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Once Upon a Time in America

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Great Nudity!

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When renowned spaghetti westerner Sergio Leone set his sights on creating an epic tale chronicling the rise of organized crime in the United States, America’s top actors rushed to sign on for the project. Robert De Niro and James Woods both lent their considerable talents to the exhaustive dramatization of crime and consequence that is Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Aside from these compelling masculine presences, Italian director Leone also picked from the cream of comely Stateside actresses, including cherub-faced Elizabeth McGovern fresh off her Oscar nomination for Ragtime (1982); a youthful Jennifer Connelly in her first feature film, playing the younger verison of Elizabeth; and film legend Tuesday Weld. Along with Joe Pesci, Treat Williams, Danny Aiello, and William Forsythe, the epic four-hour film is the story of washed-up gangster Noodles (De Niro) trying to make sense of his former life and possibly find peace. His journey takes us through several naked moments, including one bare breast of actress Olga Karlatos, a bare butt double for Jennifer, a full-on naked Ann Neville, and flashes of a bare Elizabeth while a very mean Noodles does bad things to her character Deborah in the back of a car. Despite the stellar cast and crew, no Oscars were handed out to anyone (did Mr. Skin mention the four-hour running time?). The film, however, did get two Golden Globe nominations, one for Best Director and one for Best Original Score, and two wins at the BAFTA Awards for Best Score and Best Costume Design.