A restored and
extended version of the movie premiered at Cannes on Friday 18 May 2012. The
screening was attended by many celebrities including Robert de Niro, James
Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Jennifer Connelly and Ennio Morricone. Although it
was advertised that the extended version included 26
minutes of previously unreleased footage, 21 minutes only of
additional scenes were included.
The additional scenes have been known about since the early 1990s and over the years several attempts have been made to purchase the rights and release them to the public.
In 2000, Film4 commissioned a documentary "Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone". The original version of the documentary included teasing images of 6 film reels labelled "Cemetery - Louise Fletcher", "McGovern - Shakespeare scene", "Eve out takes" and Arnon Milchan saying: "There's another half hour we're planning to put back and come with a full director's version. This time I know what to do."
translated quote from Raffaella Leone 6 September 2006:
"Yes, in collaboration with Sky we are to recover forty minutes of unedited scenes that we have found. For example, one featuring Louise Fletcher who won an Oscar for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. These disappeared in the final cut. Mind you, not replacing the film that my father made. We would however like to show them in a screening at a festival, these unedited scenes are very interesting. Maybe presented and illustrated by someone important like Quentin Tarantino."
Neither of the above events happened.
In 2011, Andrea Leone released a press statement that he had purchased the Italian rights from the producer Arnon Milchan. He said that it was a project very dear to his heart and one he has been trying to progress for many years.
confirmed that his father had made a version of 270 mins (4hrs 30), which was cut in
Europe to 220 mins (3hrs 40). The film will go to the restored images lab of the
Cineteca Bologna, directed by Gianluca Farinelli,who are dedicated to the
painstaking restoration of images frame by frame. Especially to reassemble the pieces of film, which
Andrea's father had to cut due to time constraints. Martin Scorcese and many
others have been very helpful in assisting this project.
Shortly after the movie premiered at Cannes in 1984 Sergio Leone did a lengthy interview with Cahiers Du Cinema magazine. He gave details of the 50 minutes of cuts he made to the movie and this included a scene of love with young Deborah. Some speculate that this scene is the one where Deborah and Noodles are in the back room of Gellys and she recites her Song of Songs. It's possible that at first Leone deleted this but re-inserted it when the movie was released in Europe increasing the running time to 229 minutes.
The running time of the new version is 251 minutes.
A scene by scene breakdown of the additional material is as follows:
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - SCENES RECOVERED FOR EXTENDED VERSION
Discussion between Noodles and Riverdale cemetery's director (Louise Fletcher). Appearance of an ominous black Cadillac (1968)
Extended scene where Noodles drives a car into the lake. The gang struggling in the water and a crane dredging soil and debris. Anxiety when Noodles does not resurface (1931).
Noodles walking outside Bailey's mansion and seeing a car explode (1968)
At a theater entrance, Noodles communicating with a chauffeur prior to the arrival of Deborah (1932)
Eve meeting with Noodles in speakeasy, then they embrace in hotel room. Bedroom scene Eve and Noodles (1932)
Noodles awakes sees Eve's thank you note signed Deborah (1932)
Deborah drinking coffee at restaurant next to Railway Station (1932)
Deborah plays Cleopatra in Shakespeare's theater. Noodles is present in the audience (1968).
While the guests arrive, Bailey has a discussion in his private study with Jimmy O'Donnell (1968).
The original dialog and shooting script for the 21 mins of additional scenes is at: addscenes2.pdf
Trovacinema has 2 videos showing some of the additional scenes. Both have English dialogue.
Full scene of Noodles and Louis Fletcher: http://trovacinema.repubblica.it/mul...liata/31846181
Extracts of some of the additional scenes: http://trovacinema.repubblica.it/mul...-film/31846224
Videos of the complete Cleopatra scene and the Bailey and Jimmy scene in full are at:
Picture quality is fairly poor and the new Italian release on DVD and Blu-ray suffers from compression artifacts and a yellowish tint.
Martin Scorcese has said that there is a further 20 minutes which he hopes can be restored and added to the movie. This would then make the running time of the movie nearer Leone's original 270 minute cut.
Hopefully all who are interested will be able to see the extended and restored version of the movie in some format in the not too distant future.