Goodfellas
Year:
1990
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Biography
IMDB rating:
8.8
Director:
Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro as James 'Jimmy' Conway
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill
Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito
Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill
Paul Sorvino as Paul Cicero
Frank Sivero as Frankie Carbone
Tony Darrow as Sonny Bunz
Mike Starr as Frenchy
Frank Vincent as Billy Batts
Chuck Low as Morris 'Morrie' Kessler
Frank DiLeo as Tuddy Cicero
Gina Mastrogiacomo as Janice Rossi
Catherine Scorsese as Tommy's Mother
Storyline: Henry Hill is a small time gangster, who takes part in a robbery with Jimmy Conway and Tommy De Vito, two other gangsters who have set their sights a bit higher. His two partners kill off everyone else involved in the robbery, and slowly start to climb up through the hierarchy of the Mob. Henry, however, is badly affected by his partners success, but will he stoop low enough to bring about the downfall of Jimmy and Tommy?
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Reviews
See it to believe it
As far back as I can remember, this has been one of my favourite movies. This is a brutally honest and authentic depiction of the Mafia in New York and how they got their fingers in every pie available. The story is told mainly through the eyes of Henry Hill, who we see go from impressionable child to career criminal and finally a beleaguered nervous wreck. Ray Liotta turns in his best performance in the role, Joe Pesci likewise as Tommy DeVito is brilliant in his genuinely terrifying performance of the unstable and merciless mobster. Robert De Niro, although not as psychotic is just as ruthless and frightening in his part as Jimmy Conway, the mob enforcer who could easily be shaking your hand one minute, then shooting you in the head the next, as shown when he has most of the crew who helped in the Lufthansa heist murdered without so much a second thought. The rest of the cast are also brilliant particularly Lorraine Bracco as the impressionable wife of the mobster who finds herself at first attracted by the life and then terrified of it, and Paul Sorvino as the ultimate Mob boss who can bring people into line with just a look. Special mention for Frank Vincent, who, although not in the movie for very long turns in a memorable performance as Billy Batts whose arrogance would end up costing him dear. Goodfellas shows every aspect of the life of a mobster, including its dark and ugly side which shows how high the price can be for the perceived glamorous lifestyle, so I don't agree with the train of thought that it glamorizes organised crime, and its depiction of the lifestyle is feels very real and authentic. This movie is a definitive movie of the ages and one of the best ever made.
2017-08-27
Can A Sick Film Be A Good One, too? I Guess So.
Sad to say, almost everyone I know - at least, the males - who has seen this movie likes it very much. I enjoy it, too. I say "sad" because it's a sick film in many ways. Also, when you have 240-plus f-words in a movie, I mean, come on! In that respect alone, I'm embarrassed to say this movie is part of my collection. That's simply because it's a fascinating story, for the full 145 minutes.

This is a rough film, to say the least. It's not just the language; there are some brutally- violent parts. Joe Pesci's "Tommy DeVito" seems to be involved with some of the worst of that violence Supposedly, the movie is a based on a true story but how much of this is true, who knows? It certainly provides a vivid portrait of Mafia life in New York City. I really loved the narration by Ray Liotta - who doesn't? - and enjoyed the music in here. Most people comment about the music; it's a good soundtrack. Pesci, Liotta, Robert De Niro and Paul Sorvino all make for extremely interesting gangster characters.

With all the language, which includes at least 15 usages of the Lord's name in vain and some subtle religious cheap shots (not surprising considering who directed the film), the gory spots this film gets a little too rough-edged at times. I've watched thousands of crime movies, and this gets to be a little much here and there but if none of the above offends you, you're in for a treat with an intense crime story that is very watchable.
2007-01-12
De Niro at his very best
One of the best films ever made in every aspect. Very difficult to criticise, it truly is a gem for all gangster film lovers. Robert De Niro was masterful not even Pacino,Brando,Nicholson could have portrayed the character of Jimmy Conway as well in my opinion. The intensity and just utter brilliance that De Niro's ability brings to the character dose not allow you to look away from him. Few actors have that ability in my opinion, Brando and Pacino are two who do and who would have struggled to match De Niro. De Niro was supported well to say the least with great performances by Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino. Every time you watch this film you see something different and it reminds you that this film is a masterpiece. Martin Scorsese had truly excelled himself in this film, he's created a benchmark for all future gangster films and to this day nothing has come moderately close. it amazes me how this film never won Best Picture at the Oscars.
2006-10-20
My favourite of all gangster flicks
Goodfellas by director Martin Scorsese is by far my most favourite gangster movie of all times. It's one of those movies that, despite its runtime of over 2 hours, I can watch again and again without ever getting bored at any time.

What it clearly sets it above other masterpieces of this genre like 'The Godfather' is that every scene gives me something. While many other movies of its kind tend to have scenes that get a bit tiresome or just aren't that interesting or entertaining, 'Goodfellas' succeeds to deliver top-notch entertainment until the end.

This is, of course, thanks to the extremely well written script and to the perfect cast. Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro who play the main characters give so good performances, that I could not think of any other actor to play any of those roles and the rest of the cast is equally good.

The movie has a perfect pacing which is also thanks to the narration of Henry Hill alias Ray Liotta. His voice accompanies us through the whole movie and is definitely a huge fun factor. He delivers his story so well that you virtually live through this movie with him. When he describes how he got into the organization and what it's like to be a wiseguy, you really comprehend and feel it.

Then there are the technical aspects of the movie. The camera work is brilliant with very long tracking shots and scenes without a cut which take you as an invisible spectator along through the scenes. And last but not least there's the music. Scorsese makes use of well-known pop music of that time, which really adds to the atmosphere as a whole.

In the end, 'Goodfellas' is my favourite Scorsese and gangster movie as well. There are very few movies (of that length and scope) that manage to deliver such a constant and high entertainment value from start to finish, but this is one that does.
2012-07-05
A masterpiece (spoilers)
The opening to Goodfellas – the murder of Billy Batts – shows the beginning of the end of Henry Hill. Up until that point, despite the thieving and the violence, everything is rather light-hearted. There's a sense of solidarity amongst the criminals. But once Batts is murdered, infighting, greed and addiction take over. The life will get you in the end.

But the opening scenes are great at establishing the allure of being a gangster. After all, as the movies have always shown, it's a very seductive world. I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to thumb their nose in the face of the law if they could get away with it? Therefore it's totally right that the film shows you all the fun aspects of this criminal life. And at the beginning the camera focuses on all the accoutrements of gangsterism – jewellery, shoes, cars etc. They're almost like movie stars.

And at the beginning the violence is even intended to seduce you. There's a great bit where Henry's postman is threatened with an oven to make sure he doesn't give any school letters to Henry's parents. The way it's shot and scored makes it seem like something of a lark. You're asked to acknowledge and respect the power and audacity of these guys. And the icing on the cake is the final-freeze frame of the terrified postman's face – these guys control life and death; if you don't respect them you're going in the oven.

But freeze-frames occur frequently in the early part of the film. There's a powerful shot where Henry's dad is beating him with a belt and it's stopped right in the middle of the whipping. It makes the beating seem even more violent than it already is and it makes you understand and identify with Henry's rebellion; soon no one will be able to do that to him again. However, the most famous freeze-frame in the film is when Henry sets the cars on fire. The image is held as Henry makes a Christ-like pose with flames behind him – he's finally in the life; welcome to hell.

And another early scene I like is when the young Henry gets pinched. He thinks the guys will be mad at him for getting caught, but because he keeps his mouth shut he's welcomed from the court like a conquering hero. And the scene even ends with another freeze-frame. It might as well be a family portrait.

But the good times extend into Henry's adult life. He steals trucks, makes lots of money and even falls in love. And this leads to another great scene – the long Steadicam shot when Henry takes Karen to the Copacabana. This is her seduction. This is when she is seduced by the life. And another seduction is the scene where Henry pummels one of Karen's neighbours. He's supposed to have touched Karen so Henry rearranges his face with the butt of his gun. But although it's incredibly violent and although the sound effects make you wince, you can see why Karen would be turned on. How many other men would do this for her? How many other men would protect her in such a brutal way? Not many.

However, like I said at the beginning, Billy Batts is when everything begins to go downhill. From that point on the murders become more frequent and collective greed is overtaken by personal greed. But I do have to say that the Batts murder is my favourite scene. The dialogue and the timing between Joe Pesci and Frank Vincent is outstanding and the beating has so much emotion. You kind of get whipped up in it yourself. You can feel what it must be like to get your on back on someone you hate. And the choice of music ('Atlantis' by Donovan) is perfect. It raises the scene to another level.

But Scorsese's choice of music is always spot-on. The other musical highlight has to be his use of the closing music in 'Layla'. It's a beautiful piece, which makes it work well with the grisly murders it shows – the images kind of show an end of an era, which, what with the music, lends the whole sequence a strange kind of romanticism. And it also works well because the emotion of the song and the final piece of music go hand in hand with what Jimmy (De Niro) is feeling at the time – the song and the music is about yearning for someone and then having that love fulfilled, and Jimmy is beside himself with pleasure that Tommy (Pesci) is being made. He thinks his dreams are finally coming true.

Unfortunately, though, that sequence is when the real nightmare kicks in. After this, Henry becomes an addict and screws up so bad that he has to betray his friends. And the sequence that shows the day of his arrest is rather amazing. Again Scorsese proves himself to be a master of using music to emphasise emotion and mood, and it's shot in such a way with zooms and fast edits that you feel as strung out as Henry. It's coke film-making…but in a good way.

And I also like the final scene between Jimmy and Karen. With smiles and promises he tries to whack her, but she gets scared and manages to get away. It's a good way of showing what's wrong with this life without moralising – in this life you can never truly trust your friends; and who really wants to live like that?

But at the end, despite everything, you also get to see that Henry misses his life. And although it's supremely arrogant of him to say that he gets to live the rest of his life like a schnook, you sort of know what he means. If only he and his pals weren't so damn greedy they would have had it made.
2006-05-06
It's the real thing.
This film is a instant classic. It documents the life of Henry Hill and how he got into being part of the Mob. The amazing thing is that it's no fiction, even if it was, it's still beautiful. It's based on a book called Wiseguy written by Nicholas Pileggi. He met the real Henry Hill and made his story into a best selling book. Scorsese worked with Pileggi after liking the fast pace of the book, and they wrote the script. It was developed into this film. Casting is another great thing about the film, it seems that all the actors fit perfectly in their roles. It also has some really funny bits. Pileggi worked with Scorsese on another great Mob film, Casino.
1998-09-07
A perfect film.
This has everything a movie should have. A great story, acting, cinematography, direction, (I will never understand how Scorsese did not win his 1st Oscar!) production values, I can go on and on. There is nothing that isn't done perfectly on this film. If this were to come out in any given year it would be considered a classic. I understand that there are the hardcore devotee's to The 1st two Godfather films, but to me (and many others) this is the quintessential gangster film. I used to watch this film over and over and I usually try and nitpick even some of of the all time great films, but there is nothing I can pick on in this film! I had kind of seen Scorsese films before and really liked most of them, (Taxi Driver, & Raging Bull especially) but ever since "Goodfellas" I would follow everything he did. I didn't follow the Oscars when I was a kid, but was shocked to learn this didn't win Best Picture however the fact that "Dances with Wolves" did was one of the few times I wish the Oscar should could have been shared. As much as I loved "Wolves" "Goodfellas" has held up as the better picture. If you haven't seen this film and consider your self a serious film afectiando you need to see this before you are laughed at by actual filmphiles.
2008-04-01
Scorsese's snappy, hip Mafia flick with Ray Liotta, De Niro, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino
RELEASED IN 1990 and directed by Martin Scorsese, "Goodfellas" tells the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his life through his teen years in the late 50s through his years in the Mob in the 60s-80s, covering his relationships with his wife (Lorraine Bracco), his mistress (Gina Mastrogiacomo), his Boss (Paul Sorvino) and his partners Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) & Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in the Italian-American crime syndicate in the New York City area.

I'm not big on mob movies, but I have to admit that "Goodfellas" is consistently entertaining and delivers a potent message on misguided loyalties, greed and the folly of getting involved in organized crime regardless of its "great perks." In the long run it ain't worth it. I couldn't wait till the arrogant little POS Tommy (Pesci) bought the farm. The feminine cast is rounded out by Debi Mazar and Welker White. Even Samuel L. Jackson shows up.

THE MOVIE RUNS 146 minutes and was shot mostly in the New York City/New Jersey area, but also Chicago & Tampa. WRITERS: Nicholas Pileggi with additional stuff from Scorsese.

GRADE: B+
2017-09-13
Innocent To Goodfella To Schnook.
A fine tribal study of modern gangsterism in New York City. There are one or two allusions to being a "made man" but the words "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" never appear, though all the main figures are Italian, observe Italian moral codes, and occasionally lapse into the language of the Old Country. If you really want to be a member of the Goodfellas, it's not enough to be simply part Italian. You need to be ALL Italian, with traceable ancestry to the motherland, preferably Sicily.

Everyone except some Federal Agents are corrupt. The wives know what's going on and are often complicit, though they have little to say about business decisions. They're satisfied with the solidarity of the larger family, the special parking places, the secret entrances to the Copacabana, the respect shown themselves and their well-groomed husbands, and the general opulence of their life styles. The girl friends enjoy many of the same privileges but are mainly the subject of jokes, which wives and children are not. Well, some are Madonnas and some are whores.

The cops are partners in crime, whether the gangsters are on the streets or in prison. They become your major domos for a few cartons of cigarettes and an occasional big bill tucked into a shirt pocket. Your first jail term turns into a rite of passage, and you're given a celebration before you're packed off. The men clap and cry out "Your cherry is broke now." Prison itself is not a bad place if you're a wise guy. No one would dream of trying to rape you. You live with friends and share elaborate dinners and good wines with them.

There are only two problems; one is interactional, the other moral and economic.

As for the interactional problem, you can never really tell whether someone will become a "rat," not even if you've known him all your life. From the point of view of a protagonist like Henry Hill, whose story this is, it's very bad to be a rat instead of a stand-up guy. On the other hand, it's much better to be a rat instead of a dead guy. Severe beatings are common, even for men who are no more than irritating or even for innocents like mailmen. And when an important deal is at stake, whacking is necessary.

Whacking is also applied to men who unwisely insult others, because this is a culture of honor. It's like the Old West without Wyatt Earp. "When you call me that, smile." And sometimes smiling isn't enough. The derision must be clearly couched. Half a couch may not do. Personal affronts call for a passionate butchery, but business transactions are cold blooded and maximally effective.

This social system is real enough. In certain bars in New York and New Jersey I was unwise enough to make some joke about Mafia hangouts and received warnings. And in Little Charlie's Restaurant on Kenmare Street in Little Italy, two tables were always kept empty in case some local businessmen decided to drop in unannounced.

The movie is told from Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta's) point of view and he narrates most of it. Hill was half Irish and married a Jewish girl but was accepted, within certain limitations. That brings up the moral questions built into the film. These guys are friendly and generous to each other. But who pay for all that reckless spending? You and I. The gang isn't a charitable organization. Every time we buy something or rent an apartment, it costs a little more because of them, and they contribute nothing except mutual support.

It's an immoral subculture in which the goals of society -- respect, wealth, material satisfaction, friendship -- are accepted, but society's means of achieving those goals -- following the rules, upholding the law, respecting the rights of strangers -- are rejected. The sociologist Robert K. Merton called them "innovators" and that's what they are. They invent and follow illegal rules for achieving society's goals. From an ethical perspective, it's a much better story than Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" series, which was an apologia for the Mafia, portrayed as a neighborhood organization that simply fills certain control functions that the regular police will or can not. No one was killed in "The Godfather" unless he was a coward and a traitor and deserved it. In "Goodfellas", a kid gets shot through the foot for being slow in delivering drinks to a table, and the incident is treated as a stupid joke. No one even TRIES justifying the act. When the same kid is later slaughtered for a resentful remark, the dead body is treated as a nuisance.

The acting is unimpeachable, and so is the production design. You can almost smell the cigars, the perfume, the marinara sauce cooking in the large pot on the stove. (Everybody eats a lot in this movie.) You should definitely see it if you haven't already. It's naturalism is convincing and there is no Marlon Brando to sympathize with.
2012-07-26
Not Good At All
Goodfellas is the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) an ambitious young Irish-Italian American who becomes surrounded by a gritty world of crime and violence, set in '60s and '70s New York, while trying to climb the ladder of success in the Mafia. His two best friends are Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The latter is one of the most vile and disgusting characters ever captured on film. His wife is Karen (Lorraine Braaco) and she seems to be the only one who sees where Henry is truly going if he continues to stay in this brutal life of crime.

The film is based on the true story of the life of Henry Hill and what a life that must have been. A life of prisons, robberies, drugs, and hijacks is no way to live, but the main characters does all of them to keep his reputation and his fortune. He doesn't count on betrayal and death to turn him against that life of luxury, but he finds out that he must choose between the life of crime that's spiraling downward or a life of a rat that might have a chance to live in peace.

That gritty world of crime ended up being too gritty for my tastes. And all of the characters were much too grotesque to be likable. Even our main character is a scumbag that doesn't know what he's gotten himself into until it might be too late. Since there wasn't one character in my eyes that I could relate to or that redeemed himself, I had to rate this movie like any other Scorsese film that failed to give me what I wanted. Therefore, I didn't like this film and am not surprised since all of the Scorsese films that I've seen up to this point were made in the same fashion.

Somehow, the film went on to win an Academy Award for Joe Pesci as Best Supporting Actor at the 1990 Oscars. It was nominated for five other Oscars that year including Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Braaco), Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.
2005-10-08
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