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Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America' Gets the Blu-Ray Treatment

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by Jacob Combs
June 10, 2014 1:57 PM
2 Comments
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Once Upon a Time in America

For its 30th anniversary, "Once Upon a Time in America," legendary director Sergio Leone's final film, is being released on Blu-Ray this September.  If you're a fan of the gangster epic, your first question might be--which version?

The film has had a bit of a tortured history in the U.S.  After a Cannes premiere in 1984, Leone's more than four-hour cut came to the states in a drastically edited 134-minute version that told the story in chronological order--of which Leone did not approve.  In the 1990s, a three-hour version could be found on TV and a 229-minute edit made the rounds on home video.  Then, in 2012, a restored cut played at Cannes but was held from wider distribution to allow for more restoration work.

Now, finally, "Once Upon a Time in America" is available with its full director's cut--in fact, the Blu-Ray edition includes 22-minutes of extra footage, bringing the film to a total time of 251 minutes.  The restoration was overseen by Fausto Ancillai, the film's original sound editor.

Leone's film follow Robert De Niro as David "Nodles" Aaronson, a Jewish New York gangster, from his 1920s childhood on the Lower East Side through his violent days in the 1930s to his return to New York in 1968 after a self-imposed exile.

The collector's edition--due out September 30--will also include a 32-page book, complete with contemporary photographs, chronicling the making of the film, and a letter from Martin Scorsese, as well as commentary from film historian Richard Schickel.

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More: Robert De Niro, Classics, Blu-ray

2 Comments

  • Eric Barroso | June 12, 2014 8:46 PMReply

    This unfortunately isn't the "full directors cut", it's still missing 18 minutes. Leone's Original cut was 269 minutes long.

  • Joseph Angier | June 10, 2014 6:02 PMReply

    I'm looking forward to this, as soon as I can carve out the time. In the interests of movie trivia: Just a few months after the release of the 134 minute version, the 1984 New York Film Festival showed the 229-minute cut (which I seem to recall had its own short theatrical life). This non-chronological version was dubbed a "director's cut," so I guess this Blu-Ray is "even more of a director's cut."

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