193 - GoodFellas (1990)

Following the rise of three men in the mob.

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) - a small time gangster - has the backing of one of the most respected big fish in the gang community. As a result he is able to work his way up through the mob as he organises various robberies.

When he gets wind of a plan to rob a large bank, he invites his two friends Tommy (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy (Robert de Niro) along. After the robbery they start to become increasingly paranoid, killing off anyone who dares to make a mistake.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
From Casino I remember Joe Pesci playing an overly violent member of the mob with an inferiority complex, so when GoodFellas opened with a scene featuring Pesci in exactly the same scenario I knew we were onto a winner.

Despite (for me at least) Pesci playing very well to type and being the outstanding actor on show, it is Ray Liotta's film as the protagonist. Considering he is up against both Pesci and Robert de Niro for the on-screen attention he too performs very well.

For the first half of GoodFellas I had it straight down as a five star film. Henry's introduction to the mob as a child heralded some very funny moments and this continued on through the first hour or so. The seriousness of his - and his family's - situation was never overlooked throughout the comedy though and this shines through with a dark edge. Typical Scorsese, really.

Later though, the film loses its funny moments and also seems to lose its way. I lost track of the plot before the bank robbery as more and more characters were introduced into the mix. As a result I slowly began to lose interest until the number of characters were whittled down once more to the main three.

That said, when it got good again, it got really good. Robert de Niro's transformation into sinister and Liotta's turn at acting a desperate soul slowly got up to the pace that Pesci had set throughout the film.

A film of three parts, really. Good, Mediocre, Awesome.


  1. I don't think it's a coincidence you noticed, essentially, two parts of the film. The first half is upbeat as Henry ascends the ranks. The second half is about his downfall, so the filmmaking style changes as well. Scorsese's camerawork becomes more frenetic and claustrophobic, and far less arrogant (for lack of a better word) as Henry gets taken down.

    Nice write up!

  2. I loved this movie and mark as one I will pick up at any point if I am channel surfing. Pesci was born for that role. Nice review.

  3. All the voiceover really annoys me. The same with "Casino." Just let the story tell itself, Scorsese!

  4. I know what you mean about getting confused amidst all the characters, but this is still a very solid film. And that shot going through the kitchens, love it.


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