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Crime, Drama, Thriller, Biography
IMDB rating:
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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The best mobster film ever made
After you see this movie, all other mobster movies you see or ever have seen will seem like garbage. They and their cast of characters will all appear cartoonish in comparison. Of course, this is a movie about the mafia from the working man/gangster point of view, where "The Godfather" was a mafia movie filmed from the viewpoint of the executive suite, so there really is no valid comparison there. "Goodfellas" really does seem ahead of its time when you realize that the only artistic work about the mafia that compares to it in quality is the HBO series "The Sopranos", which debuted nine years after this movie was made.

"Goodfellas" tells the real-life story of mobster Henry Hill, and it is largely true, although there are individual scenes that are out of sequence and others that were added for dramatic effect, such as Karen Hill flushing the cocaine down the toilet during the drug bust. Also, Tommy, the character that Joe Pesci played and the part for which he won an Oscar, was actually a composite of two separate gangsters. Other details are omitted completely, probably because they would have spun the movie off in too many different directions. For example, crime boss "Big Paulie" actually was having an affair with Henry Hill's wife, Karen. When Tommy tried to rape her and Paulie found out, that was when he alerted the Gambinos to the fact that Tommy had killed their missing crew member, "made man" Billy Batts, nine years earlier. This is the true reason that it took so long for Tommy to be killed over that incident. Thus, masterful direction of the story by Martin Scorsese in what was probably his finest film is why the audience has a more cohesive view of the mobsters portrayed in this movie than if we had been told every last detail.

What really makes this movie great is all of the personal details that enable you to see these mobsters living a largely suburban life, concerned about kids' birthday parties and getting the sauce just right for dinner, and all the while completely immersed in a completely amoral lifestyle in which murder and bribes solve everything- a lifestyle to which they would never voluntarily choose an alternative.
As good as those fellas are...I just don't get it
I have nothing against gangster films and I love Deniro, and Liotta and moderation...The Godfather were brilliant films and I finally made my way around to seeing the infamously talked about 'Goodfellas.' I don't get it. I'll take the heat from any fans and I know there are scores of them...Goodfellas was average at best and simply a trashy look at a mobster from childhood to his end in the mob with some decent but over the top performance, brutally gratuitous language and violence. I suppose in some circles that equivalents to a great film but I need far more. I mean even the story has little depth to it and it's more or less an extended episode of The Sopranos without the character depth. I suppose after having the film hyped for years and hearing about the 'classic' I had high expectations but for me it was run of the mill, annoyingly loud and abrasive but with some good direction. Scorsese knows how to make an epic from beginning to end starting the film in the 50's and 60's and taking it all the way to the mid 80's is a challenge and he does it flawlessly. The gritty underworld, the dark lighting, the facial expressions all very good but put to a pointless story and sub par characters unfortunately.

I finally know now why Ray Liotta is still around and still gets parts because I always found him a little obnoxious in roles and I never realized he single handedly headlined Goodfellas and is great at it. His character might be the only one in the film given any depth considering he is the narrator and focus of the film. Disgustingly Liotta got no nomination that year which is absurd because if this film deserved anything (which I don't think it did) Liotta's role was it. Robert Deniro commonly gets credit for the film as being the headliner which is also a bit absurd. He might be the big name for the film but his role was small. He didn't make a significant part in the film until a good hour into it and his role was small but he still certainly brought his Deniro class and style to the ensemble. I think they would have done better to focus more on his character and his relationship with Liotta's character. They had good chemistry but just when you wanted to see more...they moved on to something else. Joe Pesci was over the top insane, downright disturbed Tommy Devito. His performance in this film is legendary "Oh you think I'm a clown?" but to be perfectly honest he was ridiculous. His performance wasn't sincere or believable and he was downright annoying. He was loud and abrasive and his barrage of gratuitous language actually made the film less watchable and I am not against the use of four letter words in film but his was too much. Lorraine Bracco was quite good in her pre-Soprano role as Liotta's wife Karen who sticks with him through pretty much everything and has some powerfully emotional swings throughout the film. Paul Sorvino is good as the head of the mob family, Paulie, but he doesn't make an impact. You don't really believe anyone would respect him. He's quiet and laid back and basically hiding throughout most of the film. At least with Brando's Godfather he was an image, an icon, something you just were in awe of. The cast all work well together but their characters are so thinly written you just don't give a damn about a single one of them except maybe a little for Liotta's Jimmy Conway.

I get that I'm in a severe minority speaking this way about this film and that director Martin Scorsese is like a god to some but I just didn't seem the talent in this film. Scorsese showed talent in The Departed and the cast was a million times better than Goodfellas and deserved all of it's acclaim but I personally think Goodfellas is more of a non-thinking man's mob movie where bloody brutal kills and 1000 times hearing the 'F' word would prompt a dull chuckle as though the audience were 10. No I am not trying to insult anyone I was just severely disappointed by this film after having expected a brilliant classic which I will say hands down is not the case. I suppose if you like the crime genre or moreso the gangster drama than you must see Goodfellas anyways but I can promise you there is FAR better out there than this average, poorly written film. 6/10
A masterpiece exposing misguided loyalties and greed
Scorcese & Pileggi's masterpiece on the life of Henry Hill as a Brooklyn NY mob wise-guy.

As much as the true events of Henry's life have more than likely been dramatised and glamourised to a certain extent, the essence of this film IMO is that it is still a brilliantly damning portrayal of the characters and lifestyle of mobsters.

The sham of the mafiosi is exposed - preaching loyalty, respect & principles - but when it comes down to it they are just two-bit criminals that'll stab each other in the back for money or power over others. Each of them has an inflated sense of self-worth and stature that comes with being a "wiseguy", breeding with it paranoia that others are not giving them the respect they deserve.

An example is De Niro's portrayal of Jimmy Conway. His outward persona is that of a calm and reasonable nature. But really he is a paranoid killer who at the drop of a hat would kill even his closest associates for money. I use associates rather than friends, as their relationships are of tolerance rather than kinship. Distrust, hate and jealousy through the forced smiles.

Interesting that given this, certain people envy their life-style and would have loved to have been a wiseguy. I personally couldn't think of anything worse that being tied for life with having to keep the likes of Tommy company, but whatever rocks your boat. Some people have actually paid to see The Dukes of Hazzard film, so I shouldn't be surprised.
A classic mobster film.
This is one hell of a film about the mobsters, based on a true story and coming from one of the great directors of all time. This is about Henry Hill, the narrator of the story, an Irish simple person who gets involved with the Mafia at a very young age and continues his life through it. There is no major plot in this film, just isolated incidents one of which was the turning point of Hill's life. Scorsese, as brilliant as he ever was, shows violence, sex and drugs etc in his own trademark style. And his actors helps him to make this film one of the classics.

Robert DeNiro is not present in much of the film, nor his acting leaves too much impression. The three actors who really did their best job here are Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco. I hate to say that most youngsters today don't know too much about Liotta or how talented he was. I asked my younger brother about him and he said, "The man who did the voice on GTA: Vice City?". This is partly because Liotta did not get too many big roles after that, especially in recent years. But here he is just brilliant as Hill. It's Pesci's one of the best too. Playing a mad mobster with dark sense of humor wasn't his usual type. And Lorraine Bracco becomes the perfect lead female in such type of films.

The film's got smart screenplay and excellent cinematography. And I don't know how many times Scorsese will be denied his Academy recognition. I hate to see a lifetime achievement award as his first Oscar. But things are going like that.
A true classic
This is the gangster film at its finest. Scorsese is on top form as are Pesci and De Niro. Liotta has never bettered the performance he gives here. The film starts as it means to go on - violent, full of profanity, fast paced and very stylish. The story follows Liotta's character from boy to man as he climbs his way up through the ranks of organised crime. We see all the highs and lows of his life and meet a host of very believable and very undesirable characters along the way. It's a film full of memorable scenes whilst remaining much more than the sum of its individual parts at the same time. This is what all movies should be like. It draws you in and won't let you out of its grasp at any point. When it finishes you feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. If ever the word 'masterpiece' was meant to be used, it was for this film.
My favourite mafia movie
The first title that will come to most people's mind when thinking of mafia films is inevitably 'The Godfather' - a timeless classic that many consider to be the greatest movie of all time. However, as good as 'The Godfather' is, there's something about 'Goodfellas' that I enjoy more.

Maybe it's the way the story is told, or the fact that the violence in 'Goodfellas' is a lot more ruthless and brutal. It also has more entertainment value compared to the plot heavy Godfather. Whatever the reason, 'Goodfellas' is a film I enjoy immensely and is up there as one of my favourites in the crime genre.

Aside from the story, 'Goodfellas' is a near perfect piece of filmmaking, with a witty and intelligent script, brilliant acting throughout, and terrific cinematography. 'Goodfellas' is a near flawless movie.
Goodfellas depicts the rise and downfall of Henry Hill's mob career, and the demise of his way of life.
The movie, Goodfellas, is the true story of Henry Hill, a former American mobster. Henry (Ray Liotta) was born into a working class family in Brooklyn, New York. Henry knew from an early age that he wanted more out of life than simply struggling to make ends meet. When, as a teenager, he had the opportunity to run errands for the Lucchese crime family as a means of earning money, he immediately got a taste of the life he so desperately wanted to lead. Henry dropped out of school to begin working for the Lucchese crime family full-time. After his first arrest, Henry learned the most important rule of living life as a mobster: "Never rat out your friends, and always keep your mouth shut." Henry quickly made his way through the ranks of the Lucchese crime family, and became very successful in his new career. Henry eventually spends time in prison, and ends up getting involved in a side business of selling drugs, which went against the wishes of the Lucchese crime boss, Paulie (Paul Sorvino). In the end, Henry is forced to turn against his crime family, and leave the mob life that he always wanted to lead in order to save his own life. Goodfellas depicts the rise and downfall of Henry's mob career, and the demise of his way of life.

The theme of Goodfellas is a focus on the character development of Henry Hill, and his desire to live life as a rich and successful gangster. The storyline is presented as a linear flashback of Henry's life, narrated by Henry himself. Henry believed that "being a gangster was better than being the President of the United States." It was the only thing that he ever wanted to do. Henry believed that being a gangster would allow him to achieve the highest level of success that he valued most: respect. Henry wanted desperately to be "…a somebody in a neighborhood full of nobodies." The desire to have the respect of those around him was Henry's motivation to become a gangster.

Henry admired the mob boss, Paulie, for the respect that he garnered – the respect that Henry so desperately wanted to attain. Henry began working at the cabstand and the Pizzeria that Paulie owned, and worked through the ranks of the Mob's organization, from parking cars, to making deliveries, to carrying out important tasks. Henry liked the respect he received from others in the neighborhood due to his association with top gangsters. He stated, "People looked at me differently, and they knew I was with somebody. I didn't have to wait in line at the bakery on Sunday morning…the owner knew who I was, and no matter how many people were in line, I was taken care of first." Henry's motivation was the respect that he earned in being a gangster.

Henry's compulsive desire for money, social status, and success led him to start a side business of drug dealing, which was something that Paulie strictly forbade, and went against his "family." Eventually, Henry gets busted for dealing drugs, and the police have enough evidence of his involvement with drug dealing that he is looking at a life sentence in prison with no parole. Paulie becomes angry because Henry had lied to him and disobeyed his command to stop the drug business. Paulie tells Henry that he has to turn his back on him, meaning that his relationship with the Lucchese crime family is over. Knowing that he, Karen, and their children are marked targets, Henry saw no other choice but to break his trust with the Lucchese crime family and enter the witness protection program so he could divulge information about his dealings with the mob. If he didn't, Henry knew it would just be a matter of time before he and his family were killed. In the end, Henry lost his trust with the people he had worked with for a lifetime, and was forced to turn his back on them, and more importantly, the life he loved the most. He was forced to break the most important rule in the life of a mobster – never rat out your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.

The use of cinematic techniques help to define Henry's character throughout the movie, and support the theme of the rise and fall of Henry's mob career. Director, Martin Scorsese, used unique camera angles to show the development of Henry's character, and the rise of Henry's mobster status. In the first scene that reveals an adult Henry, the camera angle is shooting Henry from the bottom, looking upward, giving Henry the appearance that he is larger than life, and has been raised to mobster status. Another cinematic technique used to further develop Henry's character is through the viewer gaining insight into Henry's internal actions. The entire film is told through Henry's perspective, and the viewer has insight into Henry's deepest thoughts about his own actions and the actions of those around him.

Goodfellas is a study in how Henry's greed and desire for status and respect ultimately leads to his downfall. For Henry, even harder than breaking trust and turning against his crime family, was the loss of the way of life he had become so accustomed to, as Henry states in the final scene:

The hardest thing for me was to have to leave the life. I still love the life…And now, it's all over….There's no action – I have to wait around like everyone else… I'm an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.

Henry lost everything he had ever wanted out of life. As the movie fades, you see the end result of Henry's deal with the witness protection program – living in suburbia, he is now forced to live the boring life of the people he used to mock – the life of a schnook.
The Criminal Mindset
The gangster film has been redefined so many times in cinema history it will be interesting to see how it is redefined once again. Goodfellas is a milestone film in that regard because just as Public Enemy and Little Caesar defined it in the Thirties, The Godfather trilogy in the seventies and eighties, Goodfellas set the standard that all other films including Martin Scorsese similar Casino try to meet. The interesting thing is that Martin Scorsese is young enough to redefine it again with another work.

With Ray Liotta narrating his own life in crime in a flashback as real life criminal Henry Hill, Martin Scorsese offers us one fascinating glimpse of the criminal life in the Eisenhower to Reagan era. Henry Hill even as a child got sucked into the criminal life as a kid, as he said all he ever wanted to be was a gangster. Tutored by both Robert DeNiro and Paul Sorvino, Liotta takes part in one of the biggest heists of all time of Lufthansa Airlines at JFK Airport during the seventies. Goodfellas is the story of the events from Henry Hill's perspective leading up to the heist and the aftermath.

For myself I've never seen the gangster mentality better expressed on screen except maybe by Sean Connery in Family Business. Liotta and Connery operate from the same mindset. If you work hard and hope it pays off in success, you're a dope. If you want something, just take it. When you come right down to it, that's how criminals think, it's the rest of us who are fools.

Goodfellas was nominated for several Oscars, but came away with only one winner, Joe Pesci in the role of crazy Tommy DeVito. He's another criminal type, one who's driven by a terrible inferiority complex due to his short stature and does terrible things even to his own peers. And those peers don't forget as you see what happens to Pesci in Goodfellas. This turned out to be a career role for Pesci. He's a multi-talented man who's got an incredible range and can play everything from the Home Alone comedies to stone killers like here in Goodfellas or in Casino.

There's usually a contest in which Scorsese fans argue whether Casino or Goodfellas is better. I happen to like Casino, but without the success of Goodfellas, Casino would not have been made.

For a fascinating look at the criminal mindset, Goodfellas is an absolute must.
"He shoots him in the foot, he tells him to go f**k himself."
One of the best and funniest lines in an excellent movie.

Goodfellas is, in my opinion, one of the best movies Scorsese's ever made. It has such great momentum, both dramatically and visually. Ballhaus and Schoonmaker are really at the top of their game in this movie. Fantastic.

But it's all in the story. If you don't have it on paper, it doesn't matter how many cool camera angles or transitions you can come up with. The movie runs for almost two and a half hours, yet it never gets boring. It always manages to get, and keep, you interested. The script is perfect. I normally have sort of a problem with voice overs. As Brian Cox says in Adaptation: "God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That's flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character."

But here it works wonders, it helps to propel the story along with the excellent soundtrack.

And the characters... The names alone... Jimmy Two Times, Johnny Roastbeef, Joe Buddha... Why don't we see people like Frank Cicero and Frank Vincent in more movies?

Not to mention Ray Liotta. I don't get why he isn't hired more often. Regardless how bad the movie is, he usually is able to make something interesting and/or funny out of his character. Take "Copland" or "Hannibal" or "Heartbreakers" or "Blow" or why not "Narc"? Well, as always, there are exceptions. I wouldn't see "Operation Dumbo Drop" or "Escape from Absolom" again, even if my life depended on it...

Joe Pesci is... ...well, he's Joe Pesci in this movie. But I gotta hand it to him, no one can pull off a Joe Pesci like he can! He IS funny like a clown, and he DOES amuse me!

Robert De Niro's perfect as the laid back gangster Jimmy Conway who just explodes with fits of rage.

As I said, one of Scorsese's best. He's one of my all-time favourite directors, but I just wish he'd stop making cr*p like Gangs of New York. The Special Edition of Goodfellas is coming out on DVD in Europe this fall, and I'll be waiting first in line to replace my old version.

I'd recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a movie with both a compelling story as well as great characters. Although I have to leave a little caveat, It IS violent.
One of Scorcese's Masterpieces
'Goodfellas' is right up there with the best of Martin Scorcese. I recently hauled this out for a re-viewing and I was surprised at how totally up to date it felt. How relevant the plot was, how topical the story.

And for a mafia movie of that era, how the women were brought front and centre and given a narrative voice - Karen Hill (played by Lorraine Bracco), the wife of the protagonist, Henry Hill (played by a riveting Ray Liotta) both get to tell their stories.

The movie is based on a true story and the cast are awesome. At this later viewing I was particularly interested to see many of "The Sopranos" cast, here making their debuts in a similar crime-family drama.

The movie is astounding in that it brings complexity, a riveting script, brilliant relevant music (with actual stars performing their hits) and mind boggling tracking shots, the most difficult of all movie sequencing. Scorcese, or his ensemble, do not flinch from the complexity of this and afterwards, one wonders at how many takes were involved.

We are drawn into the intimate life of a crime family, the gradual desensitizing to the horror of the life, driven by material greed at any cost, including the callous snuffing of lives.

The large ensemble cast (both known and unknown and including both of Scorcese's parents in brilliant sidebits), the cinematography, editing and dialogue are all masterful.

De Niro is at his charming best,Joe Pesci captivates as a psychotic, insecure 'made' man Lorraine Bracco is masterful in a fully developed role, Ray Liotta is marvellous in the way he depicts the reality of the hoodlum life, the juxta-positioning of sauce making against the back drop of victim burials. Paul Sorvino, Michael Imperioli, Debi Mazar, Samuel L. Jackson, Illeana Douglas and Kevin Corrigan all add to the over all engrossing engagement of the film.

8 out of 10. Not to be missed.
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