Once Upon A Time In America | 1983
Following on from Once Upon a Time In The West, the film traces the growth of the States from the Twenties to the Sixties, as the Western becomes the gangster flick. The setting of New York has obviously changed out of all recognition. Leone filmed not only in New York itself – where an entire city block was reconstructed – and New Jersey – which you might expect – to Florida, up to Montreal, Quebec, and more surprisingly in France and Italy.
The twenties ‘Lower East Side’ neighbourhood, where Noodles and Max first meet up, was indeed filmed on the streets below the towering Williamsburg Bridge – but not in Manhattan. The location is across the East River on 8th Avenue South at Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.
New York’s ‘Grand Central Station’, in the thirties flashbacks, is the Gare du Nord in Paris.
Perhaps the most unexpected location is the lavish ‘Long Island’ restaurant, to which Noodles (Robert De Niro) takes his dream date. You'll find this in Venice: it’s the Hotel Excelsior Venice, Lungomare Marconi 41 on the Lido. Built in the 1900s, the Excelsior was the world’s top resort hotel and is a favourite of the film festival crowd. It's on the Lido just along from the famous Grand Hotel des Bains, famous onscreen from Luchino Visconti's Death In Venice.
The bridge towering over the warehouses, an image so striking it was used for the poster art and DVD cover, is Manhattan Bridge, Water Street at Washington Street, once again, over in Brooklyn.