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Author Topic: Gabutti's "C'era una volta in America"  (Read 5678 times)
chris
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« on: December 12, 2015, 05:11:18 AM »

Diego Gabutti:     C'era una volta in America  Un'avventura al saloon con Sergio Leone



First published in 1984 to coincide with the release of Once Upon A Time In America and has recently been reprinted.  There are 165 pages covering all Leone's movies, actors he worked with and his involvement in The Bicycle Thief, Ben Hur etc.  Also available as an e-book and Kindle.  Written in Italian but the translate function for the Kindle edition can provide a reasonable English translation.  Not perfect but it was good enough for me.

Diego Gabutti was a friend of Sergio Leone for several years and during the filming of Once Upon A Time In America, Leone invited him onto several of the sets including those in New York, Venice, Cinecitta and the Presidential Estate of Capocotta.  Gabutti also had meetings with Leone at his home and had access to Leone's private library.  During his conversations with Leone, Gabutti took extensive notes and put these into this book.  It is authorised by Leone who has written the preface.

It's good to read Leone's words on all his films, the actors he worked with and what it was like on the sets.

Some brief examples relating to OUATIA:

Garbage truck and exploding car scene filmed at Capocotta

Leone was not satisfied with early attempts at filming the exploding car scene and several twenty year old sedans had to be used and destroyed. The Chinese pagoda was fake and walls were made of thin polystyrene.  Gabutti almost destroyed part of the set by leaning on a wall.

Rescuing a shipment using salt

Most sources say that this was filmed at Porto Marghera Venice.  However at one of his meetings with Leone Gabutti says that Leone had just returned from Hong Kong where the rescuing a shipment using salt scene was filmed.  Gabutti was with Leone when the fancy restaurant scene was filmed in Venice.

Breaking glass

Gabutti was used to smash glass in one of the scenes (the shooting of Eve?)

420 minute version

In November 1983 the Ladd Company made it clear to Leone that they would reassemble and cut the movie for the American version.  The scenes would be put into chronological order and they aimed to get the running time down to 160 minutes.  According to Gabutti by that time Leone had assembled enough material for a 7 hour (420 min) version and the Ladd Company would be quite happy for Leone's version to be shown in theaters and longer versions on TV in Europe.

Leone's conversations with Alan Ladd jnr including the duration, chronology and the bed sheet with holes

Alan Ladd's quite reasonable to me questions and Leone's rather brutal replies

Leone's first meeting with Harry Grey

Further descriptions of their first meeting in a bar in Greenpoint Avenue near the New Calvary Cemetery in Queens.  The taxi driver who took Leone there kept singing Frank Sinatra songs and Grey had recently come out of prison.  This may explain why he is hard to find in Ron Arons' database of Sing Sing prison inmates.  Ron's records only go up to 1940 and he was only concerned with inmates with Jewish sounding names.  By that time Harry had changed his surname to Grey.

 

« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 12:35:41 AM by chris » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2016, 03:56:51 PM »

thanks for the info

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Harry Goldberg
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2016, 04:13:04 AM »

I read it in one breath... thank you Chris, very detailed meeting with Goldberg, but it doesn't mention when or if Harry has been in Sing Sing, and then how can you say he changed his last name into Grey in his 40s?

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chris
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2016, 07:30:32 AM »

I read it in one breath... thank you Chris, very detailed meeting with Goldberg, but it doesn't mention when or if Harry has been in Sing Sing, and then how can you say he changed his last name into Grey in his 40s?

Apologies for the fairly poor quality of the translation - I only studied Latin, French and German at school - Italian wasn't an option.  Nevertheless for me it adequately conveys the gist of the book's contents.

Page 31
Leone (speaking about their first meeting in 1968) : "He had been released from jail only a few years before..."

Sing Sing is mentioned 3 times in Gabutti's book:

Page 27
Leone (speaking about HG) : "Prohibition, Sing Sing, beatings on his back, unionism mafia shootings. He had been everywhere, he had seen everything..."

Page 32
Leone (speaking about HG) : "It was his wife who told me the whole story. She had led him to write the book while he was at Sing Sing..."

Page 34
Leone (speaking about HG) : "There was this guy, an inmate at Sing Sing, he wrote his memoirs to kill time and to put the lie, above all, to the endless legends in films about american gangsterism..."

The Hoods was first published in 1952 by which time Harry had changed his surname to Grey.  The 1945 census may clarify the date of the change of name and whether Harry was then an inmate in Sing Sing. There is of course the possibility that Harry and his wife lied to Sergio Leone.

 

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Harry Goldberg
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2016, 09:31:38 AM »

We have no evidence.
Please track 1945 and even 1950 census to find if Goldberg became Grey... or even 60s or 70s, censuses aren't stopped at 40s.

Then, i don't think his wife lied to Leone, so what about Maxie? He's been in jail with him (reading Gabutti), then he's been arrested in the 70s after a failed bank shot and broadcast in TV , and jailed at San Quentin.. maybe some database could show him.. or maybe Max wasn't his real name.. could you try to search for him?



*Curiosity: we accepted, according to Palm Spring Star promoted by his son Simeon, that his name was Herschel Golberg and was born in Kiev (not Odessa), anyway i read the dedication written by Simeon and it says "Heschel Goldberg" (2nd page); maybe it was mistranslated, or maybe his real name was actually Heschel and not Herschel as we have established...

http://www.lb2121.webspace.virginmedia.com/sources/palmsprings.pdf

Anyway, our last thing to discover will be (as ever) his photo: first clue, he was bald in his 70s  Grin  Grin


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Harry Goldberg
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2016, 02:15:35 AM »

Chris, answer for God's sake

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chris
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2016, 03:10:40 AM »

This is old stuff that has been discussed before.

There is a time lag between a census being taken and being made available to the general public in a searchable form (more than 70 years).

The latest easily searchable census for New York is 1940 and this was made available in July 2012. I would not expect the 1945 census to be available in a searchable form until at least July 2017.

We don't have Max's real name but if you want, feel free to try to search for a guy you don't know the name of.

Regarding the photo I have no real interest.  Considerable time and money could be spent on searching for a photo with no guarantee of success and in any event we have Leone's description, photos of family members and our own idea of what he looked like.  Frankly that's good enough for me.

 

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Harry Goldberg
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2016, 03:38:44 AM »

1. Really?? What's your idea of his looks? Old De Niro (1968 Fat Moe's scene)? Young De Niro? E. G. Robinson? De Niro and Robinson mixed together?  Grin

2. I thought Max was the real name... isn'it?

3. What family members photos do we have? Only 3 black and white Hyman pics in his late years?

*It's not sure two brothers look like, then i think if Leone depicted old Goldberg bald he was probably like that (base on their first meeting, just like Fat Moe's speakeasy).

4. Do you have an idea of what's the cafe (near Calvary Cemetery, Queens) Leone and Harry met?

« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 03:55:13 AM by Harry Goldberg » Logged
LITTLE BIG MAN
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2016, 10:31:38 AM »

Thanks for posting Chris😉👍
Found it interesting that it was Brian Freilino (Dialogue Director) that came up with the 1968 Big Apple mural😳
Amazing😉👍

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titoli
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 08:11:42 AM »

I've finally managed to read this unescapable addendum to the Leonian bibliography. It is full of reflections on cinema and infos which will interest any fan, though I guess most of them must be checked twice. Some examples: Leone says his family was antifascist. But a few pages before says his father was a first hour fascist who started having problems when the secretary of his chapter ran away with party money. Uh. Worth investigating deeper. Again, he says that FOD was first shown in one of the worst roman cinemas, the Galleria, due to Amati (most important roman cinemas owner at the time) not thinking much of the movie. Gabutti, not being roman, didn't reply observing that the cinema was one of the most important of the city, located downtown in front of the House of Deputies. Leone says he's got two university degrees (one in law). Uh, I don't know.  And so on.
I found interesting that the story of OUTW was concocted during tennis matches with Bertolucci and Argento: which explains this last inclusion in the credits. He also says that the Juan's role was thought up with Robards in mind: no mention of Walllach. He also seems to credit Age and Scarpelli with a large role in GBU, which I had always thought was the case. And so on. I don't know if this has been mentioned, but the 420' version of the last movie was sold to TV's at the time and was in the hand of Milchan.


« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 08:14:58 AM by titoli » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2017, 10:00:37 AM »

I think we discussed this here:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=12347.0

I've been wanting to pick this one up for a while now. I'm waiting until I have enough things to order in one go from amazon.it...

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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2017, 10:46:39 AM »

Thanks.

What's your theory about Age and Scarpelli? I'm not familiar at all with their work on previous films apart from what Leone said about them. I always thought his side of the story was weird though.

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titoli
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 10:51:33 AM »


Yeah, that's misleading because the book is about all his movies, life and OUTA is only a part of the story (and the one that does interest me less as I don't like the movie). 

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titoli
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 11:02:29 AM »

I'll add that the tv version of America it is said it had been sold before the cinema release to various tv's for 7 million dollars. This particular shows that something strange must have happened there: those interested should ask Milchan.

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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 03:05:30 PM »

What's your theory about Age and Scarpelli? I'm not familiar at all with their work on previous films apart from what Leone said about them. I always thought his side of the story was weird though.
Yeah, is there something about the film that seems to bear their fingerprints? Any comments on this would be appreciated.

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