The directory «Plots»
Goodfellas is a 1990 crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, the true story of Henry Hill. The film follows the rise and fall of three gangsters, spanning three decades.
Scorsese originally intended to direct Goodfellas before The Last Temptation of Christ, but when funds materialized to make Last Temptation, he postponed what was then known as Wise Guy. The title of Pileggi's book had already been used for a TV series and for Brian De Palma's 1986 comedy Wise Guys, so Pileggi and Scorsese changed the name of their film to Goodfellas.
To prepare for their roles in the film, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta talked often with Pileggi, who shared with the actors research material that had been left over from writing the book. According to Joe Pesci, improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals where Scorsese gave the actors freedom to do whatever they wanted. The director made transcripts of these sessions, took the lines that the actors came up with that he liked best, and put them into a revised script the cast worked from during principal photography.
Goodfellas performed well at the box office, grossing USD $46.8 million domestically, well above its $25 million budget; it received mostly strong positive reviews from critics. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards but only won one for Joe Pesci in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. Scorsese's film won three awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and was named best film of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics.
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) admits, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster," idolizing the Lucchese crime family gangsters in his blue-collar, predominantly Italian neighborhood in East New York, Brooklyn in 1955. Feeling the connection of being a part of something, Henry quits school and goes to work for them. His father, knowing the true nature of the Mafia, tries to stop Henry (by beating him after learning of his truancy), but the gangsters warn the local postal carrier never to deliver any more letters from school to Henry's house.
Henry is taken under the wing of the local mob captain, Paul "Paulie" Cicero (Paul Sorvino) (based on the actual Lucchese mobster Paul Vario) and Cicero's close Irish associate Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) (based on Jimmy Burke) who help to cultivate Henry's criminal career through different phases. Henry is also introduced to the entire network of the crime syndicate run by Paulie.
Henry and his friends soon become successful, daring and dangerous. Conway loves hijacking trucks, and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci in his acclaimed Academy Award-winning performance based on Thomas DeSimone) is an aggressive psychopath with a hair-trigger temper. Henry commits the Air France Robbery and it makes his début. The friends hang out at the Copacabana night club enjoying the fabulous time they've been given behind their criminal activities. At one point, Henry meets and soon marries a no-nonsense Jewish girl from the Five Towns named Karen. Karen is both troubled and turned on by Henry's criminal activities.
The story shifts on June 11, 1970, Tommy, with Jimmy's help, brutally beats Billy Batts (Frank Vincent), a prominent mobster of the Gambino crime family in Henry's restaurant for an insult Batts made about Tommy when he used to be a shoeshine boy. Thinking that he's dead and realizing that this is an offense that can get all of them killed (Billy was a made man; he is untouchable by those who are not made), they take the body upstate and find Batts still alive in the trunk of Henry's car. Tommy angrily takes a knife he had borrowed from his mother's place and violently stabs him a few times and Jimmy finishes Batts off by shooting him. About six months after the incident, Henry and his friends return to exhume and move the body, out of fear that it would become discovered during imminent land development at the burial spot. One night, Tommy tries to provoke a young servant named Michael "Spider" Gianco (played by at-the-time unknown, Michael Imperioli). Tommy takes out his pistol and gratuitously shoots Spider in the foot. Another night, as Spider was recovering from his wound, Tommy provokes him again and Spider surpisingly stands up to Tommy, who instantly shoots him to death (after being heckled by Jimmy, who furiously claims that he was only joking). Henry also starts seeing a mistress named Janice Rossi (Gina Mastrogiacomo). When Karen finds out that Henry has been cheating on her, she goes mad and wakes him up at their bed threatening him with one of his guns pointed at his face while sitting on top of him. She angrily asks him whether he loves Rossi. A shocked yet confident Henry repeatedly tells Karen that he only loves his wife, until Karen breaks into tears and Henry violently subdues her onto the carpet floor. He in turn threatens her with the gun, saying that he already has enough problems to worry about, such as the possibility of being killed on the streets.
Henry and Jimmy are sent to get money from an indebted Florida gambler in Tampa, hanging him in the lion's den at a public zoo, to intimidate him further, after a beating doesn't sway the man. Henry, Jimmy, the gambler and most of the crew (except for Tommy) are then arrested, thanks to the gambler's sister, who is a typist for the FBI. However, prison for the mobsters proves to be not that different than having their own small house with free food and drinks as opposed to normal cells. Henry makes drug deals in prison to support his family on the outside, and when he gets out, the crew commits the infamous Lufthansa Heist at JFK airport. However, even after the successful heist, things begin to shake up. The robbers buy lavish gifts for their girlfriends, wives and families from their share of the stolen money, flaunting them in public, and so Jimmy orders anyone involved in the heist to be killed one by one, out of fear of being traced -- with the exception of Henry and Tommy. Henry further establishes himself in the drug trade after seeing its amazing value, even convincing Tommy and Jimmy to join him. Meanwhile, Tommy is deceived into thinking that he's going to be "made" or become a prominent member of the Mafia. He is instead righteously executed by the Gambino crime family for Billy Batts' murder. Henry and Jimmy can't become "made men", because of Henry's half, and Jimmy's full, Irish heritage.
On Sunday, May 11, 1980, Henry needs to make a big criminal deal with associates in Atlanta, and needs help. He drives nearly all over town, getting his brother from the hospital, and cooking food for the family, all the while being a nervous wreck from lack of sleep and the amount of cocaine he has taken. Henry is finally caught by narc agents and is sent to jail. When he returns home, he learns from Karen that she has flushed sixty-thousand dollars worth of cocaine down the toilet to prevent the agents that raided their home from finding it. Henry and his family are left virtually penniless. Henry soon is excluded by Paulie for lying to him about his involvement in the drug trade, and becomes a mole for the FBI while in the Witness Protection Program to protect himself and his family. Henry's motivation in turning state's evidence happens with he learns that Paulie and Jimmy had set a trap for him in Florida. Although he is clearly thankful for escaping the mafia alive, he says that he will miss the life of organized crime, and laments the fact that he's now going to have to live a law-abiding life.
Title cards shown before the closing credits state that Henry returned to narcotics dealing but cleaned himself up, Paul Cicero died in 1988 in prison, and Jimmy Conway (at the time of the film's release) is serving 20 years-to-life in a New York State prison and will not be eligible for parole until 2004 (although he died in 1996 of stomach cancer).
© 2003-2019 Dmitry Karasyuk. Idea, preparation, drawing up