ONCE UPON A TIME IN CANNES

Martin Scorsese 08/01/2012

When Sergio Leone made Once Upon a Time in America, it was an event. Here was the man who had invented the spaghetti Western, coming to New York to make a Jewish gangster epic. Everybody, including my friends Bob De Niro and Joe Pesci, was in it; everybody in New York was working on it. We all knew it would be unlike anything we’d ever seen.

The version released in the summer of 1984 pleased no one, Leone least of all. The much longer cut that came out later that year restored his extraordinary Proustian structure, but it was missing 40 minutes that Leone felt to be crucial to his grand, 20th-century canvas.

Recently, with the help of the Leone family, 25 minutes of material was found, including an extended excerpt from Antony and Cleopatra, featuring Elizabeth McGovern, and a long-rumored exchange between De Niro and Louise Fletcher. These scenes and others have now been re-inserted into the picture, and the restoration—a collaboration involving the Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata, and the Film Foundation, with funding from Gucci—is nearly complete.

A great film just became that much greater.

-- Martin Scorsese

Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe - James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Jennifer Connelly, and Robert De Niro, original cast members of Once upon a Time in America, photographed at the bar of the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d’Antibes, France.

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

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