Missing Scenes: Once Upon a Time in America

In response to my post below about the restoration of Once Upon a Time in America, I was asked if I knew anything specific about the missing 40 minutes. The answer is, yes. I have it on good authority that the additional material includes a whopper of a twist. It turns out that, like Max,  Cockeye and Patsy also faked their deaths, and went on to become President and Vice President, respectively. Plus, the great mystery behind Noodles’ smile is finally revealed. Here’s how these mind-blowing revelations appear in the film’s shooting script:

FAT MOE’S (1968) Interior. Night

On Fat Moe’s TV set, we see the chamber of the House of Representatives. People are lined up on both sides of the aisle waiting for the President to be announced.

In just a few moments President Cockeye will deliver his first State of the Union address. We don’t know if he will talk about the scandals currently rocking his Administration, one involving the Secretary of Commerce, Christopher Bailey, the other concerning persistent allegations that President Cockeye and Vice President Patsy frequent the high class brothel run by Madam Peggy. Both men deny any wrongdoing, but the questions remain. Why is the Cockeye Administration pushing so hard to legalize prostitution? And why did Vice President Patsy purchase a charlotte russe from Fat Moe’s deli and bring it to Madam Peggy at the brothel?

Noodles looks at Moe accusingly.

You knew about this? I thought you said you didn’t know nothin’ about nobody no more.

Moe (shrugging sheepishly)
I told you to take the money and run.

Even more alarming are the persistent rumors of the Administration’s alleged connection to organized crime. Some even claim that Cockeye and Patsy were bootleggers during Prohibition, and that the large scar on Vice President Patsy’s neck is the result of a gunshot wound sustained during a gangland shootout. The Vice President has consistently maintained that he cut himself shaving.

On the TV we see activity by the entrance to the chamber.

The President is about to be announced.

Floor Services Chief
Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!


President Cockeye enters the chamber to loud applause and cheering. He bucks protocol by playing the pan pipes rather than shaking hands and hugging people. The familiar sound of “Cockeye’s Theme” fills the chamber as he makes his way to the Speaker’s rostrum.  

After reaching the podium President Cockeye hands a copy of his address to Vice President Patsy and Speaker Dominic.

Speaker Dominic
Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States.

Moe, quick, hand me my pipe!

Noodles takes a monster hit of opium…


…and then looks back at the TV.


President Cockeye is ready to deliver his address.

President Cockeye
How are all a you’s, tonight? This is my first State of the Union address, and first off I just wanna say the union is good!

The crowd erupts in applause and cheering.

President Cockeye
Yeah, yeah, thanks. Next, I wanna assure all a’yous that we are gonna win the war in Vietnam! In fact, not only are we gonna win it, we’re gonna give it to those sneaky little gooks right up the ass! We’re gonna make them slanty-eyed bastards wish they’d never been born!

The crowd erupts again. This time President Cockeye joins in by playing his pan pipe.

President Cockeye
Before I outline my plan for victory in ‘Nam, allow me to put to rest these stupid ass accusations that I go around bangin’ whores. I don’t know where they get this shit. I tell ‘em it ain’t true, but they keep printin’ it anyway. Ya never know what the fuck these newspapermen want. They’re all a bunch of shtunks!

The crowd erupts.

President Cockeye (gesturing for the crowd to quiet down)
Yeah, yeah, thanks. But don’t make no mistake about it, my most urgent concern as President is to make damn sure that prostitution is legalized. With all this woman’s lib crap goin’ around these days, men just ain’t getting what they need. America is better than that, and it’s up to you’s broads out there to make things right again. Stop bustin’ our balls, will ya? Ask not what your man can do for you; ask what you can do for your man!

The crowd erupts again.

President Cockeye (now pounding the lectern)
Now, some people say I’m overly passionate about this issue. They say I need to settle down. Well, I have just one thing to say to these nudges – settle shmettle!

With that, the frenzied crowd, Democrats and Republicans alike, starts chanting “Cockeye, Cockeye…” as the President riffs on his pan pipe.

Ya know, Cockeye is makin’ a lot of sense. I think he’s going to be a great president.

Suddenly there’s commotion in the chamber. An enraged man with a gun rushes the Speaker’s rostrum.

Speaker Dominic
Bugsy’s coming! Run!

Shots ring out.

Cockeye and Patsy hide underneath the podium.

Speaker Dominic (falling to the ground)
I slipped

Senator Bugsy stands a few feet away from the podium, a smoking pistol in his hand.

Senator Bugsy
How you doing, boys? I hear you’s doing for yourselves now. I hear you’s doing real good.

President Cockeye stands up and whips his pan pipe at Bugsy, knocking the gun out of his hand.

Secretary Bailey, who has been in attendance the entire time, jumps into action, knocking Bugsy to the ground.

Secretary Bailey
Too bad I didn’t stay in the Bronx, eh Bugsy? Excuse the heel.

Secretary Bailey repeatedly kicks Bugsy in the face until it turns into a pulpy red mess.

Son of a bitch! How did that bastard Bugsy survive? I went to jail for nothin’! Pass the pipe!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed something truly extraordinary. No superlative can do justice to what the President and Secretary Bailey did here tonight. The scandals facing them suddenly seem petty and insignificant compared to their heroic deeds. I’m sure I speak for the entire nation when I say I’m proud to be an American today!

The White House (1968) Interior. Following Day

President Cockeye is at the podium holding a press conference. Several people are standing behind him: Secretary Bailey and Deborah, Vice President Patsy, and Speaker Dominic, who’s in a cast after slipping and breaking his leg.  

President Cockeye (addressing the press corps)
How you’s doin’? I have three things. First, for my gallantry in taking down that scumbag enemy of the United States, Bugsy, I bestow upon myself the Congressional Medal of Honor.  

President Cockeye puts the medal around himself. The press applauds. Cockeye motions to Secretary Bailey to join him. The Secretary takes a bow as the press starts cheering loudly. 

President Cockeye
Second, the pan pipes need to be taught in our schools. End of story. Not only do the pipes rock, they also come in handy in life or death situations, as we saw so clearly last night.  

Third, I’d like to introduce you’s to three new appointees to my Administration. First, please welcome Fat Moe, who will take over as the White House Executive Pastry Chef.


The press applauds as Moe walks in and takes his place next to Vice President Patsy, to whom Moe hands a charlotte russe.

President Cockeye
Next, please put your hands together for my new Cabinet member, Peggy, Secretary of Prostitution.


Peggy sashays in and takes her place behind President Cockeye.

President Cockeye
Like all Cabinet members, Peggy will serve at the pleasure of the President…

Vice President Patsy hands the charlotte russe to Peggy and, winking to the press corps, says:

…and the Vice President, too!

The press roars with approving laughter.

President Cockeye
Finally, please welcome my new Drug Czar, Mr. Noodles Aaronson, whose first assignment is to crack down on the illegal opium trade.

Noodles walks out and joins the rest of his old friends, who all warmly hug him. A press photographer, Eve, snaps a photo of them which captures the whole gang back together again.

The camera zooms in for a close-up of Noodles’ smiling face, and then we cut to:

Scene 165
Opium Den (1933) Interior. Night

Noodles is stretched out on his side on the opium bed. He drags deep and long on the long-stemmed pipe, holding the smoke in his lungs for several seconds before letting it out. An overhead shot shows Noodles turning on his back, his face now looking directly into the camera.

Standing above him is a young woman – twenty-six, beautiful, buxom and completely naked.

Do you remember me?

Who could forget them tsitskehs?

Do you know a man named Chris?

Chris? No.

He said you’d be here, and that I should pay you a visit. You once pumped a little life into me after my overdose, and I’m here to repay the favor.

With that, Noodles’ face bursts forth into an enormous, blissful smile.


The End

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