I know I’d go from rags to riches…Once the ambiguous opening scene fades and this song blares, I knew I was in for something unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
This is Goodfellas, the true-ish gangster tale from Martin Scorcese about the rise and fall of Henry Hill and his gang. The first time I watched it was the summer of 1991. I was 16. The Godfather, Scarface, and The Untouchables were all I really knew about American gangsters. This was something different. The allure of being somebody in a city full of nobodies was intoxicating. Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy were guys that I wanted to be around and longed to become. The tone of the movie is set early at the Bamboo Lounge where Tommy holds the room with his quick witted jokes and then suddenly am I hear to amuse you? The heaviness following the hilarity of the joke rises in intensity only to end with everyone laughing once again. This was both funny and scary, just like the characters.
Couple the dialogue with the brilliant cinematography and I was hooked. The epic Copa scene from the backdoor to the front of the stage, one perfect 3 minute steady shot, had never been done. This is a perfect marriage of story and film maker. They were likable monsters and I loved them all. Henry approaching this Bruce asshole and pistol whipping him into submission. Tommy and Billy Batts at the Suite Lounge, no more shines Billy. Jimmy drawing hard on a cigarette with a wry smile, staring at Morry hatching his intent at killing him. Amazing scene after amazing scene and I couldn’t turn away. Cocaine, guns, and paranoia. The construction of Henry’s final fall from grace to despicable rat…$3200 for a lifetime…Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut…I don’t know if I have ever quoted another movie as much as this masterpiece. It firmly resides in my top 5 favorite films of all time and ranks at the top of the pantheon of American gangster movies…
Now go home and get your fucking shine box.