Q: Did "Once Upon a Time in America" win any Oscars? It's considered one of the great gangster films, isn't it?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Whether 1984's "Once Upon a Time in America" was great depends on which cut you're talking about, but it's widely accepted that the version Oscars judges saw was terrible, and they didn't even give it a nomination.

The story goes that director Sergio Leone ("A Fistful of Dollars," 1964), already a legend by that point thanks to his "spaghetti western" films with Clint Eastwood, originally wanted to cut it into three two-hour films, but the studio said no. So he turned in a single, four-and-a-half-hour movie -- and the studio said no again.

He finally shortened it to three hours and 49 minutes, but the studio still wasn't happy, so they recut it to two hours and 20 minutes without Leone's input. That's the version that was released in theaters, and it was a flop.

Leone was nonetheless nominated for a Golden Globe for directing but lost to "Amadeus" (1984) director Milos Forman (that's as close to real hardware as the film came).

However, Leone's final version (the one just shy of four hours) was eventually released as well, and the critics who saw both realized the studio was at fault for the theatrical release. Leone's sterling reputation wasn't too tarnished by the debacle.

The film is now, indeed, regarded as a gangster-movie classic. In fact, it's become so beloved that yet another edit was released in 2014, including 22 more minutes of added footage.


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