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The Rise and Fall of a Mobster
Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s best-selling book Wiseguy, GoodFellas recounts the story of true-life gangster Henry Hill, his associates, and his career as a member of New York’s Lucchese mob. Co-written and directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring electrifying performances from a standout cast, GoodFellas delivers on all levels.
- According to co-writer Nicholas Pileggi, a few real-life mobsters were hired as extras to make some scenes more authentic.
- Al Pacino turned down the role of Jimmy Conway because he was afraid of being typecast.
- Director Scorsese’s mother and father both played roles in the movie, she as Tommy’s mother and he as a prisoner.
- Even though GoodFellas was a scripted film, much of the dialogue was improvised by the actors.
- The real Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro called him several times a day to ask questions about Jimmy Conway’s mannerisms and behavior.
A Modern Classic
- On the American Film Institute’s list of 100 greatest movies of all time
- Called 'the best mob movie ever made' by critic Roger Ebert
- More than two hours of suspenseful drama and sharp wit
- Bonus material includes commentaries and documentaries by cast, crew and the real Henry Hill
- Available in DVD and Blu-ray formats
Meet the Cast
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta)
A young Irish-Italian from a poor working-class family in Brooklyn, Henry drops out of school to join the ranks of the Lucchese mob.
Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco)
The daughter of strict Jewish parents, Karen meets and then marries Henry. Theirs is a tumultuous union darkened by crime and love affairs.
Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci)
A member of the Lucchese mob, Tommy has an explosive temper and a psychotic need to prove himself through violence.
Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro)
Jimmy is a close associate of mob capo Paulie Cicero. But because Jimmy is Irish, he can never become a made man in the crime family.
Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci star in the gangster movie GoodFellas. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, a small time gangster who takes part in a robbery with Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy De Vito (Joe Pesci), 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? This Blu-ray edition of GoodFellas contains: three documentaries with the cast and crew, storyboard-to-screen comparisons, and the theatrical trailer.
Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece GoodFellas immortalizes the hilarious, horrifying life of actual gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), from his teen years on the streets of New York to his anonymous exile under the Witness Protection Program. The director's kinetic style is perfect for recounting Hill's ruthless rise to power in the 1950s as well as his drugged-out fall in the late 1970s; in fact, no one has ever rendered the mental dislocation of cocaine better than Scorsese. Scorsese uses period music perfectly, not just to summon a particular time but to set a precise mood. GoodFellas is at least as good as The Godfather without being in the least derivative of it. Joe Pesci's psycho improvisation of Mobster Tommy DeVito ignited Pesci as a star, Lorraine Bracco scores the performance of her life as the love of Hill's life, and every supporting role, from Paul Sorvino to Robert De Niro, is a miracle.See all Editorial Reviews
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But now comes the 25th anniversary edition of "GoodFellas", in which the movie has been given a 4K resolution from the original camera negative. The results? "GoodFellas" doesn't look great; it looks absolutely phenomenal! The image has a fine, naturally grain quality that gives the movie a documentary feel (which is appropriate since that was the filmmakers' intentions), there is greater detail in even the extreme long shots that weren't noticed in the previous versions (just watch Karen's wedding scene and the famous Copacabana long take in both this version and the 2007 one and the difference in quality is staggering), there are various shades of blackness and color that give the picture more depth (the burial and subsequent digging of Billy Batts, for example, looks even more detailed than before) and contrast, unbalanced in the previous version, is excellent. At long last, "GoodFellas" has come out in a presentation that would make the even stoic Paul Cicero crack a smile.
"GoodFellas" is a film that needs no explanation or even a sentence of exultation, but I'll do it anyway. It is a film that changed the way we look at gangster movies. "The Godfather", as brilliant of a film it is, was pure gangster mythology. "GoodFellas", however, went the opposite direction by depicting the life of organized crime as if it was real. These were people you could have met in the street; seemingly nice, likable people that just happen to be criminals.
Scorsese's dramatization of Henry Hill's life as a gangster shows us the seduction, the allure and ultimately the sickness and fatalistic consequences of living the life as a somebody in a world of nobodies. By revealing the skulls behind the smiles, Scorsese shows us the dark side of corruption under such facile smiles. Rarely has violence been portrayed less glamorously, with more moral effectiveness and absolute repulsion. Rather it's the brutal murder of an innocent waiter, the slaying of a made man in the trunk of a car, the strangulation of a whiny but harmless hair wig owner or the senseless murder of all involved in a heist out of fear of being caught, these are senseless killings by senseless people - the work of scared, inadequate men.
And yet, and what makes this film great, is that Scorsese makes us care for these characters. As demonic of a psychopath that Joe Pesci is, we are still shocked to see him gunned down. We sense Liotta's paranoia when he rightly feels that he is being chased around by a surveillance helicopter during his drug hubris. We feel De Niro and Sorvino's sense of betrayal when Liotta testifies in court. All this is a testament to the magnificent acting and Scorsese's flawless direction that shows us a group of human beings who become intoxicated in the glamour of gangsterism, only to be destroyed by it.
Gangster movies make us admire such vile people because they go against the norm of what society dictates, functioning like outlaws who rebel against authority and do things their own way. The triumph of Scorsese's "GoodFellas", and the horrific irony, is that as much as we don't want to admit, we want to live that lifestyle too. We want to go to airports and make off with a couple of hundred thousands of dollars without taking hostages. We want to park in front of fire hydrant and not get tickets. We want to hijack trucks and use them for personal goods. We want go to restaurants without having to wait on line. We want to beat people up and make them stop complaining. In short, we want to rule. Maybe that's why some people prefer "GoodFellas" over "The Godfather".
But is the life of a criminal worth taking? Scorsese clearly doesn't, but he shows us that criminality is a temptation for ordinary people. Lorraine Bracco's performance as the naive Karen is a perfect example of how anyone could be enticed into criminality. Karen doesn't understand the world she is getting herself into and only looks at the surface. It's only by the movie's third act when everything falls apart for her and her husband that she realizes the consequences of this deadly lifestyle.
Having watched "GoodFellas" hundreds of times, I continue to marvel at the film's superb direction, outstanding performances, rich visuals and themes, moral ambiguity and its seamless blend of horror, drama and black humor. It's a film that 25 years after its release in 1990 continues to affect me as much as it does to everyone in my generation. Most movies grow dated after numerous viewings; not "GoodFellas". Now on a spellbinding 25th anniversary Blu-Ray set that restores the film to its original form, the movie's power has been enriched. You don't know "GoodFellas" until you've watched this set. Get it now while you stand can.
If you are interested in mob or mafia movies, I don't think you'll find one more engaging and in-your-face as this one. Of course, movies like this can only be so truthful about the material and people they are covering but at no point did I find that scenes and situations in this movie were overblown or so highly fictionalized as to defy belief.
The fact that this movie covers a very limited portion of a mafia gang and neighborhood and that it is covered from the viewpoint of one person that experienced it makes it a very easy story to follow and doesn't give you an avalanche of characters you have trouble remembering from scene to scene. The narration provided by the main character also helps you stay in the story and also helps you see inside their mindset while various events are happening.
I believe that because this movie follows a person from the time they were a kid with an eventual wish to be like the mobsters that were in his neighborhood gives you the best insight as to why someone would want to live this kind of lifestyle and how they justify it morally. You live this person's story as if you were them.
The story begins with Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a young Irish living in the suburbs of New York with his family, and suddenly finds himself involved with the Italian Mafia, and after some work and be arrested for the first time, he is finally integrated into the mob-family. Years pass and the life of Henry is now on the mob-business, a little work there, a robbery there, always with their best friends and partners James (Robert De Niro) and Tommy (Joe Pesci).
As the story progresses, Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi (screenplay) explore the world mobster in an impressive way. It's almost watching a lesson in how to be a professional criminal. Always keeping a realistic pace, and that little black humor that always Scorsese uses in his films, achieving the film both interesting and pure entertainment.
The entire cast does an excellent job, Robert De Niro despite not appear much, manages to be great; Ray Liotta is also excellent, but who gives a fantastic performance throughout the film is undoubtedly Joe Pesci.
From beginning to end we see the Mafia as never before, while maintaining an impressive pace of entertainment, very well written and directed, "GoodFellas" is surely one of the best works of Scorsese to be remembered.