When I started making the list of movies that I could watch during the DailyView, one of the first films that I placed on the brainstorming list was Goodfellas. I have never been a huge fan of gangster movies, but a few of them transcended the genre. From all intent and purpose, Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese, was one of those, and it felt as if it were a hole in my movie knowledge.
Based on a true story written in the book, Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, Goodfellas is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. It detailed the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his involvement in the mob from his early days as an impressionable teen until he turned evidence against the others. Paul Sorvino played Paulie Cicero, one of the big bosses that helped Henry get into the mob. Robert DeNiro played Jimmy Conway, one of the wise guys in the mob and Joe Pesci played Tommy DeVito, another juvenile brought into the mob. The film highlights these main four characters as they made their lives through the violence, greed and odd comradery of life inside the mob.
Joe Pesci was particularly haunting as Tommy, the hard headed and quick tempered one who was consistently doing things that needed to be cleaned up. Yet, he never saw anything he did as out of line. He was clearly a sociopath and Pesci played him brilliantly, earning himself an Oscar for the role. I know as I was watching, there was no character that I wanted to get his comeuppance more than Tommy DeVito.
Goodfellas presents a look inside the mob and the strange code of honor that seems to color everything that they do. The way everything is business and handled with a lack of emotion, when someone enters the scene with emotion, such as Tommy, you can see how it upsets the apple cart. Even then, there is a bond of friendship, however uneasy it may be. Henry, Tommy and Jimmy were always together and were clearly close, but with every incident, you could see a sliver of doubt in the eyes of each of them. They were friends and they trusted each other, but only to a certain extent.
Ray Liotta served as the voice over narrator, revealing the story and the internal monologue going on with him. The voice over was not over done and was an effective way of presenting the story information.
It is a story of family and how ambition can darken even the best of situations. It pulls back the curtain of a lifestyle that is both romanticized and darkly cruel. There are great performances throughout and every scene is expertly shot. This is quite possibly Martin Scorsese’s best film ever. I am still not the biggest gangster movie fan, but this one is right near the top of the list for me.