Joe Pesci won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his part in GoodFellas, a film nominated for six Academy Awards overall including Best Picture. And every accolade attributed to this film is well deserved.
With an all-star cast of performers, GoodFellas is one of director Martin Scorsese’s greatest productions.
Based on the true story of former mobster Henry Hill, GoodFellas begins with his famous quote, “As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster…”
GoodFellas follows the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), an Irish-Italian American who becomes involved in organized crime at a young age. Quickly rising in stature as a small time gangster, Henry wins the heart of a local Jewish girl, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), despite her parents’ objections. Karen, though frightened, is fascinated by Henry’s life of crime.
He has many friends – rich friends, powerful friends. And nobody messes with him. When they get married, Karen is forced to adjust to the life of a typical mobster’s wife…
Meanwhile, Henry’s best friends (he and Karen only associate with those connected to the mob) in crime are Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) – two fellow wiseguys with their sights set on bigger and better jobs. When Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy pull together a team that executes the biggest heist in years, their reputations rise fast within the mob hierarchy.
But things begin to fall apart when the incompetent and undisciplined men with whom they worked start flaunting cash from the robbery. The three friends are forced to kill off several members of the team in order to avoid raising the suspicions of the police.
But eventually, Henry becomes arrogant and reckless, landing himself in jail. When he gets out, he’s careful in his business dealings due to the fact that local mob boss Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) has his eye on him. Paulie doesn’t want Henry to do anything stupid and land himself in jail again.
But in the end, Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy get more than they bargained for when Tommy kills an annoying barfly – unaware that the man he killed was a “made man”. Now, each man must figure out for himself which direction his life will take.
Raw and blunt in its pronouncements, GoodFellas easily holds its own with some of the greatest films of all time. Like any good story, it brings the audience into an unknown world of mystery and seduction. The audience begins to feel the tension along with the characters in the film. That’s the mark of a great movie…
Liotta, Pesci, and De Niro all stand out in this epic drama about one man’s life as a professional criminal. Through each man, the audience views the perks and the pitfalls of life in the mob as well as the perpetual feeling that one is always looking over his shoulder.
GoodFellas doesn’t glamorize life in the mob by any means, and those who enjoyed The Godfather will appreciate its contemporary slant on the drug trade to which Don Corleone so vigorously objected.
When taking an objective view, Good Fellas stacks up as one of the 100 greatest movies of all time, and it certainly merits the designation of must-see film.