Once Upon a Time in America (found 139-minute US theatrical cut of drama film; 1984)

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Once Upon A Time In America1.jpg

US theatrical poster.

Status: Found

Date found: 03 Sept 2020

Found by: Ray_ray1999

Once Upon a Time in America, released in US theatres on June 1st, 1984, was the final film to be directed by Sergio Leone. The finished film originally ran at 229 minutes and premiered as such at the Cannes Film Festival.

The first screening of the film in the United States went poorly. Over a hundred audience members reportedly left during the intermission and did not return.[1] In the wake of this incident, the Ladd Company, who were distributing the film in the United States, decided to drastically recut the movie to 139 minutes in length, rearranging its non-chronological narrative to take place in a more conventional chronological order.

The re-edited version, which was screened for the film's wide release in the United States, was met with scathing reviews and would be considered a box office bomb. Famed critics Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert, who had previously seen the unedited version of the film, reviewed the US cut of Once Upon a Time in America on their show, focusing their criticisms on the edits made to that version; Ebert declared:
"...As far as I'm concerned, this movie has been destroyed."[2]
Ebert also expressed hope that the longer version would be seen again one day.

Sergio Leone's preferred 229-minute version of the film ran in most countries internationally. It was the version released on home video worldwide, albeit edited slightly for scenes of rape and gruesome violence. The complete, uncut version, without any additional censorship, was finally released on DVD in 2003 and was the default version of the film on home video until a longer 251-minute cut was released in 2014.


In 1985 Warner Home Video released two versions of Once Upon a Time in America on VHS: a slightly censored edition of the 229-minute version, which was a two-tape release, and the U.S. cut, released on one tape. The latter edition was virtually unknown until recently and seems to have possibly only been made available as a rental at video stores rather than a wide release for purchase; as a result, it was speculated for a long time that the U.S. cut never got a home video release. The cut reputedly also aired infrequently on television up until the mid-2000s.

On September 3rd, 2020, Internet Archive user Ray_ray1999 uploaded a VHS rip of the U.S. cut. Due to possible tape deterioration, the volume decreases drastically towards the end of the film, becoming almost inaudible.

See Also

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