Customer Reviews: GoodFellas [Blu-ray]
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on August 22, 2004
(I've rearranged this review in descending chronological order to make it easier for people who are looking for information on the most recent Blu-ray edition of the film.)

**UPDATE No. 2 - 6/16/2015**

"I don't care if they come out with the deluxe 25th Anniversary 3D Super-BluRay Scratch 'n Sniff Edition, I'm not biting." --Me, 2010

Well hello again, folks, I guess it's time to eat my words. I was going to abstain from buying this new 25th Anniversary release, I really, really was. But then the rumors started. A new remastering of the film personally supervised by Martin Scorsese. A freshly remastered DTS-HD audio track. An anniversary screening at the Tribeca Film Festival to show off the movie's facelift. I scoffed. I grumbled.

And boy, was I wrong to do so.

This is the presentation of the film cinephiles have been wanting for years. Warner Brothers has produced a superlative Blu-ray (the original iconic poster design is gone and replaced by a garishly colored new cover, but we've seen the original plenty), spread over two discs to preserve picture quality (movie on disc one, extras on disc two). Included in the package is a nice booklet with production stills, an essay by Mr. Scorsese, and instructions on how to redeem the Ultraviolet Digital Copy (which I've always found needlessly complicated, but that's an issue for another review).

The original negative has been scanned in at 4K for this release-- don't worry if you don't know what any of that stuff means, just know that this is the best Goodfellas has ever looked. Details and colors pop like never before. (And personal pet peeve addressed, that stupid line running down Robert DeNiro's face during the scene at Henry's girlfriend's apartment is GONE.) Even better is the new DTS-HD surround track; after years of suffering through the same slightly modified Dolby 5.1 track, the audio brings the film to life like never before. When Henry whirls Karen through the kitchen of the Copa, you'll swear you were walking in there with them amidst the clattering pans and clinking dishes, the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me" hovering above it all. It's *that* good.

As for the extras, there's only one new one of note, but it's a goodie, directed by Brett Ratner of all people: "Scorsese's Goodfellas", a half-hour look back at the film containing new interviews with some of the key players (still no Joe Pesci, though, unfortunately). All other extras are ported over from the earlier releases, including:

-Cast & crew "scene specific" commentary
-Henry Hill & Ed McDonald commentary
-Original 30 min. "Making Of' Documentary from 2004 Special Edition DVD
-Interviews with filmmakers influenced by Goodfellas (13 min.)
-Storyboard comparisons
-Cast & crew anecdotes
-Warner Bros. gangster film documentary
-"Looney Tunes" gangster-themed cartoons

I can honestly say that this is the version of Goodfellas I've been waiting for, and I'm proud to eat crow on this one. After all this time, I can finally bump this one up to an easy five stars. Good job, Warners!

(See the original entries below for some thoughts on the film and a more extensive breakdown of some of the extras available on earlier releases. Thanks for reading!)

**UPDATE - 12/31/2010** Having recently gotten a PS3, I've been going nuts updating as many of my DVDs as possible to Blu-Ray, but like most people who've made the switch, I've come to learn that it's not always worth it in every case. I just got the new 20th Anniversary Edition Goodfellas BluRay and I can confirm that it has the same exact lame special features we were issued on the so-called "special" edition DVD six years ago (with two "new" extras; more on that in a minute).

The image upgrade is noticeable to me, but not impressive enough (that line is STILL running down De Niro's face) for me to recommend laying out yet another 20-odd dollars for the same product. C'mon, Warners, all this time and you still haven't learned your lesson? And being that this is Blu-Ray, maybe a TrueHD audio track would be in order? Nope, we get the same old 5.1. Thanks a pantload.

So what's new on this 20th Anniversary release? Well, I'll admit it does have a snazzy hardbound book-shaped case, even if it doesn't have much in common with the film, design-wise. There's also a pretty nice booklet about 30 pages long with stills from the movie. There are also two additional features that weren't present on the original DVD: a documentary on the history of the '30s and '40s gangster movies and a selection of mob-themed Looney Tunes shorts. The problem is, this is recycled content; the cartoons can be found in the Looney Tunes sets, while the documentary is a leftover from a Warner Brothers gangster movie box set released a few years ago. They're both fun, both interesting, but have only the most tenuous connections with Goodfellas. Couldn't squeeze one substantial new extra out of this new release, could they? Once again, all people wanted was a little decent treatment given to one of the best movies ever produced by a major studio. Once again, Warner Brothers has proven they just don't get it. Fair enough, but this is the last copy of Goodfellas I buy. I don't care if they come out with the deluxe 25th Anniversary 3D Super-BluRay Scratch 'n Sniff Edition, I'm not biting.

On a side note, I just want to say thanks to everybody for all the helpful votes and whatnot, glad you found this review useful over time. Take care!

**ORIGINAL 2004 REVIEW** There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about "Goodfellas"... it's one of the best movies ever. To hell with the AFI, this is arguably one of the top 10 American movies ever made! Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco: five top-notch talents operating on all 8 cylinders in this story about three decades of life in the mob.

Now, you'd think that Warner Brothers would give this movie the most complete Warner DVD release that's ever existed. A fervent popular following, a high level of anticipation for a special edition, and the current booming state of the DVD industry should've made this a no-brainer slam dunk for Warner's marketing and home video departments. And so, after years of having to flip over the old disc, after years of almost crushing that flimsy snap case, after years of listening to that 5.1 surround that sounded suspiciously like 2-channel, should you get this new version?? The answer is a resounding..."maybe".

Arguably the biggest plus to this new edition of "Goodfellas" is the fact that the whole movie is contained on a single side of a dual-layered disc. The "all-new digital transfer", enhanced for 16:9, is only a marginal improvement over the original release (which was also listed as being "enhanced for widescreen TVs" on the package; it wasn't). Strangely enough, in the scene where Jimmy (De Niro) and Paulie (Paul Sorvino) go to convince Henry to go home to Karen, there is a very noticeable screen-split line on the film that sections De Niro's face in half. This isn't the transfer's problem, per se; it looks more like something off the film print. The strange thing is I don't remember this streak being present on the old version. Maybe it's only a minor peeve, but still, this is the kind of thing you'd expect a studio to clean up for a special edition.

The English audio is the same old Dolby-Surround-masquerading-as-5.1 mix used in the old version. The package incorrectly lists Spanish as the alternate language; it's still French. Nothing more to say about that.

The disc menus are static, and they all have this generic-sounding jazz score playing over them. Remember all the jazz in "Goodfellas"? Yeah, me neither.

Of course, the real reason most people are running out to get this new set is to see the special features. This DVD includes 2 commentaries: one with various cast & crew members, the other with Henry Hill & ex-FBI agent Ed McDonald (who plays himself at the end of the movie). Of the 2 commentaries, the track with real-life players Hill and McDonald is infinitely more interesting, even though Hill mumbles more than Keith Richards having an acid flashback.
When I bought this set, I was looking forward to some feature-length Scorsese, Pesci, Liotta &/or Bracco commentary (I didn't dare to hope for Robert De Niro, I mean, be serious), with some funny stories or moviemaking info. Instead, what you get is a few new comments cobbled together with 10-15 year old sound bites from De Niro and Joe Pesci. Basically, the first 90 minutes of commentary is a total strokefest ("oh-this-guy-was-so-great", "oh-she-did-a-really-good-job") with only Scorsese, author Nick Pileggi, Liotta, and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus saving it. It picks up towards the end, though, when Lorraine Bracco (who shoots down the "screen-specific commentary" illusion when she talks about having watched the movie on the morning she's being interviewed) and editor Thelma Schoonmaker drop some funny thoughts.

As for the rest of the extras? There's really no need to have a second disc to contain them; the total running time of all the "documentaries", as Warner calls them ("featurettes", I call 'em), along with the theatrical trailer is less than an hour. Plenty of room for these on the first disc, but then I guess Warner felt they needed another selling point with the whole 2-disc thing. To summarize the 1/2-hour making-of documentary: "Martin Scorsese is a great director." Remember those 6 words and everything else is cream cheese.
The second major documentary, at around 13 minutes long, has interviews with some younger writer-directors who've found themselves influenced by "Goodfellas". Only 5 words to remember this time: "'Goodfellas' is a brilliant movie."
The other two featurettes are about 10 minutes altogether. One is a storyboard-to-screen comparison, the other is a little throwaway piece with some cast & crew anecdotes. 4 words will do this one just fine: "Warner Brothers is lazy."

It's really a shame that Warner Brothers couldn't wait just a tad longer and include some truly special features for one of the best movies their studio has ever produced. With the stellar jobs they've done on their other 2-disc reissues, like "Enter the Dragon", "The Right Stuff", "Singin' in the Rain" --jeez, even "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" has better features than this!!-- I expected Warner Bros. to really pull out all the stops for this new edition of "Goodfellas", but it's a big letdown. Still, it is an improvement (no matter how minor) over the previous release, and as it is probably the "best" version we're ever gonna get on DVD, I would have to recommend picking it up.

However, if you already own the movie, keep three things in mind. Ask yourself 1.) if you really mind flipping the old disc over, 2.) if you've got a normal full-screen TV, do you really need a new anamorphic transfer?, and 3.) do you really need to see the special features if they're not exactly top quality? If your answer to any of these things is "no", then I'd think long and hard about shelling out another $20.
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on January 26, 2007
Goodfellas has long been one of my favorite movies. I've watched it many times since I saw it in the theater. I've seen it on tape, on laserdisc, on the original "flipper" DVD and the remastered anamorphic DVD, and now, Blu-Ray Disc.

I'm happy to report that the Blu-Ray is a significant improvement over the remastered DVD. The picture is brighter, the colors are more vivid, and many scenes have much more detail and clarity. Of course, the overall picture is much sharper.

Goodfellas is not the kind of movie that is a showcase for high-resolution video, however. It has a lot of dark indoor scenes; very little takes place outdoors (something I never noticed before). I noticed some graininess, which has a lot to do with how Scorcese shot the picture. It's just more noticeable in the higher resolution.

There are some minor problems with the audio in one scene. The dialogue drops in volume and then jumps back up in the following scene. Other than that, the audio is fine, although I would have liked a more aggressive surround mix, at least in the musical selections. However, there's not much use of the surrounds here.

Also, at one point there's a vertical line halfway across the screen. Why this wasn't cleaned up is mystery to me; it lasts for about fifteen seconds. Admittedly this is a very minor problem, but with expensive new technology flaws of this kind stand out more than they would on tape or standard DVD.

If you're a fan of the movie and are considering upgrading to the Blu-Ray, I'd highly recommend it. It's not an eye-popping effects movie to begin with, so this disc isn't the first one to reach for if you want to show off your system. But it's probably the best way to watch the movie.
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Goodfellas is either the BEST movie ever made about organized crime, or the 2nd best. Some would say it is tied. (the other film being, of course, Godfather II) I have watched it at least once a year, EVERY year since it was first released on home video back in the VHS days. I love it and couldn't wait to see and hear this new 25th Anniversary 4K Scan.

With that said, this review will focus on the audio and video portions of the product as well as the packing and other extras included. The film comes packaged in a very nice hard/sturdy slipcover that holds both the 2 BD discs (in a very cheap eco case!) and the included booklet. The booklet itself is hard bound and extremely nice. Leaving Joe Pesci off the cover amounts to sacrilege, no question about it. I am at a loss to explain it. Bit rate for the transfer lingers in the low to mid 30's and I could see no visible compression issues of any kind.

I REALLY wanted this new disc to be perfect or close to perfect. And guess what? It ALMOST is......

Picture Quality has improved many times over from both the previous Blu Ray and HD-DVD versions and of course wipes the floor with any of the DVD releases.

The two main improvements are color rendering, both in grading/timing and overall saturation levels, and sharpness. MY only real complaint regarding color comes from one scene in particular when the saturation is just way WAY too high and causes both smearing and actual flaring and noise. This occurs right as Henry crosses the street to have it out with Karen's neighbor in his driveway. Everything is just plain NEON at that point. Thankfully it comes and goes and does not return but it took me out of the movie for a few moments. Everything else was very well balanced color wise.

Contrast/Brightness levels on the new transfer have been graded lower by the folks doing the actual remastering. Blacks are not really crushed, but certain low light scenes have a bit more trouble as a result. Also, the very start of the film has trouble rendering absolute black. I know this because I watch on a calibrated OLED which can and frequently DOES render perfect blacks, IF they exist on the master I am watching.

There are a just a few scenes where this occurs and the blacks are rendered more like dark grey with extra grain. Thankfully, this too only occurs in a few places, with the remaining film looking great with the contrast/brightness values supplied.

The only true explanation for this would have to be production related and no fault of this transfer. While the film itself is one of the very best, the original photography/film stock/lighting does not lend itself to a perfect demo worthy rendering. I think they achieved something very impressive here with this remaster, just don't go in expected perfection as you will not be getting it.

No signs of obvious digital manipulation here. No edge enhancement, no visible digital noise reduction , no static grain fields and FINALLY that pesky line that ran across previous editions, so noticeable in the scene where Henry Hill is told to go back to his wife, has now been mercifully removed from our sight forever! (Thank You!)

The picture quality has been given a MAJOR bump but how about the audio?

This time, we get an uncompressed DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that , while clearer and more well defined, is far from the major upgrade I saw with the video.
Many review site state this is sourced form the same 5.1 mix that lives on both eh previous Blu Ray and HD DVD versions. I disagree. THIS mix has a few flaws that drove me nuts. Starting about halfway thru the movie, the dialogue track suddenly decreased in volume from where it should have been , level wise. (when Henry Hill is in prison and getting his drug package from Karen)

From that moment one, almost ALL the dialogue (except for the narration which is mixed WAY too loud this time) is virtually drowned out by the music tracks and even the Foley tacks (sound effects) When footsteps, door creaks and other sounds drown out the dialogue, you know something is just not right. There is NO WAY that Goodfellas is supposed to sound like this. Nope! I can't understand how this passed quality control and made it into the final product. If you crank up your amp to make the dialogue intelligible, the narration will blow you out of your chair, not to mention the Foley and music. This was a mistake, there can be no doubt. I know it has been heavily hyped that Mr Scorsese himself approved this new transfer, but I doubt seriously he sat thru the entire thing or something might have been done about this before the product was released.

My home theater audio system is reference quality and calibrated so I assume I am hearing everything correctly as far as what is on the disc. I am very disappointed in the overall mix balance, especially from the prison scenes onward. Having watched and heard this film more than 30 times over the years, I do believe I know what the dialogue levels sounded like before, and these are not them! At times I had to strain to hear lines I had heard clearly for years and it became very annoying , very quickly.

Also, while we do get an uncompressed DTS HD Master Audio encoded 5.1 mix, the actual fidelity of much of the music is screechy and brittle sounding. Not all of it, but much of it. I own perhaps 85% of all the recordings used in the soundtrack and they ALL sound better to me than how they do sitting in the soundtrack here.

The extras included are plentiful and reside on another BD disc housed in the eco case. In addition to the previous extras that were available on earlier releases, this new release gives you a brand new HD documentary. You can check any commercial review site for a full list. Basically, you are given everything that existed before and more. Overall, a very nice package of extras that complements the film nicely.

Video: 8 Stars out of 10
Audio: 6 ½ out of 10

Bottom Line: If you enjoy Goodfellas as much as I do, then this new 25th Anniversary remaster is just the thing. Picture is greatly improved, extras are plentiful and other than my gripes about muted dialogue, it is a great and worthy upgrade.
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on December 14, 1999
After Godfather I and II, Goodfellas has to be the best "mob" movie out there. But I was disappointed in the DVD for one BIG reason. I had to flip the damn thing over halfway through the movie! I stayed away from laserdisc for this very reason. C'Mon Warner Brothers! There is no reaon that this couldn't have been created as a dual-layer DVD. I'd even spend a couple extra bucks for it.
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on August 20, 2004
GoodFellas is on top of my "best films of all time" list. I was one of the people who had bought the previous DVD edition, the infamous "two-sided, no features" release that had been one of the first generation of DVD releases, before the medium evolved into what it is today. I had been counting the days until they would re-release this film, so I was first in line to get this new edition.

Unfortunately, though this edition is much better than the previous one, it very much pales alongside most modern DVD packages.

The package aroused many suspicions in me that this was a rush job. Among my dissatisfactions:

- There's no booklet, leaflet, film histories, or printed material of any kind which generally supplements a two-disc release like this;

- The film is long, but still under the three-hour mark, and the second disc has three short (eight to 20 minutes), unremarkable documentaries plus a storyboard-film comparison. Wouldn't all this material have fit on a single disc? Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story had three times the media and was only a single disc. If they didn't have enough material, why did they put up the illusion that there are two discs' worth?

- There are only two commentaries, and one of them isn't even complete. The "Cop and Crook" commentary is interesting, applying the great idea of bringing back Henry Hill (on whose life this film and its source book Wiseguy were based) and the prosecutor who had sponsored his Witness Protection Program, Edward McDonald. It's not a very illuminating commentary, but it's still good to see what Hill is like today. However, the "Cast and Crew" commentary is suspect. Not only does it not cover the entire film, I actually suspect it was not recorded as a commentary, but edited from fragmentary interviews. So rarely do the cast and director on this track comment on the specific scenes, the way a commentary should, that I don't think they were watching the film as they were speaking; I think the production company simply mixed the sound louder and created the illusion that this was a commentary track. I don't know for sure if this is the case, but if it is, I consider it very dishonest marketing. Don't call it a commentary unless it is one!

- I found absolutely no new insights into Martin Scorsese or the film from the additional materials. The "making of" documentary is the usual "heap praise upon the director" baloney. Come on, do we actually *need* you to tell us that Scorsese is great? How about giving some anecdotes and insight into the film instead?

All of the above adds up to a very underwhelming DVD release of a film that's possibly the greatest American film of the last 20 years. However, there is still one incentive to own it -- the entire film is contained, without interruptions, on one disc. So unlike with the old DVD release, you can actually watch the whole film now without having to turn the disc over. So this is still the best available version of the film out there. However, I remain displeased. After years of waiting, and being disappointed, why does this edition fail to satisfy?

I can only hope that the impossible would happen -- that Warner Bros. would let The Criterion Collection take a stab at this film, and do it justice. It will never happen, but the very idea does whet the appetite.
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on February 16, 2010
Note: The two stars reflect the quality of this release, not the film itself, which would easily garner a full five stars.

Warners has done it again. This is the exact same disc that was released on Blu-ray before, only with the extra features piled onto a second disc and the whole thing repackaged in a pretty red book. I think there may be one or two new, but uninteresting features (I think they slapped on a couple of mob-themed Warners cartoons... a tacky move).

If you don't own GoodFellas on Blu already, get the earlier release, you'll be saving yourself about ten or fifteen bucks... or... you can wait and see if Warners finally does this masterpiece justice and releases it with a proper remastering. The video transfer on this release is pretty standard. It looks a little better than the DVD on a side-by-side comparison, but not much. The audio transfer is even less impressive. No matter how nice your sound system is, the whole thing sounds like it's coming out of TV speakers. Not very crisp, and not much separation. The whole presentation needs a good scrubbing.

This movie should be treated as a crown jewel of the Warners catalog, and so far it's been given the same treatment as any other catalog title. It's an Oscar winner for cryin' out loud! It's considered by many to rival The Godfather, which Paramount gave a very extensive and impressive Blu-ray release to a while back. The same double-dip release policy has been implemented before, and I'm sure it will be again. New Line (Warners-owned) is about to trot out Blu-rays for Lord of the Rings, but they will be the standard theatrical editions, not the expanded versions that fans will no doubt be expecting.

So, for now, save yourself some cash. Don't buy this thing twice, and if you still don't own it, stick with your DVD copy until Warners treats this classic with some respect.
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on March 12, 2000
A contemporary classic stylishly directed by Martin Scorsese, it's among his finest two plus hours (and that's really saying something coming from the man who brought us Taxi Driver & Raging Bull!). He once again teams with Robert DeNiro to bring this seering tale of New York City's organized crime syndicate in the late 70's to life. The supporting cast includes Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Joe Pesci (in the scene-stealing performance that won him the Oscar). Based on the novel Wiseguy by Nicolas Pillegi (who co-wrote the script) Goodfellas follows the life of Henry Hill, a connected guy who lives out his criminal fantasy of being a member of the mob and eventually decends into drugs, which leads to his ultimate demise. The use of the oldies pop/rock soundtrack has often been immitated but never duplicated (though Pulp Fiction would be a comperable comparison). Beware: fans of The Godfather may be distraught in seeing their ideallic vision of mob life torn down brick by brick. Let there be no mistake, this mob movie stands unrivaled (though it's getting a push from the HBO series The Sopranos). I urge fans of this movie to check out The King of Comedy (another DeNiro/Scorsese masterpiece).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 7, 2015
Last week I watched “Goodfellas” for perhaps the 40th time since its release in 1990. Needless to say, it ranks very high on my “Top 10” list of favorite movies, and places an extremely close second to “The Godfather” on my list of favorite mob movies.

When I watched “Goodfellas” last week, there was one major difference: for the first time ever, I watched the 25th Anniversary edition on Blu-ray. This is an all-new 4K restoration of the film, and the difference between it and all previous versions was so dramatic that it seemed like I was watching the movie for the very first time.

There’s not really much I can add to the plethora of reviews written about the quality of “Goodfellas” itself, so I won’t even try. Across the board, the rave reviews and high ratings for “Goodfellas” speak more eloquently about the sheer brilliance of this film than I ever could. The late, great Roger Ebert gave the film a rave review, calling it perhaps the best mob movie ever made.

It was immediately evident that Martin Scorsese and his production team spared no expense and cut no corners in remastering “Goodfellas” for this 25th Anniversary edition. I found the video detail simply astounding from the very first frame! I saw colors that are perfect, images that are sharp and detailed (but with no edge enhancement) and film grain that’s natural but unobtrusive. I didn’t see any banding, crushing, dirt, speckles, or other anomalies anywhere throughout the film’s runtime. This Blu-ray version uses a lossless DTS 5.1 Master Audio sound track that completely filled my viewing space with 5.1 surround audio that’s completely immersive and life-like.

The 25th Anniversary edition of “Goodfellas” is a two-disc “combo-pack” that contains the 4K restoration of the film on one Blu-ray disc, and nearly three hours’ worth of bonus features on the other. All of the special features that accompanied “Goodfellas” on prior Blu-ray versions have been retained; an all new feature-length documentary that includes interviews with Scorsese, Robert DiNiro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, and several others appears on the bonus features disc.

If you’ve never seen “Goodfellas” in true high definition/surround sound, or if you’re simply looking to upgrade to the 4K restored version, this 25th Anniversary edition is the one to get. Highly recommended.
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on June 17, 2015
Still one of the greatest.
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on May 21, 2006
Not that there's anything wrong with The Godfather. Although its director and cowriter, Francis Ford Coppola, has expressed his dismay with audience reactions to the movie. Particularly, audience admiration for Michael Corleone (Coppola went to a number of screenings where people actually applauded when the door was slammed shut on Michael's wife, Kay, toward the end of the movie).

But I'm not knocking The Godfather. Coppola did not in any way, shape, or form intend to glorify organized crime. It appears that Coppola's primary intention was to criticize corporate America by showing its similarities with organized crime. For example, the movie demonstrated how organized crime's business operations were quite similiar to those of the "legitimate" operations of corporate America.

At any rate, Goodfellas demonstrated how ugly organized crime could get. These "goodfellas" murdered just about everyone outside their organization that they could get their hands on, and when that wasn't enough, they turned on one another. And selling drugs wasn't enough for them; they got themselves addicted to the stuff as well.

By the end of Goodfellas, no one walked away better off then they were at the beginning (and a good many of them didn't walk away at all). Compared to The Godfather, Goodfellas was completely unambiguous in showing that organized crime is highly unrewarding in any number of ways.

Scorsese's last masterpiece to date.
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