Monday, July 18, 2016

A Made Man

Goodfellas
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Released: September 21, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Dances with Wolves)
Best Director - Martin Scorsese (lost to Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves)
Best Supporting Actor - Joe Pesci (won)
Best Supporting Actress - Lorraine Bracco (lost to Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi (lost to Michael Blake for Dances with Wolves)
Best Film Editing (lost to Dances with Wolves)


I need to watch Dances with Wolves in the near future to see if I agree with the Academy's decision of awarding that Best Picture over Goodfellas. I call BS on Kevin Costner winning Best Director over Marty Scorsese, though, ESPECIALLY since at this point in time Scorsese had never won an Oscar for directing (and wouldn't win one until 2007 for The Departed....personally, I liked
Goodfellas better, though I will admit it's been awhile since I've seen The Departed). If you remember, back in 2010, I posted several videos about a poll asking which was the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history. Dances with Wolves winning over Goodfellas was on the list, but it was not the one that won the poll and not the one I thought should have win....oh, trust me, there's a much bigger upset! You'll just have to go back and watch to find out, but if you know me, then you already know my answer!

Goodfellas is based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi called "Wiseguy" (damn, I can never remember if book titles are suppose to be italicized, underlined, or in parentheses which is why I just do all three!) Since there was already a show on TV called Wiseguy, Scorsese (smartly) changed the name. I think Goodfellas is a better title anyway. Wiseguy sounds like a comedy. "Ehhhh, Wiseguy!" The book and movie are based on the true story of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), a man who got sucked into the mafia life at a very young age and would eventually turn on his mob family. The movie begins with him saying, in voiceover, "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." He tells the audience that as a young child and teen in the '50s, he was always awed by the power these Italian-American men in his Brooklyn community held. He was able to get part-time work from them by running errands for them and doing small jobs. This soon became a full-time job and he was part of their family.

His mentor is Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who Henry is in awe of the first time he meets him at a club because Jimmy is just tipping everyone one hundred dollars, like he has money to blow through like it's no big deal. He gives the doorman $100 just for opening the door and the bartender $100 for keeping the drinks coming. When he meets Henry he gives him a couple hundreds, just for the hell of it, really. Jimmy likes to sell things on the black market, such as cigarettes, booze, shrimp and lobster. He gives Henry two important pieces of advice: "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut." Henry will NOT abide by these rules later on in the movie!

He meets Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) a very volatile man which makes him extremely scary and dangerous. One of the most well-known scenes in the movie is when Tommy is telling a story to a group of guys including Henry and the punchline of the story is, "Yeah, I told this guy to go f*** his mother" and then he sees this guy again and he says, "Hey, I thought I told you to go f*** your mother!" All the guys are laughing hysterically, including Henry who says, "You're really funny." Tommy seems to take this more as an insult and asks him, "Funny how? Like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to f***ing amuse you? What do you mean funny?" The whole table is silent and Henry has to try to backtrack what he meant so he's not insulting Tommy anymore than he (apparently!) already is. He tells him he thought the way he told the story was funny and Tommy gets even more angry and says, "How the f*** am I funny?" Henry gets a little freaked out then calls him out and says, "Get the f*** out of here!" and Tommy laughs and says, "I almost had him!" So he was just playing with him the entire time. Although, as it turns out, when he gets angry, sometimes he's not always playing around. This proves to be true in another scene when the guys are playing poker and and a young guy named Spider (played by Michael Imperioli aka Christopher (Christofuh!) from The Sopranos) is serving them drinks. He misunderstood Tommy wanted a drink after delivering the beverages to the table and Tommy says to him, "Where's my f***ing drink?" Spider tries to explain to him he thought he said he didn't need a drink, but this only makes matters worse. Spider asks him if he wants a drink and Tommy says, "Yeah, I want a f***ing drink! Move it, you f***ing bastard!" He thinks it would be hilarious if he made Spider "dance" and takes out his pistol and shoots him in the foot. The other guys are like, "What's the matter with you, Tommy?" and Henry goes over to help Spider. Tommy says, "So what? He got shot in the foot! Big f***ing deal!" Henry and another guy go take him to get his foot taken care of and Tommy says, "Let him crawl there like he crawls to get the drinks!" He is laughing and smiling and obviously does not feel bad he just shot someone in the foot. (Well, he does do worse things than shoot people in the foot and he never feels bad about those either!) He tells Spider, "Don't make a big f***ing thing out of this, you little prick!" and "It was an accident!" At a following game, we see Spider has a cast on his foot. Tommy makes fun of him and Spider tells him, "Why don't you go f*** yourself, Tommy." Big mistake. BIG. MISTAKE! The other guys (except for Tommy who is just sitting there looking mighty pissed!) are laughing and Jimmy jokes that he has respect for Spider for standing up to Tommy. The second he tells Tommy, "You gonna let him get away with that?", I KNEW Spider was a dead man. Because Tommy takes out his gun and just brutally blows him away. All the guys are shocked and Jimmy says, "I was f***ing kidding with you and you f***ing shoot the guy?" And I'm thinking, Well, maybe you shouldn't have egged him on! We all knew this was going to happen!

I wrote in my Breakfast Club review that I grew up knowing Emilio Estevez best as the coach from The Mighty Ducks because that was the generation I grew up with. Well, it probably won't surprise you when I say that Joe Pesci will always be one half of the Wet Bandits from Home Alone to me. I was a kid when that movie came out (and you know I'm a big Home Alone fan!), so I will always associate him with that movie. It only came out two months after this one, but I was too young to see Goodfellas! I don't even think I was even aware of it until several years later. Haha, can you imagine if Tommy DeVito was the character in that movie? First of all, I don't think Kevin would survive! Or Marv after that scene with the crowbar and the tarantula! Second of all, those f-bombs would be dropping every which way!

I heard somewhere that 27 people who were in this movie, would later go on to appear in The Sopranos, which is pretty much the TV version of Goodfellas. I already mentioned Michael Imperioli, but probably the most well-known one would be Lorraine Bracco who plays Henry's wife, Karen Hill. They first meet on a double date they have with Tommy and a woman who is a friend of Karen's. While Tommy and his date are canoodling and having a great time, Henry and Karen aren't talking to each other and show no interest in each other. Another double date is set up, but this time Henry doesn't show up and Karen is pissed about that. We suddenly get voice over from her which was a little jarring at first because so far at this point, we've only heard voice overs from Henry. When she confronts Henry about standing her up, he is attracted to her fiery personality and they soon start dating.  There's a great scene where Henry takes her to the Copacabana nightclub and instead of going through the front doors and waiting in line, he takes her through the back and there's this great one-take scene of them walking through the back halls and the kitchen. Here's the scene:





Man, I tell you, that Marty Scorsese is a great movie director. That is a brilliant scene. This is why I enjoy this movie so much; a lot of the scenes just suck you in like this one. Although I will say I mostly associate that song with Adventure in Baby-Sitting! (I have seen that movie a lot more than this one! This is only the second time I've seen Goodfellas).

Needless to say, Karen is very seduced by Henry and becomes even more attractive to him when he beats up her neighbor with the handle of his gun when he tries to get too handsy with her. Henry hands Karen the bloodied gun and she says she knows this would have scared most woman, but it made her even more attracted to him. They eventually get married, but that won't stop Henry from having some fun with another woman on the side.

The movie begins with Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy driving at night when they hear a sound coming from the trunk. They stop the car and open the trunk to reveal to the audience a bloodied and beat up man who they thought was dead, but is still alive (but barely because he looks really bad). We see Tommy take out a huge knife and stab the poor guy several times and then the movie starts in chronological order. About an hour in the movie, we will find out about the man in the trunk. He is a mobster named Billy Batts and he did a very stupid thing by insulting Tommy. Do these people never learn. You don't f*** with Tommy DeVito! Not if you want to live! Billy is actually an old friend of Tommy who he hasn't seen in several years because they do hug and seem happy to see each other after all this time. But then Billy starts joking around with Tommy about his shoe shining days and this really ticks off Tommy. (Someone needs to go to anger management!) Billy tells him to calm down, that he's only kidding with him. Everything seems to be calm, but then Billy (who must be a really idiot), has to make another crack and this really sets Tommy off and he goes to attack Billy, but is stopped by Henry and Jimmy. Later, when Billy is alone, Jimmy distracts him so Tommy can sneak up on him and start beating the crap out of him with Jimmy's help. They put him in the trunk of the car and head to Tommy's mother's house because Tommy tells them there's a shovel at her house. Here's a fun fact: Tommy's mother is played by Scorsese's real-life mother, Catherine Scorsese (Another fun fact about this movie is that Samuel L. Jackson has a small role. He plays a man who helps the guys with a big heist, but then after he carelessly leaves a trail for police, he is whacked). He tells the guys to be quiet because he doesn't want to wake her up, but she's already up when the enter the house. She ends up making this big Italian meal for the three men in the middle of the night and Tommy takes this huge carving knife and asks her if he can take it because he hit a deer (he explains to her that's why he has blood on his shirt!) and he needs the knife to hack off the hoof of the animal! We then return to the very first scene of the movie and see him use the knife to stab Billy and kill for good this time. Since Billy was a made man, Tommy soon gets his comeuppance and I think we all saw that coming!


Towards the end of the movie, things start to spiral for Henry and he is forced to go into the Witness Protection Program and rat on Jimmy and mob boss leader, Paulie (Paul Sorvino). I just love the way this movie is shot; lots of brilliant camera work. Yes, the movie is very violent, but it IS a gangster movie, after all! It also makes me want to read the book it was based on. I am looking for something to read!

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