Film and action summary
Little Riding Hood David Noodle Aaronson and his lifelong accomplices, Max, Rooster and Patsy, along with their friends, grew up in New York’s tough Jewish neighborhood on the Lower East Side. A long period in America followed them from the 1920s to the final years of Prohibition in the early 1930s, and then in the late 1960s, when the Noodler elder returned to New York after years in hiding.
Once Upon a Time in AmericaFilm Summary
Below is an overview of the spoilers.
We open the film with three villains searching for a remarkable man at the Hauang Chinese Theater in New York’s Lower East Side Jewish neighborhood in 1932. Before they find him, the Chinese hosts alert a 30-year-old drug-addicted gangster named Noodle and help him escape, but not before his girlfriend is shot and his friend Fat Mo is brutally tortured for wanting to know where Noodle is. Noodle sneaks in and saves Fat Mo by killing one of the gangsters.
Soon after, he learns that three of his childhood friends, Patsy, Rooster and Charred Max, have been murdered in a botched bank robbery. He went to the local bus station before discovering that he had been cheated out of a million dollar suitcase kept in a secret safe at the station. Noodle buys a ticket to leave town somewhere and disappears into the night for the next 36 years….
In 1968, old Noodle, very suspicious, returned to New York and called his bar the same Fat Mo. They discuss what happened in 1932, and Noodle realizes that Mo didn’t take the money. Noodle goes into the pantry and looks through the peephole into the past….
In 1918, 12-year-old Deborah, Fat Moe’s sister-in-law who dreams of becoming a ballerina and actress, is spat on by teenagers. Noodle begins a search and finds his tyrant friends Patsy, Rooster and Dominic. They are petty thieves and after committing arson at a local shop, they try to rob a drunk, but get beaten up by an older teenage thief, Max. Noodle tries to get revenge on Max, but a crooked cop shows up and forces the two boys to take his side. The boys immediately become friends and begin committing petty theft for a local thug named Bugsy.
The boys blackmail the con man with a photo that allows them to commit more crimes that Bugsy doesn’t like. Bugsy finds out, and he and his gang attack Max and Noodle to kill them. Noodle goes to Deborah for help, but she ignores him, knowing he’s on the wrong track. Max, Noodle and the gang of miners decide to dismantle a local smuggling operation with a new invention invented by Noodle. In the process, he irritates Bugsy again, but he gets more money and more arrogance for the boys.
They decide to put all their cheated money in a suitcase at the bus stop, saving half the money and only being able to open it with all the members at once. As they leave the station, Bugsy passes them outside and shoots Dominique 8, who dies in his arms. Noodle stabbed Bugsy and a police officer before being subdued and sent to prison for 12 years.
In 1930 Noodle is released from prison and joins the gang, while Max, Rooster and Patsy become local smugglers and spearmasters where they take the crime out of Fat Mo’s sweet spear. The gang is recruited by a Detroit gangster to rob a diamond store, where Noodle rapes the cashier Carol, which is expressly forbidden by the Detroit gangster. During the diamond exchange, Max and the gang open fire and kill all the gangsters for Noodle’s plans. Still, Noodle leaves with a car at the end of the pier and makes the gang laugh.
In 1968, Noodle goes to the extravagant crypt built for the bodies of his gang and discovers that it was built under his name, which he did not do, and finds a second key to the bus locker. He goes to his locker and finds a million dollar case that says you have to pay in advance for your next order. Returning nervously to Moe’s, he blinked 1932….
Noodle and the gang have become powerful and evil. They save the life of a local union leader and make more enemies among other mafia groups and the police. The gang plays a nasty trick on the police chief to help the union, and pisses off a rival. They kill the muscles of their opponents and feel invincible. While they are partying at the local bathhouse, they find Carol working there and she ends up with Max. Noodle has a date with Deborah the day before he leaves for Hollywood to work as an actress. On the way home, Noodle rapes Deborah. The next morning she takes the train out of town, and when he shows up to apologize, she draws a line and ignores him.
Max decides they will work for a local team, but Noodle says he won’t. To make all his money at once, Max wants to go on a suicide mission and rob the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Noodle tells him he’s crazy. While Carol makes an offer for the bank, she asks Noodle to turn the gang in, so they serve a short sentence but escape themselves. That night at the party, Noodle calls the police to report them, but just after Max goes crazy again, he knocks Noodle out and tries to rob the bank without him… and the unfortunate job at the bank is what opens the movie.
In 1968, Noodle stalked Deborah, now known in New York as an actress. He asks her what she knows about a mysterious Home Secretary named Bailey. Noodle discovers that Deborah is Bailey’s lover and together they have a son named David, who looks a lot like young Max. Noodle goes to a big party at Bailey’s Mansion, where Noodle is invited to talk to the secretary, who turns out to be Max.
Max gets death threats from a gangster. So he decides to hunt down Noodle and have him kill Max so he can get it from a friend instead of an enemy. Noodle claims he doesn’t know who Bailey is and refuses to kill him. Noodles leaves, and as he goes through the gate, he encounters a garbage truck that threatens to start its engines as Max approaches Noodles. Max disappears as the truck continues on its snail wings, leaving us to wonder if Max was thrown into the snail, committed suicide, or jumped off the side of the truck and disappeared into the night.
Noodles continues and we are transported to an opium den in 1932 where we see a drug addicted Noodle looking at the camera and smiling as it gets dark.
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