My Gut Instinct Says GO
This past weekend, I cleared time to just sit back, put my feet up and watch a movie. Even though it was one I’ve seen about ten times already, I found out that there’s a director’s cut version. It is longer than the American version, but the late Sergio Leone, director and creator of the film, loved this one way more.
Sergio Leone is the best film director ever, in my opinion. In 1966, when he was my age (37), he directed the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, considered by many to be the best western ever made.
Like many other meticulous directors, Leone had to make the film exactly as he wanted it. Similar to visionary Steve Jobs, who didn’t think about the cost of the products he’d formulate and left the implementation of it to people like Tim Cook (without whom Apple’s products would probably be 50% more expensive), Leone was also more of an artist than a businessman.
His passion was the creation of an epic movie, which would touch the hearts of viewers worldwide and leave a mark.
I also remember reading how industrialist powerhouses like Henry Ford (at one time the richest man ever) and Howard Hughes (who commercialized passenger airplanes), another American to become the richest of his time, were less concerned with initial costs for their projects than about what the value of the end-product willl be.
Quality and results drove them, reasoning that the end product would be so beneficial that the capital investments would be returned and then some.
Reading up on the matter, many believe that Leone’s inner struggle to release the version of the movie he wanted, plus the effort it took to perfect it were so intense that he died from a heart attack a couple of years after the film’s release.
He literally put his heart and soul into making Once Upon a Time in America and the distributors of the film in the states butchered his work, unfortunately. Leone actually had about eight hours of footage when it was all said and done, and he edited it to a four-and-a-half-hour final version.
After filming this one, his last movie and the first one he’d directed in thirteen years, the distributors thought that even the shortened version (the one I watched), which is three hours and fifty minutes of pure joy, was too lengthy.
Without his consent or knowledge, they halved it, releasing a 140-minute movie and it failed miserably.
In Europe, at the same time, cinema goers got to lick their fingers watching Leone’s version, a masterpiece, and to this day, a top-ranked motion picture. It remains one of De Niro’s best roles and certainly James Woods’ most seminal acting job.
Why does anyone doubt the abilities of a proven and successful director, who has shown that the audience loves his style?
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The lessons in this case are clear as day:
- Leone’s death: If, as is rumored, the dismal failure and financial woes that this film brought Leone, exacerbated his heart issues and resulted in a heart attack, it’s a big shame. Leone was 60 at the time of his death and could have pleasured us with at least two more unforgettable flicks.
There’s a price for putting your whole being into your vision, without allowing new winds of opportunity into your life and without accounting for the issues that arise, when working with less devoted individuals. I’m sure that after this film, Leone was still constantly approached by others with amazing scripts to consider and plan his cinematic comeback, but he was fixated on the past.
Most big undertakings don’t go smoothly in business and investing; it’s essential to be able to walk away and start fresh tomorrow.
- Disrespecting Professionalism: If you watch Once Upon a Time in America, the three-hour-and-forty-nine-minute version, you’ll see that every second counts.
It’s perfect just the way it is and the movie is an epic tale of friendship, love, rise to greatness and loyalty. In the cinema, same as in the markets, there are professionals who are world-class at what they do and should never be disrespected.
Lastly, we heard about the FDA’s approval, news that sparked a massive market rally and a gold spike; as we look at the way this impacts equities and commodities, the lesson is that just like in the movies, surprising turns can come at any point!
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