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: Is it more a man's movie - alternate ending?  ( 12401 )
mal247
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« : May 17, 2007, 03:04:34 AM »

This is the best film I have ever seen but not everyone shares my view and I wonder why. 

My son likes it but both my daughter in law and wife think it is too long, puzzling and has an unsatisfactory ending.  Initially I wondered if the differences in views has something to do with Noodles and Max's treatment of women.  Alarmingly, for a group of gangsters, I find them very charismatic but after the rape scenes etc some female viewers seem to lose all empathy with the characters.

In addition there are numerous happenings in the story after 1933 which don't seem quite logical:

Max engineers a fake death and doesn't seem to care that this will inevitably lead to the deaths of some of his best friends

Max forgets about his life's dream of robbing the Federal Reserve Bank

Noodles is heavily drugged with opium yet manages to quickly shake it off and go to Moe's and shoot a hitman

Although Secretary Bailey is a prominent politician, no pictures of him seem to have been published in the newspapers or on TV and Noodles, Moe and perhaps even Carol don't know his true identity. 

Seems ludicrous that Moe's sister has been living with the man for many years, has brought up a child the spitting image of Max and still Moe doesn't know who he is. 

Carol doesn't seem to recognise Deborah in the photograph at the Bailey Institute unless she is faking it and doesn't want to spoil the surprise for Noodles and the viewer.

For those who think that all events after 1933 were a figment of Noodles imagination in an opium induced dream, this could make sense.  I have woken many times from dreams and realised that some of the events I have dreamed about were not logical and could not have happened in real life.

My problem with the dream theory is that many viewers will feel cheated - imagine that the last episode of Lost reveals that Hurley lost his mind after winning the lottery, went into an Institute, took drugs and the plane crash and all events on the island were a figment of his imagination in a drug induced dream. Many of the viewers who had stuck with the series for many many hours would feel cheated.

I hope that some of the unpublished footage is made available to the public and if a 6 hour version - which arguably was Sergio's preferred duration for the film - is ever put together, I would certainly queue up for it. Some people do not like the garbage truck near the end and although I do not mind the ambiguity, I always expect to see something glistening - the silver watch - at the back of the truck. One way or another Max is going to die.

Although it's probably impossible, I suppose my dream is for a 6 hour version including the garbage truck but sorting out the unreal happenings after 1933 and ending in 1968 - a few days later - at Max's funeral.  How he died can be left a mystery and the final shot would be Noodles Deborah and David junior together at Max's funeral, embracing each other and giving each other long looks, and Noodles saying to Deborah "I'm sorry".  What he is sorry about can be left to the viewers' imagination.

« : June 10, 2007, 03:44:01 AM mal247 »
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« #1 : May 17, 2007, 08:20:15 AM »

1. Max engineers a fake death and doesn't seem to care that this will inevitably lead to the deaths of some of his best friends

2. Max forgets about his life's dream of robbing the Federal Reserve Bank

3. Noodles is heavily drugged with opium yet manages to quickly shake it off and go to Moe's and shoot a hitman

4. Although Mr Bailey is a prominent politician, no pictures of him seem to have been published in the newspapers or on TV and Noodles, Moe and perhaps even Carol don't know his true identity. 

5. Seems ludicrous that Moe's sister has been living with the man for many years, has had a child the spitting image of Max and still Moe doesn't know who he is. 

6. Carol doesn't seem to recognise Deborah in the photograph at the Bailey Institute unless she is faking it and doesn't want to spoil the surprise for Noodles and the viewer.

I've numbered these points for easy response, to wit:

1. Max is a sociopath.

2. Perhaps it was always just a con.

3. The term "heavily drugged" is a subjective designation. We don't really know how much Noodles has taken, nor do we know what his tolerance is. He is, we discover, a habitual user.

4. Inexplicable.

5. Inexplicable.

6. Inexplicable.


These problems can be explained without recourse to a dream theory: they are storytelling errors. That being the simplest explanation, that's the one I'm going with. These problems count against the film, but not to the extent that they ruin the whole. There are so many things in the movie's favor, that these relatively slight failings are easily overlooked.

Finally, SL made movies about men for men. It doesn't surprise me that women generally don't cotton to his films. OUATIA in particular features misogynist gangsters, and I can't imagine many women who would find three and a half hours in their company entertaining.



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mal247
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« #2 : May 17, 2007, 11:23:06 AM »

Seems a shame to exclude half the audience especially since many women prefer the bad guy to the good guy in films.  At present my wife loves Sawyer (conman and murderer) in Lost and T-Bag (rapist and murderer) in Prison Break. 

A substantial part of the film is devoted to Noodles and Max in their younger days which does a lot to humanise them and explain their later behaviour. Certainly Eve Carol and later Deborah like being in their company and if Noodles could have said sorry, I am sure a lot of females in the audience would have been attracted to him.   

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« #3 : May 17, 2007, 02:21:35 PM »

Gee, would a "sorry" cover a rape? With most women, I don't think so.



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« #4 : May 17, 2007, 03:22:27 PM »

Seems ludicrous that Moe's sister has been living with the man for many years, has had a child the spitting image of Max and still Moe doesn't know who he is.

People always seem to get this wrong (Dave Jenkin's, hang your head in shame). David jnr is NOT Deborah's son. He looks like Max because he is Max's son.

Deborah tells Noodles that Max/Secretary Baily had married a wealthy woman and had a son. She died at his birth. This never named wealthy woman is David's mother, not Deborah.

At the start of the film Mo tells Noodles he hasn't seen his sister "for years". We never know how long Deborah's relationship with Max has been going on when Noodles catches up with her.

In this age of information technology it does seem odd that Max wouldn't have his face in the papers, and if he were an elected official it would be something of a prerequisite. However, he is a "secretary", so what exactly does that position entail, or is so fictionally vague that it means nothing, that he can be like a man with huge power like Howard Hughes who never has his picture taken? As you can tell, I dismiss the dream theory completely. Beyond a capricious, throwaway remark Leone made in just interview it seems to have no other concrete support.

I've found that this is the only Leone film a lot of women I know can watch and enjoy, not being able to get beyond the genre trappings of the Western. An old girlfriend wrote her thesis on the film, and I've often had gal pals request a screening when they spot it in my collection.


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« #5 : May 17, 2007, 04:15:55 PM »

Its a good movie,not flawless but with many great moments.

Mrs Banjo loves Leones westerns but she got fed upwith OUATIA very quickly mainly because of the gore (she gave up after about 10 minutes)but she hates ganster films anyway.She loves horses so she got really upset with The Godfather for obvious reasons.

I'm actually glad she won't watch OUATIA because its hard enough watching that OTT rape scene by myself let alone with my wife who i'd know would be extremely upset and disturbed to see that scene.

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« #6 : May 17, 2007, 08:34:49 PM »

People always seem to get this wrong (Dave Jenkin's, hang your head in shame). David jnr is NOT Deborah's son. He looks like Max because he is Max's son.

In this age of information technology it does seem odd that Max wouldn't have his face in the papers, and if he were an elected official it would be something of a prerequisite. However, he is a "secretary", so what exactly does that position entail, or is so fictionally vague that it means nothing, that he can be like a man with huge power like Howard Hughes who never has his picture taken?
I duly hang my head in shame. Of course I know the truth because I've read your earlier posts making the point. Still, it's odd that Moe doesn't know the details of his sister's life. Even if he has not been in touch with her personally, he could still follow her career in the media. She is something of a celebrity, so little of her life could be kept secret from someone who really wanted to find out about her. Moe has made no attempt to learn about his sister all these years? An afternoon in the periodicals section of the New York Public Library could easily bring him up to speed. Even if she is an intensely private person, learning about her would be easy (and if it weren't, he could always hire an investigator). The only way it is credible that Moe doesn't know about Deborah is that he has spent 35 years resolutely refusing to learn anything about her, which is a weird idea.

Now it's time for Juan Miranda to hang his head in shame: a "Secretary" is a member of the U.S. President's cabinet (eg. Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of the Interior, etc.) An appointed official, not elected, he/she is nonetheless a highly visible member of the government, particularly if scandal is attached to the individual. There is absolutely NO WAY such a person could escape public scrutiny, so Secretary Bailey would have his face all over the media. He'd also be issuing statements personally, not through intermediaries. This is a flaw in the movie, one I chalk up to SL's unfamiliarity with American politics.



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« #7 : May 17, 2007, 08:52:32 PM »



I'm actually glad she won't watch OUATIA because its hard enough watching that OTT rape scene by myself let alone with my wife who i'd know would be extremely upset and disturbed to see that scene.
  A Clockwork Orange is another movie most women will not tolerate, especially because the "hero" is totally unrepentant. Don't bother telling them that Anthony Burgess wrote the book after his wife was raped and beaten by American GIs during WWII, and that it was his form of seeking revenge.

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« #8 : May 18, 2007, 03:07:32 AM »

Before she met me Mrs Banjo went with a female friend to the theatre to see Clockwork Orange and walked out within 10 minutes because of the extreme content.

I thinks its a great film and i even tried (with no avail) to get Mrs Banjo to watch Mark Kermode's documentary from about 5 years back which demonstrates just how misunderstood Clockwork Orange really is.So anyway i only get the chance to see this and UOATIA when she's outta the way.

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« #9 : May 18, 2007, 04:53:50 AM »

Most women I've met seem to know about Clockwork, even tho they haven't seen it. Maybe it's something they learn about when they're young. "Betsey, brush your teeth and get ready for bed, and don't let me catch you watching A Clockwork Orange!!!"

mal247
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« #10 : May 18, 2007, 06:06:47 AM »

You're perfectly right, Juan Miranda.

Mr Bailey's wife died giving birth to their son, David.

There is however a hint on how long Mr Bailey and Deborah have been living together. When Carol and Noodles are discussing the photograph at the Bailey Foundation, Carol reveals that it was taken at the Foundation's opening night 15 years ago.  It's Patron Saint 15 years ago was "some actress" (Deborah) and when Noodles asks "Do you know her?" Carol says no.  When Deborah is being coy about her relationship with Mr Bailey, Noodles says she has been living with him all these years. 

He then asks "are you afraid I will turn into a pillar of salt?", which I don't understand other than it may be a reference back to the conversation they had when they were young when Deborah mentioned "his legs are like pillars of marble".

The rape scenes seem to bother some people greatly but Carol didn't seem to mind and Deborah made the first move by kissing Noodles - alright he misinterpreted this and spending all that money on an exclusive restaurant wrongly thought he had a right to a reward but Deborah would have probably forgiven him if he had shown some remorse.

I would much prefer it if none of the film is a dream. Hence the alternate ending. Prior to 1933 the film is beautifully constructed with no meaningful flaws but the unreal illogical things after 1933 and the way the film starts and ends probably leads me to think that Sergio had the dream idea running through his mind whilst he was making it. He was very astute with the film's ambiguity - if everything was clear we would not be discussing it 23 years after it was made.

mal247
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« #11 : May 18, 2007, 10:36:58 AM »

Or perhaps there's another explanantion.

There is a scenario which may resolve some of the anomalies and may not be as unfeasible as it first sounds.

Prohibition has ended and Max realises that he needs to start a new venture.  He has a lot of enemies and realises that he needs to start this venture a long distance away from New York under a new identity.  If he could somehow fake his own death this could perhaps stop his enemies from pursuing him further.

Noodles is however not the person he was, he has ties with Eve, is a heavy opium user and in any event Noodles has never been as devious as Max.  Max devises a scheme but cannot rely upon Noodles carrying it out without a hitch and he decides to go it alone.  He stops Noodles from going on the gang's last job and had thought that the other members of the gang would have simply been arrested by the police for relatively minor offences but things went wrong. The part of the scheme involving the fake of his death however went according to plan.

Max then grabbed the money from the suitcase,  headed West and changed his name to Bailey.  In Hollywood he met up with Deborah.  Max is very astute in business matters and he and Deborah together make a large amount of money - so much money that he doesn't need to pursue his idea of robbing The Federal Reserve Bank.   They have a love child and call him David of course.

They start the Bailey Foundation and eventually move back to New York where Max accepts the position of Secretary.  To cover his past he makes up the story of marrying a rich woman who died giving birth to David.  He has some plastic surgery done including dental work in an effort to change his appearance but tries to keep pictures etc out of the media and uses his staff and Deborah as much as possible.  However some government officials become suspicious and start an investigation into his past.

Max realises that this investigation will uncover the truth and that, rather than being embarrassed, the government will employ agents to kill him.  Some weeks previously he had learnt that the cemetery where the gang members were buried was going to be used for other purposes and he had arranged for the remains of the gangsters to be transferred to a magnificent tomb nearby and to give the credit to his childhood friend Noodles.  He feels guilty that he took Noodles share of the money, took his girl (Deborah) and left Noodles to needlessly grieve for many years for betraying him.  He would prefer to be killed by Noodles and thinks that with all that he had done to Noodles, Noodles would agree.  He employs agents to find Noodles and uses the closure of the cemetery as a lure to entice Noodles to return to New York.  The rest you know.

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« #12 : May 18, 2007, 12:35:18 PM »


He then asks "are you afraid I will turn into a pillar of salt?", which I don't understand other than it may be a reference back to the conversation they had when they were young when Deborah mentioned "his legs are like pillars of marble".

The allusion is to Lot's wife, of course, a story every Jewish person knows. I think the idea being expressed is something along the lines of "looking back only brings grief."



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« #13 : May 18, 2007, 12:43:10 PM »


Deborah tells Noodles that Max/Secretary Baily had married a wealthy woman and had a son. She died at his birth. This never named wealthy woman is David's mother, not Deborah.

At the start of the film Mo tells Noodles he hasn't seen his sister "for years". We never know how long Deborah's relationship with Max has been going on when Noodles catches up with her.


Right.  But don't blame people for not getting that the first couple viewings.  Some people pay special attention to other things and simply miss those details.




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« #14 : May 19, 2007, 12:01:39 PM »

I would agree that overall Leone’s films would have more appeal to men.  I think OUATIA would be a mixed bag for women.  I think the rape scenes are very difficult.  Particularly the prolonged rape of Deborah.  I think that Leone gets criticized the wrong way on that one. I think his point of view was that it was a horrible event.  Maybe he miscalculated by making it go on so long.  It's an important turning point in the story for Noodles so maybe that was another reason why he chose to depict it that way.  Despite the rapes, the scene in the opium den with the gangster playing with his pistol on the woman, I think that OUATIA has three women that have admirable qualities....along with their flaws like every other character.  Deborah, Carol and Eve are depicted as strong women.  Particularly for the 1920-30's.   I think the romance and life long love between Noodles and Deborah would have appeal to women, but the rape casts a shadow over that.  Maybe Leone had considered this but he would of been more concerned with how the rape affects Noodles and drives the story.
Carol doesn't seem to recognise Deborah in the photograph at the Bailey Institute unless she is faking it and doesn't want to spoil the surprise for Noodles and the viewer.
I have no problem with this.  Carol reappears in the brothel the very same night Noodles and Deborah have their romantic dinner by the sea.  Deborah leaves the next day for Hollywood.  Carol would of never met Deborah given Deborah hadn’t returned to the city after she left.  Which is very likely.  All Deborah wanted was to get out.
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Seems ludicrous that Moe's sister has been living with the man for many years, has had a child the spitting image of Max and still Moe doesn't know who he is.  
As pointed out, David is not Deborah’s child.  My interpretation lies with the script.  I believe Deborah about the other woman dying in childbirth, and that she never married anyone.  I also accept that Moe doesn’t know much about Deborah.  When they were children, Deborah always separated herself from Moe and the family business.  She wanted out.  Despite being her brother, Moe represents everything she wanted to get away from.....their background and immigrant roots.  Moe is kind of like Noodles.  He also remains unchanged since the key from the clock was taken.  He’s still trying to make a go of it in the family business.  If Deborah blew through New York, or wrote, it wouldn’t surprise me if she held back on details of her life.   In a way it doesn’t surprise me that Moe didn’t make a greater effort to get to know about her.  He’s too absorbed in keeping up what had been.  They were never portrayed as being very close, but at odds with their desires and priorities.
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Noodles has never been as devious as Max.  Max devises a scheme but cannot rely upon Noodles carrying it out without a hitch and he decides to go it alone.
I think you definitely have something there when you say Max is devious and scheming.  If you have a copy of OUATIA and you’re going to view it again,  I suggest watching certain chapters over first. I found it helpful when I was reassessing Max and his motivations in the story. For me, watching some of those segments separately, then returning to the film in its entirety, it helped me come to my conclusions on some of the plot concerns you’re considering.  I would look at the following chapters:
                           
The scene in Jimmy O’Donnell’s hospital room when the gang is visiting him before his surgery.  Watch for the discussion about possible future business ventures where Max could make money without Noodles or Deborah.  The reactions and conflict between Noodles and Max.  

The scene on Miami Beach which follows the above.  Noodles advises Max of the repeal of Prohibition.  The idea of the Federal Reserve heist is suddenly introduced for first time.  Notice how it comes soon after the scene in hospital.

The end of Prohibition party in the speakeasy.  It will have the scene with Noodles and Eve which will add insight on his decision of what he feels he needs to do and his willingness to share in the consequences.  Definitely check out the toast scene with Max, Cockeye and Patsy.  Watch Woods closely in that scene.  I think it will help bring understanding about Max’s expectations in the final liquor run that results in tragedy.

The party scene flows into the scene in which Noodles withdraws to the office or study and makes the big  ring-a- ding-ding to the police.  After the call is made, the scene with Max follows.

I would also look for the scenes in which Carol speaks to Noodles in the car in front of the Federal Reserve Bank, and when both characters speak to each other in the retirement home.  

I’ll throw in the last scene between Noodles and Max in the mansion.  Listen to how
Max speaks to Noodles after all those years.  What seems most important to him?
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Some weeks previously he had learnt that the cemetery where the gang members were buried was going to be used for other purposes and he had arranged for the remains of the gangsters to be transferred to a magnificent tomb nearby and to give the credit to his childhood friend Noodles.  He feels guilty that he took Noodles share of the money, took his girl (Deborah) and left Noodles to needlessly grieve for many years for betraying him    
Why does Max build the mausoleum for the gang? Would he have anything to gain from this?  You’re right about guilt being important to the story.  If guilt is significant in the story....how does it drive the story? Whose guilt?
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He was very astute with the film's ambiguity - if everything was clear we would not be discussing it 23 years after it was made.
I very much agree with you on this point.  I think this is one of the strengths of the film. Although it's a strength, it also seems to confound many as well.   I think Leone very meticulously constructed the film given the transitions in time, and also the open ended nature of the film.  It was a very personal film for him.  To construct the film so that it can be interpreted differently by the viewer makes it a very personal and emotional journey for the viewer.  You’re absolutely right, the result is a memorable cinematic experience.


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