Alrighty, time to lock down my writing schedule for the next few months. Yesterday, I delivered the series overview for that fantasy book adaptation. This week, I finish off the pitch for the out-there hero. I’m dedicating all of September to the pilot and overview for that far-future series that will combine my love of science fiction with my love of kpop. And then October will be dedicated to the pilot and overview for that near-future sci-fi mystery-thriller. I am always loathe to turn down work, but I’m not going to have a choice. The next 70+ days promise to be very busy.
The Crime Club convenes to discuss Once Upon a Time in America.
Sergio Leone’s epic crime drama is a masterpiece of the genre, a magnificent film about friendship, loyalty, and betrayal.
The most compelling part of the movie, for me, were the early years that spotlight the formation of the gang in the 30’s, their struggle for survival, and the bonds formed in the face of that adversity. The performances by the child actors were exceptional, with the possible single exception of the “Noodles, I slipped line” which was given so much import but, in my opinion, felt very similar in delivery to Ralphie from A Christmas Story’s dramatic reveal of “Soap poisoning!”.
The camaraderie at the heart of this movie is terrific; the supporting female characters less so. Deborah had flashes of promise only to end up little more than a double victim when all was said and done.
Overall, however, it’s a classic that holds up pretty well up – until the final twist that is not so much shocking as it is bewildering. I mean, if you’re going to fake your own death, why would you then pursue a career in the public eye? And how fortuitous that, in the intervening years, Noodles never caught a glimpse of Senator Bailey. Was he living in a cave for three decades?
The movie’s final moments are much discussed and the subject of varied theories. Was that Max we glimpsed stepping out of the gated entrance? Does he commit suicide off-screen? One of the things I haven’t seen discussed is the parallel between this final beat of the truck briefly obscuring Max/Bailey only to drive by and reveal him…no longer there (!), with Noodles’ first interaction with young Max, his plot to use the passing wagon to obscure his crime, only to have Max screw it up. Is this a call back to that moment? Is this Max effectively pulling off the same deception, demonstrating to Noodles that he is, and has always been, the superior hustler?
What do you think?
Tomorrow’s Crime Club selection is the South Korean thrilled Mother by the director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho.