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Question: Did James Woods jump into the garbage truck at the end of Once Upon a Time in America?
Yes   -34 (60.7%)
No   -9 (16.1%)
I really do not know   -13 (23.2%)
Total Voters: 52

Author Topic: Did James do it or not?  (Read 28468 times)
COLONNA
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« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2003, 02:33:33 AM »

Everybody seem to think that Max decided or not to jump himself.

I prefer the following idea, tell me what you think about:

The truck is sent by Mafia (remember Jimmy Hoffa) and Max knows it
Inside there are a driver and a killer
When Max approaches the driver start the motor
The killer shot Max and put the corpse in the smashing iron teeth

It's cleaner
It's a suicide
The truck is not prepared by Max before (very complicated no ?)  
Who is able to jump in a garbage truck ?Are you serious? Angry

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Walter
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« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2003, 03:05:38 AM »

The truck is not prepared by Max before (very complicated no ?)  
Who is able to jump in a garbage truck ?Are you serious? Angry

Max wanted Noodles to kill him, so it would be pretty natural for him to have arranged the truck to be there, in order to vanish completely (and then protecting Noodles).

There could be a killer on the truck, but what was the reason Max ran out, if it wasn't to meet the truck? He did not try to escape - surely he would have made a better attempt than just walk out into the night. In my opnion, he must have known the truck was going to be there.

In films, people do sensational things, and the ending might very well carry a lot of symbolic meaning. So the notion of Max jumping into the smashing iron teeth doesn't seem too unreasonable.
I wouldn't do it, but I haven't betrayed my friends for money and power either. Not yet, anyway...

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« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2004, 06:49:22 AM »

I am new to this board and this movie.  I watched it last night and thanks to my PVR I got to watch the last hour twice.  My thoughts are this.  

I think that the whole futuristic part of the film is an Opium induced dream.  I think that the truck is a symbolistic Metaphor "so to speak" of the end of That part of Noodle's life.  What makes me think this is that everything is pointing in that direction that he is coming out of his Opium induced state.  

Outside Of The Mansion he is walking towars what appears to be "The Chinese Theater." Which is an unusual location for such a place...  A sense of returning from his Dream... The Truck has some kind of symbolic meaning in the lights... Two lights... Two Eyes, Coming back into focus... The passing of the Truck does indeed indicate the erasing of Max From Noodles Life... Or it could be, in Fact... All these weird hallcunations start to occur as he's metaphorically walking back to the theater... The Truck, The Man behind the Truck, The tunnel... The lights... THE KIDS IN THE CAR!!! and still that Chinese Building.  

I guess we will never know truely, but my take is that his mind is rambling a bunch of hallucinated things as he is coming from dream into reality.  

I just bought this film online and I'm sure that I will have much more to say... Few movies have effected me this way... I am much in the state that I was in after seeing Apocolypse Now and Clockwork Orange.

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Jupa
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« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2004, 06:40:42 AM »

You made some good points.After all,the movie does end with Noodles getting high,and Sergio Leone was reported as hinting that the whole movie might be an opium-induced dream.However,Leone never gave a straight answer to this,just a vague hint.

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« Reply #34 on: March 09, 2004, 06:04:00 PM »

again this is up to us.....sergio wanted it, like most of the film, to be ambigous.....personally i believe he did or would. he made his feelings very clear to noodles. plus in a part that was taken out during editing, treat williams, jimmy conway,visits senator bailey and tells him basically to get rid of himself as he had brought too much heat on his polititcal allies. allies no more however, max knew that if he did not kill himself the politicians or the syndicate would. h would never accept this. the only person who he could accept death from was the man he loved and betrayed, the man whoes life he stole and ruined, yet then gives it back. wennoodles refuses for the reasons we all know, the senator only has one choice........

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« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2004, 09:05:39 AM »

No Senator Bailey didn't jump into the garbage truck.  To do so would be against his theory of craziness.  You see his father killed himself in the nut house.  Senator Bailey or Max whatever you want to call him never liked to be called "crazy" committing suicide would be a cowardly act.  I believe Senator Bailey  didn't kill himself he just escaped into the darkness.  Why would it be soo dark at that particular scene?  Unless the director wanted Senator Bailey to escape.  Plus when noodles looks into the Garbage you don't see one possible trace of human carnage.  Senator Bailey escapes only to fool with Noodles time again.  Time is stressed  alot in this movie.  When Noodles meets Max they meet through a watch.  However dreams don't ever have time they just happen when your sleeping.  Senator Bailey escapes and doesn't commit suicide is my main point to do so would be contradicting his charecter which tries to be opposite oh his nutty father.

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« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2004, 02:34:55 PM »

IMO you should not be so fixed on whether Max is jumping or not.

The whole garbage trunk scene is a parallel scene that repeats the ealier scene where the boys wait for the horsewagon to cover the cop's view, so they can rob the old man, and just there, Max I think it is, turns up, helping the man.

So it's all a kind of dejavu, something that comes out of Noodles memories, as an updated memory, as he stands in front of senator Bailey's house, realizing that his own view/mind all the time has been figuratively blocked and that life has been a failure.
Bingo!   When Noodles first sees Max he is riding on the front of rubbish wagon.  The last time he "sees" him he is leaving in the back of a rubbish truck.   Interestingly, there's a foreshadowing of this when Noodles gets out of prison and the first time he sees Max, Max is dfiviging the hearse - but the corpse in back is alive.

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« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2004, 03:38:01 PM »

One thing is certain..that scene is a work of cinematic genius.....the menacing garbage truck , the air of melancholy , the chinese garden visible in the background, the phantom car of young revellers disappearing into the depths of time....

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« Reply #38 on: November 16, 2004, 10:03:15 PM »

not to mention the amazing use of "god bless america" as a sort of summing up of the movie.

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Dlanor
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« Reply #39 on: November 20, 2004, 02:49:58 PM »

You made some good points.After all,the movie does end with Noodles getting high,and Sergio Leone was reported as hinting that the whole movie might be an opium-induced dream.However,Leone never gave a straight answer to this,just a vague hint.

 Leone said clearly that he made the second part thinking it was an opium dream in "Conversations". But , maybe he let the freedom to the viewer to not think it.
  This scene of disapearence of Max is really disturbing. No physical elements tends to proove that Max did it. But the fact that the shot of the truck is so long and these two damned red lights  answer symbolically to the audience question.

« Last Edit: January 08, 2005, 12:40:53 AM by Dlanor » Logged
Jupa
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« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2004, 09:00:59 AM »

When and where did Leone say it clearly that the second part was an opium dream?I understand he only vaguely hinted at the possibility of the whole thing being a hallucination or a dream.

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tsuris
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« Reply #41 on: December 30, 2004, 12:59:41 PM »

Ijust watched Woods'' interview on the DVD.  He says that he was on the set when the scene was filmed, but Leone used a stand-in on puppose to make Max''s fate less clear.


According to Christopher Frayling''''s Leone autobiography James Woods has overrun his contract, so a standin was used for that scene, not sure who played Woods'''' part. So James Woods didn''''t climb on the truck.

As far as the story goes I believe the senator does jump in the truck.

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vladamir44
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« Reply #42 on: December 30, 2005, 11:14:48 PM »

I thought the number of the garbage truck (35) was apt, as we know that Max built his current persona over the course of thirty-five years.  Just seconds before, Noodles expresses how unfortunate it would be for all that hard work to go to waste.  I guess the hand reaching out for help on the garbage truck was symbolic as well.

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C Youngblood
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« Reply #43 on: December 31, 2005, 03:49:21 PM »

Very good points.

My first thought, just after seeing the movie, was that the truck was there to kill Noodles, after Noodles had killed Max. But Noodles didn't kill Max, so Max ran out to tell this to the truckdriver. But many things that you have mentioned seemes sense. I really like the theory about the parallel between the garbage-wagon and  the garbage-truck.

But WHY IS NOODLES SMILING IN THE END Huh

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« Reply #44 on: December 31, 2005, 06:29:52 PM »

Couple things.   The first time we meet Max, he is driving a "garbage" wagon, or at least a junk wagon.  The last time we see him he is diving into the back of one.  He has gone from the front to the back during his life.

The other idea we see a few times is that he's always making Noodles believe he is dead.   Is the last dive into the truck just another trick?

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