Essay on Goodfellas

Topics: Goodfellas, Mafia, Gambino crime family Pages: 5 (1882 words) Published: May 9, 2012
A True American Crime Story – GoodFellas

When talking about a true American crime story, one can start and end the discussion with one of the most powerful and influential true stories ever told: GoodFellas. Based on the incredible true story, the film follows the rise and fall of Lucchese crime family associates Henry Hill and his friends throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 1980s. Originally written as the non-fiction novel “Wise Guys” by Nicholas Pileggi, the story takes you deep into the world of arguably the most notorious crime posse America has ever known: the Italian Mafia. It is viewed by scores of critics and moviegoers alike as one of the greatest crime/drama movies ever filmed – so needless to say, with such a profound repute, it only seems fitting that perhaps the most prominent director in the industry took command to make such a masterpiece. Martin Scorsese delivers perhaps his best movie ever, which really speaks volume considering all the accolades and admiration his other films have received.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” – what better way to start off a crime story than that? It was through this simple, compelling statement that begins the film, setting the nature and tenor for the rest to follow. Spoken by the main character Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), the film starts off following a young, adolescent Henry. Growing up in East New York, Brooklyn in 1955, Henry came up idolizing the local crime family gangsters of his blue-collar Italian-American neighborhood. Henry’s father realizes the susceptible juncture in his son’s adolescent life when he receives mail from Henry’s school that informs him Henry had not been in school for months, setting off beatings in attempt to steer him clear of the gangster lifestyle. But when the gangsters threaten the local postal worker with severe consequences about delivering letters from Henry’s school to his parents, the door into becoming the gangster he’s always wanted to be pans open and the rest is history. He quickly learns the fundamental ways of the gangster operations – stealing cars, selling alcohol and other drugs, etc – and he is able to make a living for himself. It is in the early stages of his gangster career where he learns the two most important lessons in life: “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Henry is eventually taken under the wing of New York mob capo “Paulie” Cicero and the rest of his associates and begins his elevated crime career alongside Jimmy “The Gent” Conway (played by Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (played by Joe Pesci) whom Henry develops strong relationships with. The three form a unique, sadistic sub-clique working for and under Paulie and his gang. The trio makes it big in 1967 when they commit the Air France Robbery, thrusting Henry (the mastermind) into the big-time. In stealing $500,000 cash, they give their respects to Paulie by giving him a cut of the goods – forever stamping themselves as Paulie’s “men.” Throughout the rest of the film, Henry deals with the different aspects of the Mafia’s routine, learning how to balance his family life with his gangster lifestyle, and protecting himself from the looming threats of rival gangsters and of course, the Feds. However, in the end, Henry finds himself in an unwanted and reprehensible situation that he is incapable of getting past, forcing him to give up his entire mob family and associates. With the situation at hand, Henry enrolls in the Witness Protection Program to protect himself and his family. He is forced out of his gangster life and now must endure the low disposition of living in the real world: “Now I’m an average nobody. I get to live my life like a schnook.”

As filled as it is with important scenes, there are still a few moments within the plot that are peripheral. With that said, there is one in particular that stands out and is especially distinctive to the...
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