"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." -- Henry Hill, Brooklyn, 1955
Nobody can deny that Goodfellas is a gangster classic. Based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, the movie follows the real-life story of Henry Hill (Ray Loitta), an associate of the Lucchese crime family. It starts off portraying the exciting, dangerous lives of gangsters, but by the end of the movie, we see a very different, far bleaker perspective of gangster life as circumstances spiral out of control.
Goodfellas is a movie which is driven primarily by its characters. The film centres around Henry Hill, a man who claims that "ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a gangster". As a young teenager, he gets a part-time job under Paul Vario, a 'made member' of the crime family. From this point on, he is drawn towards what he sees as the glamorous life of a gangster. Along the way, he meets Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro), a calm yet somewhat sinister character, and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), the 'crazy' one who is constantly lashing out. The three main lead-actors, particularly De Niro, give standout performances which resonate long after the film has finished.
The viewer is guided through the unfolding story by the voiceover from Henry Hill. As a result, despite his actions, we find ourselves rooting for him throughout the movie. With such strong performances, Scorsese's sledgehammer editing and the fast-paced style, this is the best gangster movie since The Godfather.
Ever wondered what it would be like to jump a queue, slip in the back door of the Copacabana, take a stage side table and sip sparkling champagne the night through? Ever wondered how to make really good spaghetti sauce? Martin Scorsese's gangster movie Goodfellas shows how it fells and how thin to slice garlic, taking you through three decades of heists, hits and expensive grey suits.
It's the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a nice young Irish-Sicilian boy who gets a job working for the local wiseguys, takes a liking to the life, gives up school, ends up moving from cigarettes to cocaine and becomes deeper and deeper involved by the year he realises that he's entrenched in the mob, stuck there for good, not a thing he can do and it is then that things begin to get messy...
Crackling with a sound track of pop and rock and roll that defines the shifting times and gets under its character's skins and an incredible attention to detail - from clothes to food to table clothes - that never stoops to egotistical showiness, Scorsese's movie stands as a parallel picture with The Godfather trilogy. Coppola's movies dealt with the Mafia Gods, the men who ran counties and owned Presidents. Scorsese's characters are the soldier ants, the men who do what they're told and try to make a living without drawing attention to themselves. Where Coppola focused on the skies, Scorsese stares hard at the ground, right through to the total and ironically just implosion of Henry's world into a little suburban heaven way out there in the sticks.
Martin Scorsese finally brought style and realism to the gangster genre with this astounding film based on the memoirs of real-life mobster Henry Hill. More realistic and of less epic proportions than any of The Godfather films, Goodfellas comes across as far more gritty and dirty. Scorsese seems to balance the often-brutal violence and reality of life connected to the mob with the glamour and bravado we associate with the film image of the Mafia.
We follow Hill (Liotta) from his poor Irish-American childhood through his education and rise as Mafia hood to his eventual guise as cocaine dealing wise guy. Greed and addiction suck, Hill and his long-suffering wife Karen (Bracco), in way above their heads.
Drugs, cops the Mafia, paranoia and killers that come as friends. You can smell the paranoia and panic in Hills face as his life crumbles around him.
Excellent performances all around, especially form Joe Pesci who won an Academy Award for his role as on of Hillï¿½s friends, the ultimate in psychotic wise-guy. You wouldnï¿½t want to get in his way! De Niro as ever, excellent portraying another of Hillï¿½s friends and associates, Jimmy. Goodfellas is enthralling and violent to the exciting climax. If youï¿½ve seen it once you know you want to see it again.
Screenings of this film:
|1993/1994 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|1996/1997 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|1999/2000 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2002/2003 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2007/2008 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|2013/2014 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|2023/2024 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2023/2024 Autumn Term – (35mm)|