 09:59:47 AM
Quote
Secretary Bailey's identity not known to Fat Moe, Carol, Noodles etc?

In my opinion this is the one major flaw in the movie. It is reported that De Niro who at the time was very thorough had some heated discussions with Leone on some aspects of the film. We will probably never know exactly how Leone felt - all we are certain of is that in the screenplay Max was a "Senator". A Senator whom no-one had seen? This was thought to be implausible and his position was scaled down to a Secretary - it's still not really scaled down enough.
This is probably the biggest flaw in a Leone movie ever.
To suppose, that in an era of televisions, regular newspapers and radio programs, no-one (Fat Moe, Noodles,...) would somewhere recognize Max, is stupid. It just cannot be. Noodles wasn't living in Nicaragua, he was in Buffalo.


Quote
Do Fat Moe and the rest know that Noodles raped Deborah?

There is certainly an atmosphere when Noodles joins them for coffee. Normally Fat Moe would be all over Noodles but Noodles has to ask Fat Moe for coffee, which Noodles takes an age to stir.

Noodles eyes Fat Moe cautiously and his look almost says "I hope he doesn't stab me with those scissors". It is reported that this part of the scene was invented by De Niro as an homage to Leone.

Again it's down to the viewer to interpret - the gang were of course aware that Noodles had a date with Deborah. They were probably aware that the date went wrong - hopefully they were spared all the details. In the book the rape is not fully completed. As Noodles is ripping Deborah's clothes off, the taxi stops suddenly throwing them both to the floor of the vehicle. The taxi driver says “For Christ sake, let up. You want to kill the girl? You want to get us arrested?”
This is the situation that puzzles me most.
I have the feeling Fat Moe knew that something went wrong on that date, but he didn't asked Deborah more about it. What would he do anyway? - Nothing, he was a bit of a pussy. Not bad, but a pussy.

Which leads us to two more questions:
1) How can it be, that he's not in touch with his sister? And how come, he's doing worse than ever, while his sister is rich?
2) Why is Noodles treating Fat Moe like shit, when they meet after decades? Shouldn't he be happy to see an old friend after all these years? (I know he suspects that FM took the money, but let's be honest, he took something more important from FM's sister.)

I know these thing can not be explained, so I'll return to cj's topic: it's all about likeable characters, characters you can (or would like to) identify with. In all other Leone movies you can find a character of your liking; even Frank, Tuco or Indio have something you can like.
The characters from OUATIA are strange plants, the only one who's normal is Fat Moe.


Quote
Smile

Some people read a lot into this scene. I don't. Noodles has seen the results of his betrayal, the death of his friends and goes to the opium den for solace. He lies down, inhales the opium and the smile comes almost immediately. There is insufficient time for him to think deeply about the past or dream of future events. It is a stupid smile induced by the drug. Simply a suitable iconic image or a reinforcement of the "this will make you think" idea of the garbage truck - some say it echoes a similar scene with Jill in Once Upon A Time In The West.
Agreed.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on October 11, 2007, 10:00:03 AM
Thanks, Shades. Well done. O0


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 11, 2007, 10:05:15 AM
Yea, I forgot to say, great job.  O0


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: shades on October 11, 2007, 10:50:06 AM
Which leads us to two more questions:
1) How can it be, that he's not in touch with his sister? And how come, he's doing worse than ever, while his sister is rich?
2) Why is Noodles treating Fat Moe like shit, when they meet after decades? Shouldn't he be happy to see an old friend after all these years? (I know he suspects that FM took the money, but let's be honest, he took something more important from FM's sister.)

I partly agree with you Tuco. All I can really add is:

1) For a brother and sister they never seemed particularly close - I think Deborah saw herself a different class to her brother.  Fat Moe seemed to have limited ambitions and enthusiasm - he was never part of the gang - he probably was reasonably happy following in his father's footsteps and eking out a living.  Perhaps he wasn't a very good businessman - perhaps the ending of prohibition ruined trade.

2) Noodles & Fat Moe have almost a master servant relationship. In Noodles mind he isn't treating Fat Moe badly, he doesn't know any other way to interact with Fat Moe.

 :)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 12, 2007, 08:20:18 AM
I partly agree with you Tuco. All I can really add is:

1) For a brother and sister they never seemed particularly close - I think Deborah saw herself a different class to her brother.  Fat Moe seemed to have limited ambitions and enthusiasm - he was never part of the gang - he probably was reasonably happy following in his father's footsteps and eking out a living.  Perhaps he wasn't a very good businessman - perhaps the ending of prohibition ruined trade.

2) Noodles & Fat Moe have almost a master servant relationship. In Noodles mind he isn't treating Fat Moe badly, he doesn't know any other way to interact with Fat Moe.

 :)


This are two possible interpretations.
These thing are still not fully understandable, although maybe, highly believable (possible).

So I must say, shades, I agree with you, partly.  ;)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: shades on October 12, 2007, 08:57:13 AM
Thank you Tuco - I can ask for nothing more. O0

It's a pity De Niro wasn't as candid in interviews as Woods - I'd love to know how he internalized for the character.  At the time his preparation for roles was reported to be very thorough - the only thing we tend to hear is that he tried to get a meeting with Meyer Lansky but was unsuccessful.

 :-\ 


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 12, 2007, 09:15:46 AM
Quote
It's a pity De Niro wasn't as candid in interviews as Woods - I'd love to know how he internalized for the character.  At the time his preparation for roles was reported to be very thorough - the only thing we tend to hear is that he tried to get a meeting with Meyer Lansky but was unsuccessful.
I can't remember one good interview with De Niro, he's not much of a talker. Woods on the other hand is great, you can see that he's relaxed, and that he enjoys talking.

It's a pity, De Niro would have much to say, he worked with some of the greatest directors of the past century.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 27, 2007, 11:59:00 AM
This is probably the biggest flaw in a Leone movie ever.
To suppose, that in an era of televisions, regular newspapers and radio programs, no-one (Fat Moe, Noodles,...) would somewhere recognize Max, is stupid. It just cannot be. Noodles wasn't living in Nicaragua, he was in Buffalo.


Wait wait wait.

1° we only know for sure that NOODLES doesn't know. Fat may/must know about it. May be he had no more relations with his sister, but sby must have told him, at least about her and Bayley, and since then, since he cares about her, he must have checked. That doesn't mean he has to tell Noodles about it.

2° Noodles has, when he is not in New York, no life. He doesn't exists. He is nobody and nowhere. He only jumps from a period to another. This is the most obvious symbol of the movie (which is, by other aspects, very complex, but not here), so i don't understand why people have problems with this point.

3° (this point is for those who cannot accept the 2°) Even if Noodles knew about it... Why would his reaction be different than the one he has when he is in front of Max at the end? He only refuses the truth. On the other hand, he is attracted by it, this is why he goes to the party. But when the truth is in front of him, he refuses it. Nothing in the movie says it is the first time he has to refuse the truth about Max.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 28, 2007, 10:26:14 AM
Quote
1° we only know for sure that NOODLES doesn't know. Fat may/must know about it. May be he had no more relations with his sister, but sby must have told him, at least about her and Bayley, and since then, since he cares about her, he must have checked. That doesn't mean he has to tell Noodles about it.

It is possible, but highly unbelievable.
Why wouldn't he tell Noodles? After all, remember that he submited quietly that beating of a lifetime for him, this suggests Noodles means something to him, he means very much to him actually.



Quote
2° Noodles has, when he is not in New York, no life. He doesn't exists. He is nobody and nowhere. He only jumps from a period to another. This is the most obvious symbol of the movie (which is, by other aspects, very complex, but not here), so i don't understand why people have problems with this point.

You are forgetting something; they found him easily when they sent him that letter. That means he a had a permanent address, he wasn't traveling around, he was in Buffalo all the time.



Quote
3° (this point is for those who cannot accept the 2°) Even if Noodles knew about it... Why would his reaction be different than the one he has when he is in front of Max at the end? He only refuses the truth. On the other hand, he is attracted by it, this is why he goes to the party. But when the truth is in front of him, he refuses it. Nothing in the movie says it is the first time he has to refuse the truth about Max.

He maybe refusing it before he met Bailey/Max, when they met at the party he just didn't wanted to give Max the pleasure. That was his revenge.



Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 28, 2007, 10:47:38 AM
1 It is possible, but highly unbelievable.
Why wouldn't he tell Noodles? After all, remember that he submited quietly that beating of a lifetime for him, this suggests Noodles means something to him, he means very much to him actually.

2 You are forgetting something; they found him easily when they sent him that letter. That means he a had a permanent address, he wasn't traveling around, he was in Buffalo all the time.



3 He maybe refusing it before he met Bailey/Max, when they met at the party he just didn't wanted to give Max the pleasure. That was his revenge.



I don't agree at all :)

1) he wouldn't tell Noodles for the same reason than Deborah : they don't want him to be hurt more than he already is.
2) He, technicaly, has a permanent adress, but we don't care : he doesn't exists. He doesn't have a life. His life is in NY, and a bit in prison. The rest of it is not realistic because they don't want it to be realistic. They gave him an adress because he is not a ghost, but nothing happens to the character, absolutly nothing. It is just like you see in the movie : he lives njew york in 1931 (if i remember right), and then he comes back 35 years later. Just as you see in the movie. Between these two dates, their is nothing else than remorse. Nothing else.
3) That's what Max says, and Noodles answers that it is no revange. I believe him. He rejects the truth and this world.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 28, 2007, 12:34:22 PM
Quote
I don't agree at all :)
I have foreseen it.  >:D ;D


Quote
1) he wouldn't tell Noodles for the same reason than Deborah : they don't want him to be hurt more than he already is.
This is only one (in this case yours) interpretation, I'm afraid. No-one can say what happened for sure, we're just speculating and your answer doesn't sound very realistic to me.
Maybe other members can jump in the discussion and say their opinion?


Quote
2) He, technicaly, has a permanent adress, but we don't care : he doesn't exists. He doesn't have a life. His life is in NY, and a bit in prison. The rest of it is not realistic because they don't want it to be realistic. They gave him an adress because he is not a ghost, but nothing happens to the character, absolutly nothing. It is just like you see in the movie : he lives njew york in 1931 (if i remember right), and then he comes back 35 years later. Just as you see in the movie. Between these two dates, their is nothing else than remorse. Nothing else.
Yes, yes. But I'm not arguing about that, I'm just saying that it's impossible that he never saw such a high ranged person on the TV, or his picture in the newspapers, or heard of him on the radio. Buffalo, Charlotte, Boise, regret, grief or remorse, it just cannot be.
It would be possible if he was living in Nicaragua for 35 years, but as we've already found out, he wasn't.


Quote
3) That's what Max says, and Noodles answers that it is no revange. I believe him. He rejects the truth and this world.
No matter what Max says, I think it was Noodles' revenge.
However, I do believe one part of Noodles, the part that died 35 years ago, wanted the dream to live a little longer. That's why he never called him Max, he never accepted that although he knew very well it was all true. I'll give you that.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 28, 2007, 12:51:38 PM
2) ok, we agree. You say this is not realistic, i say the same. The point is ("i love your daughter.") that it doesn't have to be realistic.

1) and 3) i told everything... any other opinion?


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 28, 2007, 04:31:56 PM
...any other opinion?

No.
Where do you think you are, on a Sergio Leone board?


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 28, 2007, 04:50:31 PM
No.
Where do you think you are, on a Sergio Leone board?

I think we are surrounded by communists. That's why people are afraid to talk.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 28, 2007, 04:57:20 PM
I think we are surrounded by communists. That's why people are afraid to talk.

It's the only reasonable explanation.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on October 29, 2007, 05:58:09 AM
No.
Where do you think you are, on a Sergio Leone board?
I'll join the conversation as soon as I've read this thread. It has gotten rather long by now...


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 29, 2007, 07:09:04 AM
Take your time.

(and be careful, the communists are around)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on October 29, 2007, 07:42:33 AM
Its just possible that they scaled down Max from a Senator to a Secretery because they forsaw that flaw.

If somebody asked me who the Secretary of say Commerce or any department for that matter was for New york State I wouldn't know his name much less what he looked like. The only reason I believe Max was exposed on TV was because of the scandal.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on October 29, 2007, 09:56:41 AM
Yeah, Joe, you got it. The original script had Bailey as a senator, but that was too high a profile for the purposes of the plot. Making him a secretary was better, but not perfect: it's still a presidential cabinet position, subject to congressional approval, and therefore, subject to a certain amount of publicity. Maybe Noodles wouldn't have noticed, but someone else surely would have, and they would have raised a stink, then it would have become a news item, and then everyone would know. And why would Max, anticipating these very problems, allow himself to be put forward for confirmation in the first place? Why not have a mouthpiece operating as the secretary through whom Max could work? The one law that every old gangster knows is, Stay in the Background. Max's failure to follow this is a flaw in the logic of the plot.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Groggy on October 29, 2007, 10:31:14 AM
Secretary of Commerce? Blech. Nobody knows or cares about the Secretary of Commerce unless he fucks up royal. It's one of those borderline useless cabinet positions. :D


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 29, 2007, 11:49:13 AM
The one law that every old gangster knows is, Stay in the Background. Max's failure to follow this is a flaw in the logic of the plot.

Max is megalomaniac (and "crazy"). This explains the "flaw".


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 29, 2007, 11:55:20 AM
Quote
Yeah, Joe, you got it. The original script had Bailey as a senator, but that was too high a profile for the purposes of the plot.
We've mentioned this somewhere already, before cj I think.

Quote
Making him a secretary was better, but not perfect: it's still a presidential cabinet position, subject to congressional approval, and therefore, subject to a certain amount of publicity. Maybe Noodles wouldn't have noticed, but someone else surely would have, and they would have raised a stink, then it would have become a news item, and then everyone would know. And why would Max, anticipating these very problems, allow himself to be put forward for confirmation in the first place? Why not have a mouthpiece operating as the secretary through whom Max could work? The one law that every old gangster knows is, Stay in the Background. Max's failure to follow this is a flaw in the logic of the plot.
That's what I'm saying.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 29, 2007, 11:58:23 AM
Max is megalomaniac (and "crazy"). This explains the "flaw".
Self-explanatory items rarely explain something, they mostly lead to more questions and subjective assumptions. Like in this case.
Now it only depends which explanation sounds more probable to you.

So, although Max is clearly insane/megalomaniac, that still doesn't explain how come no-one recognized him all those years. That's a flaw.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 29, 2007, 05:08:14 PM
I think we're not progressing ;D


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 29, 2007, 05:14:21 PM
I think we're not progressing ;D
You know why is so, don't you?


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 29, 2007, 05:30:42 PM
You know why is so, don't you?

shhhhhhhht! they're around...


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on October 29, 2007, 09:10:51 PM
But then we are assuming on the other hand that Max is a famous well known notorious gangster too. He's not Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Shultz, or Legs Diamond, just a one time bootlegger that went legit on the surface once prohibition ended. New York had a lot of ex bootleggers and plenty of speakeasy owners that went legit, Toots Shore is one I remember off the top of my head and 21 is another.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on October 29, 2007, 10:21:43 PM
Yeah, but you can never go legit enough to ever serve in a president's cabinet. An ex-mobster being secretary of anything would be a scandal in itself. And in America, it's not the kind of thing you could keep secret.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on October 30, 2007, 08:37:39 PM
Joseph Kennedy, Sr.
Business Personality / Political Figure
The patriarch of the political Kennedy family, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was born during Boston's Irish boom of the late 1800s. Famously ambitious, he attended Harvard and by age 25 was already president of a small bank. Later he moved into investment banking, movie theaters, film production and liquor, becoming wealthy in the process. (It is often alleged that he ran liquor illegally during Prohibition.) He supported Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in the elections of 1932; in 1933 the new president made Kennedy chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1938 FDR appointed him ambassador to Britain, making Kennedy the first Irish Catholic to hold that post. His 1913 marriage to Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of Boston mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, resulted in nine children. Their son John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946 and became president in 1961. Two other sons, Robert and Edward, became U.S. senators.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on October 30, 2007, 08:45:21 PM
This is only an exception that confirms the rule I'm afraid. Can you name any other bandit-politician joe? ;D


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on October 31, 2007, 04:44:19 AM
Max?


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on October 31, 2007, 07:46:25 AM
Joe, you're doing your best, but the strain is starting to show. As far as I know, Joe Kennedy was never indicted for anything illegal. "Allegedly" running booze during prohibition isn't exactly a smoking gun (no, I'm not a Kennedy apologist). And being appointed ambassador is a heck of lot different than a presidential cabinet appointment.

If someone like "Bailey" had been put forward for secretary of anything, the Senate would not have confirmed him. Their background investigation would have revealed his criminal past, or if it were too well hidden, a suspicious lack of info about the guy. The red flags would have gone up on the nomination almost immediately. The press would also have started checking and come up with something. In 1960s America, at the national level (I don't say for the state or local level), its just not credible to believe that an ex-gangster could dodge scrutiny long enough to get such an appointment.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on October 31, 2007, 08:43:10 AM
I'm not actually trying to do anything,  ;)  Kennedy just poped into my head as somebody rumored to have mob connections at one time.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on November 01, 2007, 09:31:40 AM
Okay, I've read through this thread now.
Yeah, Joe, you got it. The original script had Bailey as a senator, but that was too high a profile for the purposes of the plot. Making him a secretary was better, but not perfect: it's still a presidential cabinet position, subject to congressional approval, and therefore, subject to a certain amount of publicity. Maybe Noodles wouldn't have noticed, but someone else surely would have, and they would have raised a stink, then it would have become a news item, and then everyone would know.
Who is there to notice him? As CJ said, he's not Al Capone. He was just a smalltimer when he was gangster. Normal people from the neighborhood wouldn't have a clue who is the Secretary of whatever and politicians wouldn't know crooks like him. All the people that would know(notice Secretary Bailey being actually a bootlegger from NYC are the ones who get some benefit out of this situation.

And why would Max, anticipating these very problems, allow himself to be put forward for confirmation in the first place? Why not have a mouthpiece operating as the secretary through whom Max could work? The one law that every old gangster knows is, Stay in the Background. Max's failure to follow this is a flaw in the logic of the plot.
Thinking logically, having a mouthpiece operating as the secretary would be the best thing to do. But as said, Max is a megalomaniac and he wants as high position as possible (and any higher position is not believeable to be possible).


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 01, 2007, 12:55:53 PM
The point is, once you aspire to high political office in America you come in for a lot of scrutiny. People start doing background checks on you, from both the government and press sides. Nobody may have known anything about you before, but suddenly you've got people whose only job is check up on your past. They find the dirt, or they find a big hole where the dirt should be. Either way, this gets noticed, until finally scandal attaches.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Cusser on November 01, 2007, 04:12:22 PM
i think this "coming under more scrutiny" for positions in U.S. has a lot to do with paparazzi reporters wanting to gain some instant fame, which was not as much an issue in 1968.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on November 09, 2007, 04:55:20 AM
Either way, this gets noticed, until finally scandal attaches.

WHich is exactly what happens in the movie.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 09, 2007, 09:29:55 AM
Except that he somehow got through the confirmation process without anyone finding out about his past. Certainly he would have been found out once in office, but I don't see how he could have avoided scandal even as a nominee. Red flags would have gone up from the get-go, he would not have been confirmed, he would have been asked to withdraw his nomination, etc. But somehow he became "Secretary" Bailey. It's not credible. I blame SL's lack of familiarity with the U.S. political process.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on November 09, 2007, 09:51:53 AM
Except that he somehow got through the confirmation process without anyone finding out about his past. Certainly he would have been found out once in office, but I don't see how he could have avoided scandal even as a nominee. Red flags would have gone up from the get-go, he would not have been confirmed, he would have been asked to withdraw his nomination, etc. But somehow he became "Secretary" Bailey. It's not credible. I blame SL's lack of familiarity with the U.S. political process.
It looks like credible to Europeans. At least I'm buying it, and noodles_leone seems to be buying it too. Okay, maybe now when you have pointed out some things I'm having second thoughts. But honestly I never had a problem with Max becoming Secretary. Leone said something like: "OUATIA is America seen through European eyes". And European eyes are much colored by movies.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on November 09, 2007, 10:34:24 AM
It looks like credible to Europeans. At least I'm buying it, and noodles_leone seems to be buying it too. Okay, maybe now when you have pointed out some things I'm having second thoughts. But honestly I never had a problem with Max becoming Secretary. Leone said something like: "OUATIA is America seen through European eyes". And European eyes are much colored by movies.
Are you saying that from a European point of view, everything can happen in America? (Both good and bad things.)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on November 09, 2007, 10:39:33 AM
Are you saying that from a European point of view, everything can happen in America? (Both good and bad things.)
Not everything. But you know, everything's in bigger scale there. ;D


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on November 09, 2007, 10:46:06 AM
Not everything. But you know, everything's in bigger scale there. ;D
Yeah, I know...  >:D ;D


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on November 09, 2007, 02:28:23 PM
It looks like credible to Europeans. At least I'm buying it, and noodles_leone seems to be buying it too. Okay, maybe now when you have pointed out some things I'm having second thoughts. But honestly I never had a problem with Max becoming Secretary. Leone said something like: "OUATIA is America seen through European eyes". And European eyes are much colored by movies.

Telling the truth, my mother has always had a problem with that point too... But she's the only one among people around me who have seen the movie...


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 10, 2007, 12:38:44 AM
Of course, the Secretary Bailey thing is nothing compared with other implausibilities in the film. I think it was Pauline Kael who first pointed out how ridiculous it was for the gang to be using a locker at the train station as their safety deposit box (train station lockers are cleared out every 24 hours).


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on November 10, 2007, 01:33:07 AM
Of course, the Secretary Bailey thing is nothing compared with other implausibilities in the film. I think it was Pauline Kael who first pointed out how ridiculous it was for the gang to be using a locker at the train station as their safety deposit box (train station lockers are cleared out every 24 hours).

Leone never told his movies were realistic. OUATIA is about 9999999999999 times more plausible than any of his other movies, but i think some of you guys are stuck with some reality problems with that film since it is the Leone movie that is closer to reality. WHich doesn't mean it HAS to be realistic.

In a movie, the director creates a world. Things that happens have to be plausible in THAT world, not our world. It means that as long as you're not shoked while watching the movie, i think the movie works. OUATIA works for me, obvously many things don't work for some of you.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on November 10, 2007, 01:37:40 AM
I second that.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on November 10, 2007, 05:39:29 AM
Of course, the Secretary Bailey thing is nothing compared with other implausibilities in the film. I think it was Pauline Kael who first pointed out how ridiculous it was for the gang to be using a locker at the train station as their safety deposit box (train station lockers are cleared out every 24 hours).

Maybe they were checking them every 24 hours.

As for after the 35 years, when Noodles comes back; Bailey could have put it there himself, just for the occasion.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on November 10, 2007, 09:09:14 AM
Someone on another board commented that in the 1920s and 1930s it was not common practice to clear out lockers daily.  Personally I've not seen any evidence either way but in those days people may not have felt as threatened by such things as bombs and drugs as they do today.
Yeah, I've read that too.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: MatViola on November 10, 2007, 09:55:22 AM
"It seems fairly common in films for money to be left in train station lockers and there is a certain romance associated with stream trains and railway stations.  In the book The Hoods the gang keep their cash in banks, which are not usually perceived as very romantic places."

This is the best response to this complaint.  Leone simply wanted these crucial scenes - the pact made by the boys, and Noodles' discovery of the missing money, i.e., the betrayal - to occur within the romantic milieu of a train station, with all those evocative toots and whistles in the background.  I'm sure Leone was well aware of the improbable nature of this plot device, which only shows he wasn't afraid to dispense with "realism" if it happened to interfere with the cinematic effect he wanted.   

On a purely aesthetic level, the plot device also allows for a rather lovely example of narrative symmetry, as the lockers play an important role in all three time periods.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: noodles_leone on November 10, 2007, 11:20:56 AM
banks, which are not usually perceived as very romantic places.

Yeah, I've read that too.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 10, 2007, 11:53:18 AM
"It seems fairly common in films for money to be left in train station lockers and there is a certain romance associated with stream trains and railway stations.  In the book The Hoods the gang keep their cash in banks, which are not usually perceived as very romantic places."

This is the best response to this complaint.  Leone simply wanted these crucial scenes - the pact made by the boys, and Noodles' discovery of the missing money, i.e., the betrayal - to occur within the romantic milieu of a train station, with all those evocative toots and whistles in the background.  I'm sure Leone was well aware of the improbable nature of this plot device, which only shows he wasn't afraid to dispense with "realism" if it happened to interfere with the cinematic effect he wanted.   

On a purely aesthetic level, the plot device also allows for a rather lovely example of narrative symmetry, as the lockers play an important role in all three time periods.

And I have no problem with this. It's what we used to call poetic license. Films employ such things a lot (as, for example, when you have a running gun battle in which no one ever needs to reload). The only problem comes when the plot requires an improbable/implausible element for the story to work. That doesn't happen in the examples we've been discussing. The boys could have been putting their money in a hole in the ground and that wouldn't have changed the plot (but the train station works better aesthetically, as Vaporing notes above). Bailey could have simply been a wealthy campaign contributor or lobbyist type rather than an actual government official, with the same vague scandal taking him down (but "Secretary Bailey" sounds impressive, and it's a kind of shorthand for "Rich and Powerful Bailey"). But still, there's no reason NOT to call SL on such choices, if for no other reason than to generate a discussion such as this.

Again, the only time such things become a fightin' issue is when some dickfor tries to make the argument that none of it matters, or that all implausibilities among different films are equal. OUATIA isn't harmed by its many implausibilities (it may even be improved because of some), but that doesn't mean the same applies to all movies. A vast space separates the artistry of OUATIA from the idiocy of, say, the 2007 re-make of 3:10 to Yuma, where the implausibilities there rise so high they obscure whatever merit the work may have otherwise revealed.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Groggy on November 14, 2007, 08:54:56 PM
Again - he's a Commerce Secretary. Who cares? ::)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 14, 2007, 11:17:16 PM
The media, the opposition party, belt-way insiders, the law-enforcement community, lobbying groups, etc. Quite a few people, actually.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Noodles_SlowStir on November 21, 2007, 02:36:40 PM

YOUR YOUNGEST AND STRONGEST WILL FALL BY THE SWORD

Noodles is taken to prison. The prison gates close behind him and Max stares at an inscription above the prison gates. The movie then cuts to 1968 and an inscription above the entrance of a mausoleum in Riversdale Cemetery which reads:

YOUR YOUNGEST AND STRONGEST WILL FALL BY THE SWORD

It seems to be inferred that this inscription is deeply meaningful to Noodles and is the same as the inscription above the prison gates.

Whilst we never see the prison inscription clearly, it is safe to say that the length and number of words in the prison inscription do not match those in the mausoleum inscription. 

It's more like "THE NYC REFORMATORY FOR BOYS...".  In any event, thinking about it,  it would be unusual for a prison or reformatory to have as its motto:

YOUR YOUNGEST AND STRONGEST WILL FALL BY THE SWORD

In the screenplay, there is no mention of an inscription above the prison gates and the mausoleum inscription reads:

"Your men will fall by the sword, your heroes in the fight" (Isaiah, 3:25).

You're right about the reformatory/prison plaque.   I think it was shot that way intentionally so we would not be able to read it.  I'm sure something could of been done with that location shot if Sergio wanted the plaque to be read by the viewer.  Not sure if he decided then or afterward that the inscription would be one of his time segues.  Taking the viewer from the 30's to the 60's like the peephole, suitcase, station....  In some ways the inscription has more meaning for Max.  It's his point of view reading the plaque which we don't actually see.  He's the one that built the mausoleum to bring back Noodles for his own purposes.  That inscription works a little better than having "Why go on living when we can bury you for $49.50". ;D    It becomes significant to Noodles when he enters the mausoleum because he's going back to the past behind the slamming door of the crypt instead of the slamming gates of the reformatory/prison.  I think he also notices it and starts making some connections of who and why he was brought back.  I think because the viewer doesn't read or see the inscription, it does in a way impress that this inscription is meaningful to Max.  In that defining scene in which Noodles kills Bugsy, Max is prepared to rush out.  Noodles gets there before him.  Max falls back when the police arrive.  Another difference in the script.  I think in the script, Max attempts to rush out to help Noodles.  In the conclusion, if you interpret the end as Max committing suicide, in a way he died by the sword or the thrashing razors of the garbage truck.  He made decisions and had to live with the consequences.     

Not sure about the point of whether the inscription or bible reference would be realistic for the prison/reformatory or a state facility.  Sometimes we do see quotes or passages from the bible where they're modernized or rephrased for public and secular usage like this.  I see where you say the script refers to Isaiah. 

"Your men will fall by the sword, your heroes in the fight". 

I always thought it was a reference to Little Caesar which opened with the quote by Matthew 26.52
"For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword!" 

That would comment on the character of Rico and what happens to him.  Sergio referring to the line also as a statement for reform.  Yet the script obviously invokes Isaiah which is even darker.  Not only will those die that seek violence and bear the sword, but your heroes will die as well.

Quote
Continuity error when Noodles is collected from prison?

Max collects Noodles from prison in daylight but it's nighttime when they arrive at Fat Moe's.

We never know the exact timings, the location of the prison, the distance between the two places or if Max took a detour. In any event it's not beyond imagination that Max collected Noodles at say 5.30pm and arrived at the Fat Moe's at say 7.00pm by which time night had fallen.

The two scenes according to the screenplay:

SCENE 76 - STREET IN FRONT OF A PRISON (1931) Exterior. Sunset.

SCENE 77 - STREET IN FRONT OF FAT MOE'S (1931) Exterior. Night.

I really don't make too much of this.  I think there's another thread with some discussion on the time element.  I think you're right it could be explained as late afternoon into evening.  Who knows how long Noodles boiled.  He would of had a lot of years of passion to displace.  Maybe Max had a go.  He followed Noodles more than once in this department.  Maybe Max and Noodles had a heart to heart to bring Noodles forward on the business.  Just another one of those situations where I don't think every minute or hour off camera needs to be accounted for.  Sometimes I think the editing history of the film makes that analysis worse.  In watching the outtake of the documentary, I think James Woods points out that one of the important things for Sergio in that particular scene was he wanted the rain when Noodles is free and meets Max.  Doesn't Woods say it was an overcast day but they had no idea it would actually rain?  When they filmed it started to rain.  He laughs and says Sergio expected and demanded it.  I think in this film, Sergio subverts and destroys time repeatedly, so on the small scale of that scene into the speakeasy scene....I have no problem with it.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Groggy on November 23, 2007, 10:18:32 AM
The media, the opposition party, belt-way insiders, the law-enforcement community, lobbying groups, etc. Quite a few people, actually.

Hey Jenkins, this is the Johnson administration we're talking about. LBJ wasn't exactly scrupulous when it came to politics. ::)


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: dave jenkins on November 23, 2007, 11:57:37 AM
Well, yeah, Robert Caro has made a career on just that point. But LBJ wasn't impervious to scandal, right? And his political instincts were sharp. If he'd seen Bailey coming, he would have ducked.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Noodles_SlowStir on November 23, 2007, 08:05:07 PM
The scene where Noodles is taken to prison is handled well by Leone.  The script/screenplay is a bit too dramatic and doesn't contain an obvious match cut to Noodles staring at the inscription on the mausoleum.

You’re right about the script and film treatment of the scene where Noodles is taken away.  I noticed that as well.  He did make it less melodramatic and so much more effective in the film.

Quote
I think that this thread was conceived as a summary of flaws and events in the movie which viewers may find puzzling.  My previous post was in no way a criticism of the film but is included merely for the sake of completeness.

A1, this is a nice thread.  There are a lot of interesting comments and discussions.  It comes through how much you like the film.  I read the first post and I guess understand the origins of the thread.  For me, I find I’ve come back to it more than a few times.  I really haven’t had much to add.  I’ve been thinking about some of the points and really didn’t want to post for posting.  I definitely would like to be a dickfor of the third kind and be able to offer something reasonable for the plausibility of Secretary Bailey or even Noodles/Moe not having seen Bailey in the media, but I really can’t (although I suppose some would say I’m a dickfor anyway  ;D).  At one point, I pondered the corruption angle as possibly a way that Max could be confirmed under his new false identity.  As pointed out, it doesn’t really hold up.  Even partisan politics of the 60's variety would of probably got him.

I think we do look at this through a lens of our times. There was a post that seemed to raise that idea with the media.  Extreme partisan politics, being real deep into a post Watergate cynicism (with Iran-Contra, Clinton impeachment, Jack Abramoff and numerous other scandals), media out of control that reports anything and everything (perhaps with less of a public service dedication as opposed to a profit motivation for the large corporations which own and operate it).  Yet, if you try to put it in historical perspective for that period (I’m definitely not an expert in that area)...it still would seem unlikely.

I liked a lot of the things that were said in different ways in posts by moviesceleton, noodles_leone and Vapor as far as plot points being devised for dramatic purpose in the film (the gang using a locker in the railroad station, Max being a Secretary of Commerce in a presidential administration to heighten his dramatic rise and fall).  I definitely agree with these thoughts.  I’ve been thinking about the film along those lines for sometime in relation to the final act with all the implausibilities.  I think we saw this kind of thing with DYS, the english name issue and use of the phrase.  I think Sergio loved that line by Coburn so much from a dramatic standpoint (he’s right, it’s cool everytime) that he wouldn’t listen to anyone that tried to tell him it wasn’t a popular phrase of that time.  I think OUATIA, maybe sets itself up for more of these issues, because he’s approaching his material with a lens that attempts to get even closer in someways than the other films (to certain characters, details of the period and events).  Yet, OUATIA, for all this greater character development and detail of an actual time and period, is a..... once upon a time story.   In his mind, these stories fuse the real with fantasy.  I really think there’s something to this when thinking about the final act.  I don’t think it’s a case of being unable to address plot points because the adaptation source ran out (ended in the thirties and does not include the 60's segment), or that there were so many writers involved or that the editing problems were factors.   OUATIA has plot "contrivances" much like fairy tales and fables where everything seems cyclical and interconnected (Deborah ends up with Max, Max is still alive and obtains a high position of political power almost becoming the fallen king of our fairy tale complete with throne)  How much and to what extent has Leone incorporated elements of fantasy within his story set in a realistic time and setting to complete his message and his characters’ story cycle? These seem to be the "inconsistencies" that are always talked about as the "flaws".

In an interview included in Once Upon A Time In Italy The Westerns Of Sergio Leone (pg 77), Leone states:

The films are for grown-ups, but they remain fairy tales and have the impact of fairy tales.  For me, cinema is about imagination, and the imagination is best communicated in the form of parables...meaning fairy tales.  Not in the Walt Disney sense, though.  They draw attention to themselves as fairy tales...everything is made up and cleaned up and sugary sweet, and this makes the tale less suggestive.  To me, anyway.  I think that fairy tales capture the audience’s imagination when the setting is realistic rather than fantastical.  The fusion of realistic setting and fantasy story can give film a sense of myth, of legend, Once upon a time......

Maybe I’m being subjective in my thinking.  By no means am I suggesting this approach releases Sergio or the film from scrutiny on these details, but if one is going to analyze those details so closely, shouldn’t his artistic intentions also be considered?  I could be wrong, but I think that’s the gist of what I’m hearing in quite a few of the posts on this thread.

I really liked the way Dave lays it out here...

Quote
Again, the only time such things become a fightin' issue is when some dickfor tries to make the argument that none of it matters, or that all implausibilities among different films are equal. OUATIA isn't harmed by its many implausibilities (it may even be improved because of some), but that doesn't mean the same applies to all movies.

I do shake my head when someone likes to put down the worth of the film as a whole by  focussing on these points.....almost like a vocation on every possible forum.  On the other hand, differences in viewpoint and disagreement are good things when it can create more discussion and allow everyone to get closer to the material.....  I guess if it can be some kind of dialogue and exchange rather than assistance in tweaking someone’s nonsense.   

If someone really admires Leone cinema, I think they would have an appreciation of OUATIA.  It’s still my favorite Leone film.  It’s a beautiful piece of cinematic art.  A masterpiece.  He put so much of himself into that production, and it’s all there for everyone to see and appreciate.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Tuco the ugly on November 24, 2007, 08:51:38 PM
I just wanted to say this proves that many people do love this movie (me included). Most of the people that participated in this topic tried to make logical points, actually thinking of this movie (what I find extremely rare outside of this board). That is the greatness of OUATIA; people have the need to talk about it with someone, and share opinions, even if they're different. This isn't just another ''I love it - I hate it, just because I do, fuck you if you think different'' thread. Plus, like someone said before, spotting all these 'flaws' doesn't reduce OUATIA's value.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on December 13, 2007, 01:01:59 PM
(http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc90/a1line/train2.jpg)

Huh? ???


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on December 14, 2007, 04:19:57 AM
The carriges for one are Eruopean not American espcially with the SNCF on the side.

Also if it was Grand Central or Pennsylvania Station they would have been using all electric locomotives. Only Hoboken or Weehawken across the Hudson would have maybe still had steam locos.



Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on December 14, 2007, 04:48:57 PM
Well the "box" cabs like # 1212  below would have pulled the passenger trains in & out of Grand Central Station after it was rebuilt and the tracks dropped below Park Avenue and covered over.

(http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/6059/nyc1212rt4.jpg)

If it was Penn Station the passenger trains would have been pulled by the tuscan red GG1's like below.

(http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/4892/gg1nt8.jpg)

But if it was steam then Noodels and the gang may have been going to The Lackawana Terminal in Hoboken which looked more like the terminal in the film but hardly likely but if you read the captions you could catch a train to Buffalo from there  8). But then again you could also from Grand Central Terminal see below:

http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/hoboken/hoboken.html


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on December 15, 2007, 05:05:23 AM
that & the fact that they are pretty much silent compared to Steamlocos.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: cigar joe on December 20, 2007, 05:24:38 AM
There are a lot of old buildings in NYC that still bear the signs and artifacts of former uses. O0


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: Groggy on December 20, 2007, 06:56:02 AM
Well, yeah, Robert Caro has made a career on just that point. But LBJ wasn't impervious to scandal, right? And his political instincts were sharp. If he'd seen Bailey coming, he would have ducked.

Hey Jenkins, maybe "Bailey" had something on Johnson.

Nice pic A1. Maybe Fartface and the other guy were fond of taking Turkish baths together.  O0


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: moviesceleton on January 07, 2008, 12:16:03 PM
An old topic on missing scenes: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=573.msg4199#msg4199 Some stuff I didn't know.


Title: Re: Spoilers flaws and interpretations - a summary
Post by: drinkanddestroy on September 02, 2015, 11:32:35 AM


The Throne

The coffee stirring scene also introduces the audience to Max's throne. In Sir Christopher Frayling's book Something To Do With Death, Frayling hints that the idea of the throne may have been invented by Leone. This is incorrect. The throne is the book The Hoods - chapter 44 p.420.

...a throne, a royal relic of some sort. I examined it more closely. The keynote of the carved design was the royal flag of Rumania which appeared among icons and all sorts of royal insignia and armorial bearings.

“It used to belong to a baron, an old time Rumanian baron, hundreds of years ago.” I repeated, “How did you get it?” “How I got it?” Max asked with a superior smile. “How do I get everything I want? By the muscle...

Was it possible that excesses with a degenerate woman could weaken a man mentally? I had heard a man could develop softening of the brain by that sort of perversion. And was this thronelike chair one of the manifestations of his delusions of grandeur?


The throne gets a slightly different treatment in the film:

NOODLES
What's this?

MAX
It's a throne. It was a gift to a pope. Cost me 800 bucks.

CAROL
It's from the 17th century.

NOODLES
So, what are you doing with it?

MAX
I'm sitting on it.

The throne is one of the first signs that Max is losing it / becoming a megalomaniac.
 

just in case James Woods needs a new chair http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_POPE_CHAIR_NYC?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT