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A movie directed by Martin Scorsese

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An ultimate in gangster cinema.

  • Aug 30, 2011
**** out of ****

Gangster films - or Mob films, whatever you prefer to call the genre - are very special to me. Some of my personal favorite films have themes and tones of crime thrillers, and with good reason. I have always enjoyed the style of the films, and among other things, the way the characters talk. Within Gangster cinema you will find some of the freshest, cleverest dialogue ever written for the screen. A lot of these famous films are indeed based on novels, but what's a filmmaker to do? It's still their story; and it's still their - and the screenwriter, if it's not the director writing (adapting) the material - movie.

Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" is all that you could want out of the director; a two-and-a-half-hour film based on pure filmmaking. It's one and only desire is to entertain through dialogue, performances, storytelling, and Scorsese's skillful direction. He takes his Mob story to some interesting places and for that I am glad; he has made one of the best Gangster/Mob films of all time. Actually, that's not doing the film enough justice; nor is it giving it enough respect. This is one of the best films ever made, and anyone who cherishes cinema as an art form that sometimes goes on-and-off when it comes to the indulgence that is entertainment should love it just as much as I did. It's not overly complicated, and it has impacted cinematic culture so much that I just have to give it what it deserves; a decent review.

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) began his teenage years as an aspiring assistant to the local gangsters in his area. First he observed, then he served, and finally, he joined them in their violent, risky exploits. The crime family that lived in the parts that he was from was known as the Lucchese crime family, and before too long; Henry was a part of it. He had it easy; he was an Italian-American just like most of the other members of that specific crime family. He was an easy pick, but he also had the determination that was very much necessary. And so begins his new life.

The Lucchese family consists of the following fellas: Paulie (Paul Sorvino), Jimmy (Robert De Niro), and the aggressive Tommy (Joe Pesci). Henry bonded with each of the three, and dozens of other fine Italinan-American gents, in his own ways. He grew up and continued to run this life into the ground; and eventually, he even found love. He found himself attracted to a woman named Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco), who he would soon marry. This gave Henry a whole other life; the kind that is meant to depict the more sympathetic side of the Mob.

The film is a broad epic, depicting the rise and fall of the Lucchese family. We witness both the accumulated downfall of the family, as well as the personal surrender of Henry. It's a story with undertones of deception, infidelity, money, drugs, and of course, mob violence. It's a mobster movie done just the way I like 'em; cool, stylish, and with memorable characters to boot.

I find it nigh impossible NOT to like this film. I mean, everyone likes a film that's FUN to watch, right? So why, oh why, would one complain? Martin Scorsese has made some seriously entertaining films from "Mean Street" onwards. Not all of his films are as good as say, "Taxi Driver", but he is a master filmmaker and he is forever out to prove it. I respect him as well as admire him, which is good, because respect can only go so far.

With such a huge, talented cast full of well-known faces, "Goodfellas" already has some solid ambition going for it. But...Scorsese, knowing him, has never been a man of ambition. He's made some more epics after this one, sure, but he crafts them in such a simplistic yet amazingly flawless way that ambition is taken out of the equation. So if ambition matters not, then what does? I suppose the film's other targets do. It is intended as a brutal and perhaps even comedic depiction of mob life. I'm a critic, not a mobster; so I wouldn't know what this lifestyle is really like. But from what I hear, "Goodfellas" is pretty darned accurate. And it would have to be, given how great it is known to be. Based on true events it is; distracted by historical accuracy it isn't.

This is easily one of the best films ever made. It is great cinema, and it is high - very high - art. I encourage everyone reading to stop whatever they're doing and see it as soon as they possibly can, because I have finally seen it, and I went absolutely crazy for it; as should most people who look upon its greatness. It is drenched in style, sports an appealing soundtrack, and packs a violent and bloody punch at times. There are so many things that I liked about it, and next to "The Godfather" - the first film that most people would think of when they hear "gangster film" - it may be one of the best, if not the best for its genre. This film has it made.

(Oh, and a last-minute note for some readers: the creator of the HBO program "The Sopranos", David Chase, sites "Goodfellas" as a big influence on his show, which is currently my favorite television program, and yes, of all time. Many of the actors that appeared in cameos, as well as one major role, appeared in the show.)

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More Goodfellas reviews
review by . April 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) is a young boy growing up in a rough neighborhood full of trouble. Instead of doing normal things like the rest of the kids his age, he decides he will quit going to school and be a gangster. Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) immediately befriend Henry, and the three of them start to become good friends. They quickly begin to climb the ladder in the mob world, but they could be going too far with their work. Having to go behind the back of their …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Martin Scorcese has proved his worth as a director for the last 20 years. With his mafia epics, such as goodfellas and casino, later followed by the departed and gangs of new york, he has shocked the world with his gritty realism and intricate plotlines. Ray Liotta in Goodfellas is the average guy-turned mafia man, and plays the part of the half-irish italian who breaks into the business through a cab stand and pizza shop. The idea that his movie is based on a novel changes the layout, but also …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   looove this movie. can play it  again and again. love that it is based on true events of course. its hard to make a true story entertaining and with a semi happy ending. but of course martin Scorsese never fails at making good movies.  ray liotta's character Hill wants to be a gangsta since he was a kid. admiring the power that those men had while his father is trying to keep him from heading in that direction. well his father can't do much after he becomes aware that …
Quick Tip by . July 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Phenominal mobster movie based on real life gangster Henry Hill's mafia experiences. Borrows practically nothing from The Godfather movies and creates it's own memorable legacy. A classic in everyway. I often find myself watching it twice in a row.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Be prepared for the violence. Otherwise, it is one of the best black comedies out there.
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What can I say about this film other than it is my favorite film of all-time. Liotta, Pesci and DeNiro are excellent together. A lot of the supporting cast ended up in The Sopranos. Based on Henry Hill's story Wise Guy.
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Second to The Godfather of great gangster films. One of the Greatest films ever and is not even Martin Scorsese's best film
Quick Tip by . August 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Another Scorsese Classic, you can't go wrong with the cast, a nigh on perfect film.
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
Great Gangster flick... loved joe pesci in this... he was great..I highly recommend this movie
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Watched this again recently for umpteenth time. Still great. Where's Ray Liota these days?
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Goodfellas is a crime drama released on September 19, 1990 and produced by Warner Bros.  The film was directed by Martin Scorseseand was written by Nicholas Pileggi and MartinScorscese. Goodfellas wasproduced by Iron Winkler, and starred Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pessci, LorreainBracco and Paul Sarvino

Goodfellas is about a man named Henry Hill who together with hisfriends, work their way up to through the mob hiearchy..  After its release the film received 18 nominations, and celebrated 32 wins and one Academy Award in 1991 for Best Actorin a Supporting Role.

On its opening day, the film grossed $6.3 million by the end of the weekend.

The film was shot in New York in 1989.  Itwas given an MPAA rating of R and runs 146 minutes.

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Director: Martin Scorsese
Release Date: 9/19/1990
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Martin Scorsese
Runtime: 146 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
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