Release Year: 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Martin Scorsese (screenplay), Nicholas Pileggi (screenplay and 1985 non-fction book Wiseguys)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow, Mike Starr, Frank Vincent, Chuck Low, Frank DiLeo, Gina Mastrogiacomo, Catherine Scorsese, Charles Scorsese, Suzanne Shepherd, Debi Mazar, Margo Winkler, Welker White, Elaine Kagan, Beau Starr
Rating: Won 1 Oscar: Best Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci). Nominated for 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Lorraine Bracco), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing. Nominated for 5 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Suppoting Actor (Joe Pesci), Best Supporting Actress (Lorraine Bracco).
The story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his career in the mob from childhood on, including the relationship with his wife Karen (Lorraine Bracco), with mob partners Jimmy Conway (Robert de Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
The gangster is a character that seems to have an unrelenting grip on the American imagination. Perhaps because this particular anti-hero is so very American, a criminal, sure, but also a self-made man and almost always rooted in the immigrant subcultures of the big citres, be it Sicilian or Irish. Among the many classics of the genre, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is often cited as one of the best and with good reason. Liotta (Heartbreakers, 2001) plays Hill, the film’s narrator, and gives us the story of his career in organized crime. He is great, but is outshined ever so slightly by a great De Niro (Mean Streets, 1973) and the outstanding Pesci (My Cousin Vinny, 1992) who keeps you on the edge of your seat in all his scenes with his character’s mad unpredictability. Scorsese (Taxi Driver, 1976) delivers one of his most entertaining films. Although narration is often a sign of lazy filmmaking, this is one of the occasion where it really works (another good example would be Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001). The film, like its subject matter, is sporadically very violent but there are also moments of humour – in short it has it all. Highly recommended.
The studio was very nervous about the film because of its violence and crude language. The film famously did extremely poor in the initial test screening, but it was eventualy released without alterations to critical acclaim.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.