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August 19, 2010

814. Goodfellas
Directed by Martin Scorsese
USA, 1990
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
Umpteenth viewing


Biopic of gangster Henry Hill, charting his life within the mob over two decades.

Essential Scene:

Henry (Ray Liotta) and Tommy (Joe Pesci) are at a nightclub, surrounded by other mob members and hangers-on. Tommy tells a funny story. Everyone is in good spirits and Tommy’s story ends in a big laugh. Still smiling sincerely, Henry comments; “You’re funny. That’s really funny.”

Tommy, with a fading smile, asks how he’s funny. The atmosphere turns serious as Tommy presses Henry on his comment, and Henry becomes worried by Tommy’s sudden change of mood.

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

“I make you laugh? I’m here to fucking amuse you?”

Henry correctly gauges Tommy’s mood as he tries to reveal Tommy’s attitude as a joke, and when Tommy gives in, they all laugh at the gag.

This may have been a joke at Henry’s expense, but it’s also Scorcese’s way of letting the viewer know how quickly relationships can change within the mob. As Henry later narrates:

“See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends.”


Goodfellas is arguably the best mobster film. It not only gives you a view into the mob world but, due to the narration and later breaking of the fourth wall, the viewer’s paranoia grows with Henry’s. The soundtrack is rather cracking too!

Fascinating Fact:

The title sequence was designed by Saul Bass, who also created the title sequence for (among others) Psycho.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 3:47 pm

    This is a brilliant film (obviously!) but it really loses its heart half way through when the Joe Pesci character is killed off. He is the real centre of this movie for me.

    Martin Scorcese’s mother has a small part in this film, dishing out pasta for the mobsters if I remember correctly…

    The last good Scorcese film in my opinion.

  2. Rachel permalink
    August 19, 2010 8:14 pm

    I know what you mean, he’s such a big character that it seems like things go a little quiet!

    I believe Scorcese’s father has a part too – as the gangster in prison who put too much onions in the sauce!
    Scorcese’s mother was wonderful, her line delivery when she tells a story is hilarious.

  3. Jim Lawrence permalink
    August 21, 2010 3:26 pm

    This film is textbook Scorsese – dissection of masculine codes of honour and hypocrisy of power, the ironic relationship of the criminal to society, disturbing portrayals of cold psychopathic behaviour, the way he uses music to create energy and sentimentality (another irony) and comedy: the scene where Henry tries to cook the family meal while the DEA helicopter hovers over the house is very funny. And the final irony: Henry is forced to become what he despises, another suburban schmuck living the dull life.

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