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

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 10, 2014 at 1:57PM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Robert De Niro, Classics, Blu-ray


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.