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Author Topic: The movie's biggest flaws/your pet peeves?  (Read 26808 times)
noodles_leone
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« Reply #75 on: January 28, 2014, 02:28:47 AM »

Yep! It could have hurt the film if it was a thriller or a whodunit. But it's not an Agatha Christie adaptation. The effect it's trying to achieve is emotions, not a rational "OOOOW! IT WAS MAX ALL ALONG!!! IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW! OWNED!!!".

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« Reply #76 on: January 28, 2014, 03:24:07 AM »

(as an aside: if you consider the scenes that Leone wanted in the film and arre being added back in now - like the one in the cemetery and the one with Bailey's limo, etc. - then the movie does seem more of a literal mystery - still is symbolic, but more of a literal mystery as well, than it is in the 229MV. But that's just an aside. Anyway, point is that...) I am willing to accept a lot - perhaps even the idea that the cemetery would actually be sold and dug up (a Jewish cemetery would never be allowed to be dug up in a million years) but keeping their life's savings in a locker in a public place like that in which any two-bit thief could get to it, that's just ridiculous. That could have easily been written differently without affecting the story. They could have kept it hidden anywhere else - maybe behind a wall in Fat Moe's restaurant - and the story would work just the same, without that implausibility that IMO goes way beyond the usual suspension of disbelief. RE: the cemetery - though a Jewish cemetery would never be dug up, and while it's true that another reason could have been used for calling Noodles back in 1968 (and then the phony memorial plaque could have been erected somewhere other than a mausoleum, e.g. in a synagogue, which often have memorial  plaques) I can live with the cemetery angle, cuz it works for the symbolism of the past being dug up. For some reason, that never bothered me as much as the part about the suitcase.... What if it was the Mona Lisa being stashed in the railway locker? Would you accept that? Well, to these guys, the million bucks is all they have "worked" (and stolen and killed) for all their lives, they would guard that as you would guard the Mona Lisa. Maybe not behind a bomb-proof safe, but a railway locker? No adult would keep ten bucks there, let alone your life's savings

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« Reply #77 on: January 28, 2014, 04:06:56 AM »

...a Jewish cemetery would never be allowed to be dug up in a million years...

I think there are lots of examples in history where this has happened.  A search on Google for 'relocation jewish cemetery' produces 338,000 results.

Just picking 3 examples from the 338,000:

http://www.rookwoodjewishcemetery.com.au/page/our-history

http://www.zegk.uni-heidelberg.de/hist/ausstellungen/harbin/cemetery.html

http://digitalassets.ushmm.org/photoarchives/detail.aspx?id=1173810


There's an old thread on spoilers flaws and interpretations and the flaws have been discussed many times before:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=6647.0

Quick recap:

Bailey's anonymity

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.

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.

...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.

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.

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).

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.

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. Cheesy

Train station Lockers

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.

"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.

... the part about the suitcase in the locker is silly... I just think it was a poorly written piece of the screenplay. In fact, it's the single biggest thing that bothers me about my favorite movie of all-time. (Sure, there are other things that aren't explained properly because of the all the cut scenes, some of which will now be restored), but the suitcase is just an atrocious bit of script. Sure, it makes sense that some kids who make a few bucks would keep the suitcase with their earnings there; kids aren't that smart. But an adult gang of successful bootleggers/hitmen, with a million dollars put away, would keep all their earnings in a suitcase in a locker at a bus/train station? That is simply ridiculous.

My point with the lockers is that, throughout the movie, several events and circumstances are slightly unrealistic.  If the reason for accepting the dream theory is to try to reconcile things such as the bullet holes in the sheet, the telephone ringing, age shall not wither her, Bailey's anonymity, the garbage truck scene, the pagoda, the procession of 1930s cars, there are other things in the earlier time periods such as gangsters keeping cash in lockers at a railway station which can't be explained by the dream theory.

Stream trains and railway stations are conducive to romantic and nolstagic images, banks are not.  It's all part of Leone's style, imagination and his way of film-making. Realism comes well down in his order of priorities.
 
Sergio Leone: "Detail is important but it is not everything.  Vision is everything."


The first time I saw the movie I didn't like the ambiguity of the ending or Bailey's anonymity. I think I now understand much better Leone's reasons for the ambiguity and his take on the dream double reading.  The movie may have appealed to a wider audience and be more instantly appreciated if these had been simplified but then we probably would not be talking about it as much 30 years after the release date.

 

« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 04:27:30 AM by chris » Logged
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« Reply #78 on: January 28, 2014, 04:19:36 AM »

Thanks Chris.

I was already pretty smart back in 2007.

D&D: as a matter of fact, the case was stolen, so yeah, it was a stupid idea, but they did it anyway (because people are stupid) and got what they deserved. This is plain realism.  Tongue

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« Reply #79 on: January 28, 2014, 05:55:09 AM »

I think there are lots of examples in history where this has happened.  A search on Google for 'relocation jewish cemetery' produces 338,000 results.

Just picking 3 examples from the 338,000:

http://www.rookwoodjewishcemetery.com.au/page/our-history

http://www.zegk.uni-heidelberg.de/hist/ausstellungen/harbin/cemetery.html

http://digitalassets.ushmm.org/photoarchives/detail.aspx?id=1173810

 

getting a Google hit doesn't mean anything.

Judaism has very strict laws about the treatment of a corpse.

There are in fact times when - with very complicated laws and specifications – the corpse of a jew may be moved, but there are lots of circumstances and laws that have to be kept. E.g. I once heard an Orthodox Jewish soldier in WWII speak (he passed away very recently), his brother was killed in the war, buried in France; after the war, this soldier wanted to move the body from the military cemetery in France to Israel, but there were lots of difficulties, it was a very complicated procedure to fulfill all the religious laws about moving a body, and he ultimately decided to leave the body in the cemetery in France.

When someone buys a plot in a cemetery, they own that piece of land, and it can't be taken away from them.

There is absolutely no way that a synagogue that owns a cemetery can say, "We wanna sell the land, all you people that have relatives buried there, you gotta move them." That would not only be  a violation of Jewish law, but it would be a violation of a contract – buying a cemetery plot means you own that piece of land, period. Not just Jewish law - I doubt that would be allowed in America at all. I do know that in some countries like France that don't believe that a corpse needs to be treated respectfully, there are laws that they can basically dig up any body after 100 years.

I'm telling you there is absolutely no way in the world that a synagogue would tell its congregants, "we're selling the cemetery, you gotta move your relatives." No way.

However, as I said, this implausibility doesn't bother me terribly, because having the cemetery dug up adds to the symbolism of Noodles's return, having his past dug up.

But the railway locker is the biggest bullshit in any Leone movie ever. Heck, it may be the biggest bullshit in any movie ever. Yes, n_l, if anyone is so stupid to do that, then they deserve to lose the money. Absolutely. But there is also absolutely no way anyone who isn't retarded would do that.

And, as I said, the script could have so easily been changed so that this would make sense. It could have been hidden ANYWHERE else. That's another reason this bothers me so much - because having it in the railway locker isn't necessary for the story. In the case of the cemetery, I can live with that sort of bullshit since it adds to the symbolism, it adds to the story (and besides, most people don't know Jewish law and wouldn't pick up on it; there are other mistakes about Judaism in the movie that most people wouldn't pick up on [e.g. Fat Moe's father would never ever have his daughter watch the store on Passover; no religious Jew would ever enter their place of business on Passover] but most people don't know about that stuff, and therefore, [as in the case of a courtroom movie that has mistakes in the law] that stuff doesn't bother me. But the suitcase in the railway locker is utterly ridiculous, and could so easily have been changed, so IMO it is a major flaw.

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« Reply #80 on: January 28, 2014, 06:09:37 AM »

And, as I said, the script could have so easily been changed so that this would make sense. It could have been hidden ANYWHERE else. That's another reason this bothers me so much - because having it in the railway locker isn't necessary for the story.

Yes it is. It's strong and beautiful. And it has something to do with childhood, dreams and cinema. Just like the key that Fat Moe left in the clock for 35 years. Who would do that? It's just fucking awesome. I'm willing to sacrifice any realism to get the scenes Leone got with that locker.

I know you won't agree and I don't want you to feel you've wasted your time. So here's a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf:


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« Reply #81 on: January 28, 2014, 06:50:36 AM »

...When someone buys a plot in a cemetery, they own that piece of land, and it can't be taken away from them...

I think we'll agree to differ on this one. I live close to a large Jewish community and some years ago one of the major supermarket chains wanted to develop an area there that was falling into disrepair.  Part of the plans required the relocation of a cemetery and the graves, no-one objected and the relocation went ahead.

The three examples above were just the first three that came up and there may be better examples.  The information in them seems clear.

The New Rookwood Jewish Cemetery  http://www.rookwoodjewishcemetery.com.au/page/our-history

The Devonshire Cemetery was relocated at Botany and Raphael Cemeteries in 1902 to make room for Sydney’s Central Railway Station.

In 1905 the tombstones and remains of the Raphael family were removed to Section 4 of the New Rookwood Jewish Cemetery.

In 1901, the cemetery was resumed to allow for the development of Central railway station, Sydney and representatives of deceased persons buried in the Devonshire Street cemetery were given two months to arrange for exhumation and removal of remains from the cemetery. All reasonable costs were borne by the Government of New South Wales. The remains that were unclaimed were relocated to a purpose-built cemetery named Bunnerong Cemetery. Remains that were claimed were transferred to a number of cemeteries as listed below. Bunnerong Cemetery, south of the city, had a tram line constructed to make the removal of recasketed remains as simple as possible. Bunnerong Cemetery was next to the Botany Cemetery and, in the early 1970s, was absorbed by that cemetery to create the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

The Jewish Cemetery in Harbin  http://www.zegk.uni-heidelberg.de/hist/ausstellungen/harbin/cemetery.html

In the 1920's it had to be expanded and was relocated to Tai’an Street (now the site of the Ice Sports Center of Heilongjiang Province).

In 1958, the Chinese authorities decided to move the Jewish Cemetery to the Public Cemetery (since 1991 named Huang Shan Public Cemetery) located on the outskirts about ten kilometers from Harbin in the East. From approximate 3000 graves of which 1200 with tombstones, 853 were selected and transferred to an area of 6.532.00 square meters. On December 31, 1963, the Jewish community stopped functioning. Until that date 23 graves were added to the new location, bringing a total of 876 graves to the site. Only 480 gravestones could be identified today.

Photo Archives  http://digitalassets.ushmm.org/photoarchives/detail.aspx?id=1173810
Slovak Jews relocate the tombstones and coffins from the old Jewish cemetery to new Orthodox cemetery farther from the city center to make way for a tramway tunnel.

Oakdale Cemetery NC  http://www.oakdalecemetery.org/history.asp
The beauty and prestige of Oakdale led to a large-scale removal of bodies from other burial grounds and cemeteries. Some 80 graves were relocated from St. James and dozens from plantations, most occurring between 1856 and 1859, but some as late as 1923. Reinterments are responsible for markers that bear death dates well before Oakdale was created.

 

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« Reply #82 on: January 28, 2014, 07:09:03 AM »

Yes it is. It's strong and beautiful. And it has something to do with childhood, dreams and cinema. Just like the key that Fat Moe left in the clock for 35 years. Who would do that? It's just fucking awesome. I'm willing to sacrifice any realism to get the scenes Leone got with that locker.



But that is precisely my point - none of the strength, beauty, childhood, dreams, cinema, key in the clock, etc. has to be sacrificed for the realism (btw, it's not actual realism I'm looking for, but movie realism, within the realm of usual suspension of disbelief, etc.); That key could have been to a locker or safe anywhere else - somewhere secure. It didn't have to be at the train station. So, you can keep all these beautiful themes and everything you love about the movie, like "I brought back the key to your clock."


Anyway, I'd love for you to tell me what themes, beauty, strength, etc. etc. would be lost by having the money kept somewhere that made sense?

---------------

btw, once we're discussing the subject of the locker - I once listened to the Richard Schickel dvd commentary; I remember that when we see the scene with Noodles finding the key at the cemetery – in addition to the one that he brought back to Fat Moe – Schickel pointed out that it was important to note, see , there has been a second key.
Of  course, I'm not doubting how it was possible for Max to get into the locket on his own - as I said previously, that would have been easy for anyone to do. I am just wondering - when Noodles returns in 1968 and finds all that money in the locker, is it the same locker as the one he found empty in 1933? It's a minor point, but I was never sure if it's actually the same locker or one nearby. Can you tell if it's the same one?

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« Reply #83 on: January 28, 2014, 07:25:55 AM »

But that is precisely my point - none of the strength, beauty, childhood, dreams, cinema, key in the clock, etc. has to be sacrificed for the realism (btw, it's not actual realism I'm looking for, but movie realism, within the realm of usual suspension of disbelief, etc.); That key could have been to a locker or safe anywhere else - somewhere secure.

A railway locker is cool. It's like burying a chest in a desert island. It's not actually safe, but it's cool and cinematic. What would be anti-cinematic would be a scene where the gang come together to the railway locker and say:

"Now we're adults, let's change the location of the briefcase to a pointless place that has nothing to do with our childhood"
"Oh yeah that's a great idea Max, that's much safer."

I'm curious to see if that scene would have made it to the 229min cut. Then of course in the introduction of the movie we would have seen Noodles go to that other place where absolutely nothing interesting nor moving ever happened, find an empty case and leave. That wouldn't change at all the intensity of the film as it is. I'm really wondering why Leone didn't think of it.

Here is a picture of Christopher Walken and Al Pacino hanging out.



You didn't even aknowledge the Lenny pic, but nobody can look at this one without smiling. If it doesn't work, just imagine the face of Danny DeVito when he'll notice that Pacino stole his tuxedo.

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« Reply #84 on: January 28, 2014, 07:32:35 AM »

chris,

I am not doubting that Jewish cemeteries have been moved over the years. I am just saying Jewish law wouldn't allow it for this reason  - just to sell the land and tell the families to move the bodies. The way the movie has it, the synagogue sent letters to the families - we're moving the cemetery, move the bodies. That would never have happened. Never ever ever. Ever. I even just called a rabbi on the phone now and confirmed with him to be 100% sure - even though I already was 100% sure  Wink

Sure, Jewish cemeteries have been moved. There are untold numbers of ancient cemeteries in Europe which, after the Holocaust, (whatever was left of) the Jewish communities left the cities, and the cemeteries were desecrated, paved over to make way for shopping centers, apartments, stadiums, etc. and in order to preserve what was remaining and prevent further desecration, Jews moved the bodies elsewhere, so that they could remain in a proper Jewish burial. That was extenuating circumstances - moving the bodies to a safe place so that wouldn't be desecrated. Technically, it's allowable - under very specific circumstances and with very strict specifications – If you want to know how complicated the laws are, just remember that the Jewish soldier I met left his brother in a military cemetery in France rather than move him to a Jewish cemetery in Israel, because of all the complex conditions and laws incolved in moving a buried body – But not simply for a synagogue in America to say, "hey, we wanna sell the land, move the bodies." Sure, by the time Noodles gets back, the neighborhood has changed quite a bit, there are much less Jews and looks to be mostly Hispanic, but we're certainly not at a point where the cemetery is in danger of desecration and it's being moved for that reason... RE: your links that would explain the moving of cemeteries in places where there are no longer thriving Jewish communities. RE: the other links, I'd have to know the specific situations. (I can only speak for what those who follow the Jewish traditions i.e. the Orthodox, would do. I can't speak for Reform or Conservative Jews would do - they don't follow Jewish traditions, they just made up something in the past 300 years that can be summarized with, "The Torah doesn't apply in these modern times, so do whatever you want.... However, the community Noodles grew up in is clearly Orthodox – even though he and his gang certainly do not follow the religion, the cemetery they were buried in was administered by their Orthodox families' synagogue, Fat Moe's father, who certainly was ultra-orthodox, was buried in the same cemetery... Bottom line is that while under extenuating circumstances, bodies can be moved with very strict guidelines, the chance that an Orthodox synagogue in New York would one day just decide to just sell the cemetery and have all the bodies be moved is ZERO.

I just wanted to set the record straight about that  Wink although, as I said, this part of the movie does not bother me because A) most viewers wouldn't be aware of this; and B) having the cemetery aspect adds to the symbolism of the movie.

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« Reply #85 on: January 28, 2014, 07:38:12 AM »

A railway locker is cool. It's like burying a chest in a desert island. It's not actually safe, but it's cool and cinematic. What would be anti-cinematic would be a scene where the gang come together to the railway locker and say:

"Now we're adults, let's change the location of the briefcase to a pointless place that has nothing to do with our childhood"
"Oh yeah that's a great idea Max, that's much safer."

I'm curious to see if that scene would have made it to the 229min cut. Then of course in the introduction of the movie we would have seen Noodles go to that other place where absolutely nothing interesting nor moving ever happened, find an empty case and leave. That wouldn't change at all the intensity of the film as it is. I'm really wondering why Leone didn't think of it.

Here is a picture of Christopher Walken and Al Pacino hanging out.

----

You didn't even aknowledge the Lenny pic, but nobody can look at this one without smiling. If it doesn't work, just imagine the face of Danny DeVito when he'll notice that Pacino stole his tuxedo.

you're right, there is no place as cool and interesting as a railway locker  Roll Eyes  Tongue 


Does the Lenny Kravitz picture come up because we are having a conversation about Judaism?  Grin You know his mother (and therefore he) is not Jewish  Wink

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« Reply #86 on: January 28, 2014, 07:53:01 AM »

on this subject, n_l, what the hell is with this French law that allows any body to be removed from a grave after 99 years?



http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.555363

this story is very brief, it doesn't go into the details (they are pretty crazy).... I can get a longer story if you are interested. But how the hell can gov't decide to remove any body from a grave after a century?

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« Reply #87 on: January 28, 2014, 08:10:29 AM »

chris, I am not doubting that Jewish cemeteries have been moved over the years...
Good.  I get the feeling we'll never agree on this.  I'm not sure if you told the Rabbi that the cemetery had fallen into disrepair, the area was to be renovated and everything was being relocated to a larger modern cemetery in a different area.  But as you say it's not a particularly important point.

The location of the locker is the same,  top row 2nd from right but the locker number is different.

541 in 1920s & 1930s to 636 in 1968  (the numbers can be seen clearly on the extended Blu-ray).













  

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« Reply #88 on: January 28, 2014, 08:14:09 AM »

you're right, there is no place as cool and interesting as a railway locker  Roll Eyes  Tongue  

Not a single one. Remember OUATITW? Where does Elam lock the railway agent? Is there anything cooler than this scene with Elam and the old guy (apart from the scene with Elam and the fly, but a briefcase doesn't fit in the barrel of a gun)?

on this subject, n_l, what the hell is with this Franch law that allows any body to be removed from a grave after 99 years?



http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.555363

this story is very brief, it doesn't go into the details (they are pretty crazy).... I can get a longer story if you are interested. But how the hell can gov't decide to remove any body from a grave after a century?

Haha! It's easy to say when living in the USA where you still have room! We're in old Europe. There are people and stuff all over the place. I'm not concerned because I'll be buried under OUATITW's arch near Monument Valley.

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« Reply #89 on: January 28, 2014, 08:33:07 AM »

Good.  I get the feeling we'll never agree on this.  I'm not sure if you told the Rabbi that the cemetery had fallen into disrepair, the area was to be renovated and everything was being relocated to a larger modern cemetery in a different area.  But as you say it's not a particularly important point.

  

There's no indication that the cemetery was in danger of being desecrated, and it's not true that everything was being relocated to a larger modern cemetery in a different area - the bodies of Noodles's 3 friends happened to have been moved to the fancy cemetery in Riverdale by some unknown person, but generally, it was up to the family of each dead person to move each body to wherever they wanted to buy a plot. The synagogue was selling the cemetery and telling all the families that had bought plots and buried loves ones there, "time to move." That would never happen.

Thanks for posting the pics of the locker  Afro

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