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Mar 13 11 11:14 PM

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Even though the film is on DVD and Blu Ray at its longest theatrical length of 229 minutes, it was originally intended to be even longer, with Leone planning to release the film in two parts in Europe. When the horse-trading between the various distributors was done, that plan was abandoned and he cut around 40 minutes from the film - including all of Louise Fletcher's part - for the version that was released in Europe only to see that heavily cut. Although there had been attempts at a full restoration before (Leone reportedly cut a deal for the longer version with German and Italian television but died before he could deliver it), Leone's children will be doing it themselves from his original cutting log. Morricone has already agreed in principle to score the new scenes and Fausto Ancillai, the sound editor of the original theatrical cut, will be supervising the restoration.

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Sergio Leone's New York gangster epic "Once Upon a Time in America" is getting the redux treatment. The 1984 classic starring Robert De Niro and James Woods will be fully restored into a longer director's cut by Italy's revered Bologna Cinemetheque L'Immagine Ritrovata lab, using digital techniques and adding 40 minutes of original footage.

Leone's children, Andrea and Raffaella Leone, have acquired Italian rights to "Once Upon a Time in America," from Arnon Milchan's New Regency, and now aim to bow their redux version, which is being supervised by the pic's original sound editor, Fausto Ancillai, at either the Cannes or Venice fests in 2012.

The Bologna Cinematheque is a world leader in film preservation which, besides restoring the Spaghetti Western maestro's previous works, is also in charge of the Charlie Chaplin archives.

The current cut of Leone's Jewish New York gangsters epic -- which Warner Bros. in January re-released remastered on Blu-ray -- stands at an already lengthy 229 minutes.

That cut is how "Once Upon a Time in America" world premiered in Cannes in 1984. The pic was subsequently chopped down to 139 minutes, excluding several flash-back sequences, for its U.S. release, which caused many critics at the time to cry out that it had been murdered.

A rep for Rome-based Leone Films said they are in advanced talks with News Corp.'s Sky Italia for their redux version to air on the Italo paybox and are also eying its possible theatrical release in Italy. [/i]


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A translation of an Italian article by Fabio Santini indicating some of the restored footage:

http://forum.blu-ray.com/italy/167439-cera-una-volta-america-once-upon-time-america-new-restored-version.html

“What a thrill, like a son who returns home after many years ...”

Andrea, son of the unforgettable film director Sergio Leone, along with his sister Raffaella at the head of Leone Productions, has succeeded in a task very dear to his heart. He has purchased from the producer Arnon Milchan the Italian rights to Once Upon a Time in America, his father’s last film dated 1984.

“It was a long negotiation, difficult, but eventually we made it.” told a liberated Andrea “Now the film will go to the restored images lab of the Cineteca Bologna, directed by Gianluca Farinelli.” They are dedicated to the painstaking restoration of images frame by frame, dubbing the original, soundtrack, effects. “Especially” Andrea Leone continues, “to reassemble the pieces of film, which my father had to cut due to time restraints.”

Among these is the encounter at the Riverdale Cemetery between Noodles - De Niro - and Louise Fletcher (the unforgettable nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Louise Fletcher plays the director of the cemetery, an austere and ambiguous character, giving an atmosphere of great pathos to Noodles’ first research into his past.

And also, the encounter of old Noodles with Elizabeth McGovern on stage in a theater as she recites the part of Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. “The dubbing remains the original.” Andrea continues “So we will not dub the new components whose on-screen dialogue will be subtitled in Italian. There will be new and complex editing. To supervise the task we will use some-one exceptional. Like a Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese, who understand the film culture of my father, and are expert in the restoration of old films. We wanted to show the new edition of the film at Cannes this year, but there is not sufficient time. Too bad because the president of the Jury will be De Niro. With Sky, we are studying plans for its launch. I do not exclude that the film will return to theaters in 2012."

But the surprises do not end there. “Rummaging in the drawers of my father’s study” Andrea Leone continues, “we found a screenplay that he wrote between 1960 and 1965. It is the story of a handful of fighters engaged in a battle of Ancient Rome. The film is inspired by ‘The Magnificent 7’. We contacted David Franzoni, screenwriter of 'Amistad' and 'The Gladiator "and we're making a movie to be produced by studios or independents linked with Milchan. Franzoni is pumped by the idea of putting together a film based on an original script by Leone. He is an avid fan. In his study he has a giant poster of The Good the Bad and the Ugly.”

Yes, I do know the way to Funkytown.

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etucker

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Mar 14 11 7:34 PM

In view of all that it's probably time that I gave the movie another chance. I need to get back to my initial response to Leone's work as great trash and cease being annoyed by all the adulation of its artistic merits and cultural significance. Maybe the idea that they're calling in Tarantino is a good sign, though I have some doubts about Marty..

I had no idea that Fletcher was once in it - I'd like to see that missing footage. I suppose it will be a while, and assuming that since they only have the Italian rights, that this is never going to show up in the US on dvd. But I really have no idea how these things work.

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Ironic

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Mar 15 11 8:39 AM

So this is the full original intended version of the film, and not a really long rough cut?

4 hours 40 minutes... it cant all be strictly necessary to the plot can it?

I heard it through the grapevine

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GordyL

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Mar 15 11 11:14 AM

TrevorAclea wrote:
No, the rough cut was around six hours....

Good lord!

----Gordy----
"It's against my religion to give out personal advice, but you should either sober up or get real drunk."

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Ironic

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Mar 16 11 8:30 AM

GordyL wrote:
TrevorAclea wrote:
No, the rough cut was around six hours....

Good lord!


that's brief compared to some films

I think 4hr 40 is pushing the upper limit of my attention span though - at that length it's approaching mini-series and you start to forget what happened at the beginning. Fanny and Alexander, for instance, wouldn't work - for me at least - as a 3 hundred+ minute epic film but's perfect split into its 4 episodes, much more easily digestible IMNSHO.

Although obviously F&A was intended first as a tv series, and then cut into a theatrical version, so the comparison isn't really fair on Leone.

I heard it through the grapevine

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GordyL

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Mar 16 11 9:12 AM

Ironic wrote:
GordyL wrote:
TrevorAclea wrote:
No, the rough cut was around six hours....

Good lord!


that's brief compared to some films

I think 4hr 40 is pushing the upper limit of my attention span though - at that length it's approaching mini-series and you start to forget what happened at the beginning. Fanny and Alexander, for instance, wouldn't work - for me at least - as a 3 hundred+ minute epic film but's perfect split into its 4 episodes, much more easily digestible IMNSHO.

Although obviously F&A was intended first as a tv series, and then cut into a theatrical version, so the comparison isn't really fair on Leone.

I can see your point if you look at it as if it were a mini-series. Not sure how you would break it up into 6 or 7 episodes and make it still have the same impact tho...

----Gordy----
"It's against my religion to give out personal advice, but you should either sober up or get real drunk."

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fed

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Mar 18 11 12:57 PM

Don't think I've ever seen an uncut version of a film that was better than the cut version. They usually cut it for good reason. If the film develops a cult following - put it back in for those who are curious, fine, but I still wouldn't expect it to be a better film.

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etucker

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Mar 18 11 3:26 PM

f***ed wrote:
Don't think I've ever seen an uncut version of a film that was better than the cut version. They usually cut it for good reason. If the film develops a cult following - put it back in for those who are curious, fine, but I still wouldn't expect it to be a better film.


In this case the reasons made no sense. The American release of the movie was right butchered. By reducing it from 229 to 139 minutes they completely destroyed the complex structure of flashbacks that form the backbone of the movie, and the result was an almost nonsensical linear timeline very far removed from Leone's original intent.

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fed

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Mar 18 11 4:49 PM

etucker wrote:
By reducing it from 229 to 139 minutes they completely destroyed the complex structure of flashbacks.


Maybe they felt that a 229 minute complex structure of flashbacks was more punishment than entertainment...

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#10 [url]

Mar 18 11 8:00 PM

Cut to a publisher's office, circa 1913:

"Marcel, baby, 400 pages just turning over once in his bed? And what's with the flashbacks? Won't they just confuse the reader? And how many pages? Bubala, readers want to be entertained, not punished. And what's with the title, A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu - isn't that like telling the readers it's a waste of time? Tell you what, we'll take the first few hundred pages, give it a snappy title - how does Swann in Love grab ya? - and maybe when you're dead we can publish an author's edition. If it takes off... Only prisoners will have the time to read it, but maybe it'll squeeze a few more bucks out of it when the sales have flatlined. Work for you?"

Yes, I do know the way to Funkytown.

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fed

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Mar 19 11 2:13 AM

TrevorAclea wrote:
Cut to a publisher's office, circa 1913:

"Marcel, baby, 400 pages just turning over once in his bed? And what's with the flashbacks? Won't they just confuse the reader? And how many pages? Bubala, readers want to be entertained, not punished. And what's with the title, A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu - isn't that like telling the readers it's a waste of time? Tell you what, we'll take the first few hundred pages, give it a snappy title - how does Swann in Love grab ya? - and maybe when you're dead we can publish an author's edition. If it takes off... Only prisoners will have the time to read it, but maybe it'll squeeze a few more bucks out of it when the sales have flatlined. Work for you?"


Droll, but you can take your time to read Proust when I think Once Upon a Time in America is supposed to be finished in one brain-contorting, arse-numbing sitting in the cinema. Some of the greatest films are some of the longest, but still, part of the art of making a film must be in keeping things to a reasonable length. Probably a humane decision to cut it for general theatrical release, and Leone ought to have known it would happen.

Now we can watch things at leisure - length itself is less of a problem than directorial over-indulgence, and I still suspect I'm going to be watching the full version spotting all the weak, draggy, over-inflated, repetitive, unnecessary bits that were better off being cut.

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#12 [url]

Jul 19 11 4:55 AM

I too would be interested to know that. I havent gotten round to purchasing the BD yet but was going to get it over the coming weeks. I might hold off now but this is one movie i dont mind double dipping on and one i would quite happily sit through another 40mins....
thanks for adding a great interesting post.....

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