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1  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: Most memorable scene in this film? on: July 20, 2007, 03:29:22 AM
The death of Dominic and the shots before it with the bridge.

Either that or when Dominic went to give the pastry to the girl. He waits out the room and begins to eyeball it, beginning to eat it himself. I don't know why, but that scene is just so beautiful.

Actually, that was Patsy, not Dominic, who is in that scene with the Charlotte Russe while sitting outside Peggy's door.
2  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re:Most memorable scene in this film? on: July 18, 2007, 11:56:49 PM
The ending is definitely one of the most moving endings to a film I've seen, but another pick of mine is when Noodles goes to the train station where Deborah's leaving, after he raped her.  Watching the train pull her away like that--with her eyes on Noodles's, pulling the shade down--just says so much about his utter loss, that HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR.  It's heartbreaking.  And then the camera turns to Noodles, watching her go.  Finally he turns away, with that mournful music, and then it goes to the intermission, which is perfect.  Lets it all soak into the audience.

Another favorite (not really a scene, though) is when Noodles enters the room with "Secretary Bailey" near the end, and Max turns around to face him, and we see Noodles's face.  De Niro expresses so much in one look it blows me away every time.  The way it feels to see his old friend after 35 years, the friend that he thought he'd killed and now had apparently betrayed him, is expressed in his face so much better than I could possibly put into words.  De Niro's acting all the way through the film is incredible in its subtlety.

And of course the rape scenes are memorable in the worst way.  The one with Deborah is particularly awful, but the one in the jewler's is also done really well, as we see Max and Patsy look over the jewels ("nice matzo balls") while we hear Carol's voice transform from horrified screams into sensual moans.  And now I've gone on much too long... anybody could just go on and on about the memorable parts of the film.

These are my picks for the most dramatic and symbolic moments in the film:

1. Noodles's expresion when he sees Max's son, David, and now realizes that Secretary Bailey and Max are the same person, that Max is actually still alive, and that Max is the one who brought him back to NYC.

2. Noodles's expression when he first sees Bailey/Max's face after all these years of believing he had caused Max's death. Even though Noodles had already figured out the connection by seeing Max's son, David, nothing could prepare Noodles for the shock of actually coming face-to-face again with Max after all these years.

3. The scene where Noodles and Deborah sit down together and she  reads "My Beloved" to him. Then they are interrupted by Max, and she says "go ahead, your mother's calling you." After Noodles and Max are beaten up by Bugsy and his friends, Deborah has locked the door and he can't get back in (remember she had earlier left the door open for him, when her father and brother went to the synagogue and her father gave her the key and left her in charge). This symbolizes that he has chosen the path of evil over pureness and goodness (as represented by Deborah) and now as a result she has shut him out of her life forever. 

4.  The scene where Max and Noodles turn from potential enemies into friends, when they unite for the purpose of daling with a common enemy--Fartface the cop, and Max tells his Fartface and then Max's mother that Noodles is Max's uncle. They realize at that point that they are kindred spirits and need each other to succeed.

5.  After Max and Noodles fall out of the boat and Noodles is frantically looking for Max, fearing that he has drowned. . . . and Max looks down at him from the boat and says, "where would you be without me?"

6. The "stink of the streets" scene where Sharkey tells Max that he's carrying dead weight--this is the beginning of the end of Noodles and Max's relationship.
3  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: The Ending Opium Scene on: July 18, 2007, 11:23:34 PM
I used to think that this was just one of those unexplained puzzles in the movie and the viewer needs to decide for him/herself its significance and meaning.

I do not really want to go along with the theory that everything after 1933 was an opium induced dream but the smile did seem to fit well with that theory.  Noodles dreams of his past and his opium enhanced imagination conjures up that Max engineered the whole thing to pursue a lucrative career on his own.  There is of course the deaths of his friends - but this was probably down to Max - and the rape of Deborah but in his imagination he has met her in the future and whilst she is a bit cold towards him, she is still on speaking terms with him and optimistically things may get better.  His conscience is clear and he can smile again.

However after viewing the scenes again and looking at Noodles clothes and tie, this is total rubbish.  Chronologically the ending smile comes before the scenes in the opium den at the beginning of the film.  Noodles has seen the devastation caused to his friends by his betrayal and goes to the opium den to seek solace.  He loosens his tie, lies down on the cot and initially the opium pipe brings relief and he smiles, as depicted at the end of the film.  However gangsters enter the theater looking for him, the chinaman brings him an infusion to wake him up and coming round from the effects of the opium he remembers the deaths of his friends.

My own interpretation of the smile is that it doesn't have a significant meaning or link to other parts of the movie.  Noodles lies down, inhales the opium and almost immediately the smile comes. There is insufficient time for him to recall past or future events and smile.  It is a stupid smile, down to the effects of the opium bringing him temporary relief from conscious awareness.  The main link is to a similar scene of Jill in Once Upon a Time In The West.

However it's a great touch - the ending coming before the beginning.

mal247: I'm with you 100 per cent on this one. I think many fans are just reading too much into that scene, with the dream sequnce theory and all that other stuff.  I agree with you that Noodles is simply making a dopey smile because the opium has given him a very brief respite from reality. The film maker seems to be saying to us that this is going to be the last moment, for at least the next 35 years, that Noodles will have any degree of inner peace, even if it that peace is drug-induced and very temporary. 

The irony is that Noodles doesn't know it yet, but of course we do. We've already seen  that once he leaves the opium den, he'll be shocked back into reality. He'll find out that his world has been torn apart even worse than he thought. He's already found out, from the newspaper given to him in the opium den, that his best friends and partners are dead because he ratted them out to the cops (or at least that's what he will believe for the next 35 years). But in a few minutes he'll also find out that at that very moment he's being hunted down by hit men, that those same hit men have already killed his girlfriend and beaten his one remaining friend (Fat Moe) within an inch of his life, and that all his money has mysteriously disappeared from the locker. As a result, he leaves town a completely broken and utterly devastated man, to go into self-imposed exile.

The use of irony shows in the timing of the smile scene--it comes at the very end of the film, just after Noodles at last finds some peace after 35 years. Of course, he's still lost everything that was important to him. But after the scene with Secretary Bailey/Max, he can at least have some small degree of peace, knowing that the destruction of his world was not completely his own doing. After all these years, he learns the truth, that he was not responsbile for the deaths of Max, Patsy and Cockeye. Of course, this is a bittersweet revelation for him, since he has lost 35 years of his life while being tortured with the thought that he was at fault:

Bailey/Max: I'm already a dead man. At least give me a chance to settle the debt that I owe to you . . .  I found out where you were. I brought you back here for this. To even the score between you and me.

Noodles: I don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Bailey. You don't owe me a thing.

Bailey/Max: Your eyes were too full of tears to see it wasn't me lying there burned up on that street. It was somebody else. You were too shocked to realize that the cops were in on it, too. That was a syndicate operation, Noodles.

Noodles: You're crazy.

Bailey/Max: You said that to me once before, a long time ago. But my mind was never as clear as it was at that moment. I took away your whole life from you. I've been living in your place. I took everything. I took your money. I took your girl. All I left for you was 35 years of grief over having killed me. Now, why don't you shoot?
4  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: It's the baby changing tune on: July 16, 2007, 08:59:34 PM
Welcome to the board, dave in milwaukee.

There's quite a good version in the Sony Bravia TV ads

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rV-wo0tzOk




Thanks, mal247. And thanks for the video. A great tune!
5  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: It's the baby changing tune on: July 14, 2007, 10:27:10 PM
Correct Cigar.  It also plays a big role in "Clockwork Orange".

Right--and it was written by Rossini, who is probably best known for the "William Tell" overture.
6  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: US 139 minute version on: July 14, 2007, 01:29:43 AM
Well, the chopped-up version shown in US theaters in 1984 was missing the two rape scenes, a few other scenes, and was put in chronological order which as we all know makes the film incomprehensible. Not only that, the end with the garbage truck and the smile in the opium den was removed completely! They replaced it with Noodles walking out of Senator Bailey's office and cuts with the sound of a gunshot ( God forbid if a movie gets too cerebral   Roll Eyes  ) 

With the new director's cut, we got back everything missing from 1984 ( the version showed at the Cannes film festival where it was critically praised ).

But, Leone ****** another 20 minutes of film that he deleted himself due to financial pressure. He still felt those scenes were necessary. They include a black hearse following Noodles in the cemetary in 1968, Jimmy O'Donnell meeting Max at Secretary Bailey's party where he is struck by Max ( " you wouldn't hurt an old cripple now would you? " ), and more scenes with Noodles' girlfriend Eve.

Are those extra 20 minutes available anywhere? I especially want to see more of Eve--especially because she has such a brief appearance in the film and I've always been totally smitten with the stunningly beautiful actress, Darlanne Fluegel, who played her. Every time I see the film I want to personally kill that slimebag who shoots her in the opening scene (I definitely did not shed a tear when Noodles shoots the bastard's sidekick in the head in the freight elevator scene a few minutes later).

Eve's character is developed a little more in the book, The Hoods. Noodles was still obsessed with Deborah (whose name is "Dolores" in the book), even though he now knows he has lost her forever. Although he is a big-time ladies' man, they were all unfulfilling one-night stands. Then he meets Eve, falls in love with her, and she moves in with him. (If she looked anything like her character in the movie, I don't blame him!)   

P.S.--It's beyond me why Darlanne Fluegel never made it big in the movies. The only role I remember her being in, after OUATIA, was that of  the long-suffering cop's wife (to Dennis Farina) in the late 1980s TV series "Crime Story." (Dennis's character on that show was a real schmuck--I definitely would've quit the force, or done whatever else was necessary, in order to stay married to HER!) 
7  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: The Hoods on: July 14, 2007, 01:00:41 AM
thanks I'll check it out

You'll be glad you did. I first saw this movie in 1986, when it came out on VHS (the full-length version, not the terrible "short" version). At that time my dad, who, like me, is a huge fan of the movie, told me it was based on a book he had read when he was in the Navy in the early 1950s. We were disappointed to find out that the book had long been out of print. It was a thrill to find out in the past year that the book had been reprinted. As soon as I found out, I ordered a copy for my dad and one for myself. I had waited over 20 years to finally be able to read it, and my dad finally got to reread it after more than 50 years. It was well worth the wait.     
8  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: Huh? on: July 14, 2007, 12:49:49 AM
Some of the films on this list are truly chilling. But for me, "Gimme Shelter" takes the grand prize--not only because it's true, but, even worse, because it's all REAL!

I start getting cold chills every new time I see the scene when the "Angels" invade the Jefferson Airplane set and knock out Marty Balin . . . that's when you know that the violence is really about to spiral out of control, until the 'Stones come on and all hell breaks loose.

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