As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster
With this sentence, Henry Hill starts telling his story of rise and fall inside a mob family. It’s not fictional, Hill was a mobster for real, and passed away not too long ago. As fascinating it is, the responsible for delivering it to the mass on a silver plate was Martin Scorsese, who masterly directed one of his best films, and I dare to say, one of the best films in the history.
Believe me if I reckon I’ve watched it more than 20 times, and I still find it awesome. One of those films every time you watch them you discover some details which you didn’t earlier, from actors, to locations, or any tiny detail. I never get tired of Ray Liotta laughing at Joe Pesci at the Bamboo Lounge, and how he scares the shit out of him.
This week it’s been celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie. It’s nice to see the cast gathering for the celebration of a great project, and it’s sad at the same time because you can see time does not forget anyone.
Is Goodfellas the best Italian mob film? Probably not, if you start thinking of The Godfather or Once Upon a Time in America, but it’s definitely one of the best.
The dynamism of a story told in 146 minutes is brilliant, separating the most remarkable episodes in the life of Hill. How he started being the kid running errands and grabbing an umbrella to protect one of the big bosses, the time he’s a successful young guy “well positioned” and falls in love with Karen, the Lufthansa Heist planned with Jimmy Conway and Tommy De Vito, and the devastating consequences for most of the people involved, the jail time, the drugs…everything supported by amazing performances by Liotta, DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino, among many others, a terrific soundtrack, and many other features a good film analyst would be able to list.
I love the way Scorsese introduces the viewer to the family, as if making us one of them, going through all the Bamboo Lounge greeting everybody. The little man repeats this formula several times, one when Henry takes Karen to Copacabana, and instead of using the front door, they get into the restaurant by the kitchen access until a table is immediately set for them right at the moment they reach the lounge. Everything filmed with a steadicam, and the other at their wedding, when Karen tells about how overwhelmed she was with such a large family, so many people and so many envelopes.
Goodfellas was also the seed for David Chase at the time of creating The Sopranos. Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco were considered as candidates to play the roles of Tony and Carmela, but the idea eventually was turn down, although Bracco became Dr Melfi, Tony’s shrink, proving what an amazing actress she is. Also many actors were hired for the series, from Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti to Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo or Tony Sirico, the great Paulie Gualtieri.
I think there’s nothing else to say. If you don’t like Goodfellas you’re missing a hell of a great film.