Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: Ken45 on September 29, 2021, 05:03:21 PM

Title: The role of women and sex in OUATIA
Post by: Ken45 on September 29, 2021, 05:03:21 PM
I have issue with the role of women in this film:

Deborah - Virgin beauty - initially seen surrounded in white (flour).  Only to be worshiped from afar.

Peggy - low class whore - being dirty amongst the clean laundry

Peggy's mother - let's Peggy be a whore for money - and shows her naked body to Patsy in the bath

Eve - High class whore - who takes Noodles money - but wants a relationship with him.  She wants to be the "Deborah" in Noodles life.

 Carol - Pretty whorish - likes sex against her will.

There are no other female leads

Sex is sometihing that Noodles uses to hurt women - he quickly gives it to Peggy to lose his virginity.  He rapes Carol, who likes it.  He can't get it up for Eve - who wants to love him tenderly.  He rapes Deborah and she's destroyed, and leaves forever.

I don't understand what SL was trying to say with women and sex in this film

Anyone have an explanation?
Title: Re: The role of women and sex in OUATIA
Post by: noodles_leone on September 30, 2021, 02:03:33 AM
A few notes:
- Sergio Leone was far from a feminist. He was an old school italian.
- His films are very masculine, they're about men and they're for men. So women and fair representation of women in them are going to be sidetracked.
- Would you say the representation of jewish people in that movie is fair? I mean, all the jews we see in it are gangsters who manipulate, torture and kill people for money and power. The main characters in all Leone movies are scoundrels. They do bad things like killing people and raping women. The way they treat women isn't good, and yet they manage to do much worst stuff throughout the movie.
Title: Re: The role of women and sex in OUATIA
Post by: Ken45 on September 30, 2021, 11:43:11 AM
I want to give SL the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the women in OUATIA, and not consider them one dimensional.  I could be wrong - but I was hoping someone had some put.

It's funny you mention the Jewish topic.  I've always taken the primary characters' Jewish heritage to be part of the original book, and just part of the story.  Which is all true.  Then, there's the question of the Chauffeur.  The Chauffeur that drives Noodles and Deborah on their date, and then turns a blind eye during the rape of Deborah is odd.  I always thought that the Chauffeur was just Noodles' regular driver, and was used to seeing him do violent things to women in the back seat.  But in the "Director's Cut" - there's a scene added that has Noodles talking to the Chauffer - before Noodles' date with Deborah.  Where the Driver and Noodles discuss the NAZI violence in Germany.   The Chauffeur tells Noodles that the Jews have enough problems without them becoming hoodlums.  This took a lot of guts to say to Noodles.

After the rape, when he drops off Noodles, the Chauffeur rejects Noodles tip.  I think there's more going on with the women in the film and the Jewish heritage of the hoods.  Not sure about that.

I've always wondered about the timing of OUATIA and the power-take over of the Nazi's.  The Chauffer' discussion with Noodles is the only mention of the Nazi's.

Title: Re: The role of women and sex in OUATIA
Post by: T.H. on September 30, 2021, 02:04:17 PM
These hoods aren't emotionally mature/available enough to see the complexities in women, or anyone else. We see Deborah through Noodles' eyes literally and figuratively, she represents the life he can't have due to the rotten person he is. There's nothing wrong with a film being told from the point of view of men, and any movie about men is now going to be hamfisted garbage due to every movie needing a strong female character. While most movies would benefit from a strong female character or three, inserting an Annie Oakley or Calamity Jane into a GBU or a Wild Bunch would ruin some of the greatest movies ever made.
Title: Re: The role of women and sex in OUATIA
Post by: groggysghost on October 01, 2021, 09:34:35 AM
Leone had precisely one (1) decent female character in his oeuvre, eg. Jill. This isn't a fatal flaw - he made films in masculine genres where women aren't strictly necessary. But I wouldn't devote a lot of time to dissecting the complexity of how he portrays women who exist mostly for the delectation of the men in the story.