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The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Revisiting the Mafia classic, Goodfellas

When discussing the greatest films ever made, Martin Scorsese’s mob classic Goodfellas is almost always mentioned. The 1990 film is a fantastic work of cinema, as it follows the rise and fall of Henry Hill, played by the late Ray Liotta. The star-studded cast along with Liotta includes Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino. Scorsese and Pesci were both nominated for Academy awards, with the latter taking home the “Best Supporting Actor” award. 

From the very first scene of the film Scorsese displays his directorial mastery, instantly captivating the audience with the insane lifestyle of the mafia. The young Henry Hill is swept by this way of life as he looks up to older mafia men as “godlike” figures and wants to be apart of the madness. Throughout the entire picture, the audience is very well aware that Hill is doing many illegal actions, but Liotta’s portrayal of the character makes the mob man extremely likable.  

Liotta, De Niro and Pesci spend most of the film together rising up the ranks of the “family” doing various crimes and murderous deeds. This movie is not just a three-hour film filled with blood, gore and action, however. There is a beautiful character study that delves deep into the screwed-up psyche of the protagonists.

Hill, Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito navigate the harsh mafia world, where there is constant betrayal and backstabbing. DeVito is most defiantly the biggest wildcard out of the trio, as his hotheaded nature certainly caused a lot of conflicts for the group. The true authentic nature of the storytelling is palpable, and the script seamlessly weaves humor, tension and tragedy flawlessly. 

One of the greatest moments of the film is how many legendary and quotable scenes there are in the picture. The Copacabana scene where Hill takes his date through the back of the restaurant cutting the hundreds of people in line, making him look like a king. Another all-time moment is the infamous “Funny how?” scene where Tommy playfully interrogates Henry asking if he thinks DeVito is a clown or does, he “amuse him?” 

As Goodfellas progresses the narrative certainly takes a darker turn, as the audience is now seeing the very severe consequences that come with being in the life of organized crime. The drug induced, sweat dripping drive that Henry takes trying to flee from the cops leaves jaws on the ground, as the audience watches the complete downfall of a man in real time. 

The film ends with a blinding reality check from Scorsese, that leaves the audience with the understanding that while this lifestyle may seem fun, the horrible actions one may commit will always come back to bite them. 30 years after its initial release, this film truly stands the test of time, influencing a whole generation of filmmakers and setting a new standard for crime and mafia thrillers. If there is one movie I could suggest to someone, Goodfellas is most definitely at the top of the list. 

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Connor Coppola, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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