Day 350: Goodfellas

#367/ 365 – ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) – 146 mins
IMDb Challenge #239 / 250 – Ranked #16 – DVD Collection

The story of Irish-Italian American, Henry Hill, and how he lives day-to-day life as a member of the Mafia. Based on a true story, the plot revolves around Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his two unstable friends Jimmy (Robert De Niro) and Tommy (Joe Pesci) as they gradually climb the ladder from petty crime to violent murders.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

There are 3 films out there that are frequently and justifiably so, cited as ‘the best gangster movies ever made’, they are ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Godfather: Part II’ and this stylistic masterpiece from Martin Scorsese.

One of the factors which makes Goodfellas, adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s 1985 non-fictional book ‘Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family’ so unforgettable is that Scorsese finds the perfect balance between style and substance. Every camera move is dazzling; every scene is made more intense. But at the same time, the absorbing character work and compelling drama are never sacrificed for the easy thrill of this style. The film also seduces you in much the same way that gangster life seduces, Henry Hill. It draws you in with the attraction and excitement of crime and power.

There are too many great moments to talk of, but Tommy’s explosive tirade in the restaurant would have to come out on top – “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

As for the casting. Robert DeNiro’S sixth collaboration at the time with Scorsese was another that highlighted this director\actor perfection. Ray Liotta gives a career-defining performance in the anti-hero role. Though it’s unquestionably Joe Pesci’s intense Oscar-winning performance as loose-cannon Tommy that leaves the films strongest mark.

Some films hit you so hard with their flawlessness that once the final credits roll, you know that you will have to see the film again and soon – this is one of those films.


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