In this masterpiece of a movie from one of the greatest auter directors of our times, goodfellas was one of the most captivating movies it has ever been my privilege to watch. Martin Scorsese directed brilliantly in one of his greatest works since raging bull. He got together a wonderful cast of actors who all portrayed very convincing roles. The movie stars Ray Liotta, and co-stars Loraine braco, Robert Deniro, and Joe pesci. All three co-stars won Oscar nominations, but it was joe pesci who actually won an Oscar for his disturbing portrayal of Tommy devito under world crime hood. The movie was also nominated for best film.
Now the reason why I choose goodfellas as my movie to write about was basically because I seen the movie about a thousand times and in my opinion the greatest film since the godfather movies (parts 1 and 2 of course). However, since I have taken your class, I have appreciated the movie so much more. The approach I took in writing this paper was not one of a very technical shot for shot analysis, but a basic annalization of the movie. I did however analyze important cuts and camera movements that were of significance and that best illustrate the style of Scorsese.
The movie begins with the opening credits. Even the credits have there own special unique quality about them as the stroll past the screen. We then cut to the back of a Cadillac. The camera then cuts to a medium close up of the star of the movie, Henry Hill, portrayed by Liotta. We then suddenly hear a sort of knocking coming from the back of the car. Henrys two passengers who are sitting in the back are also wondering what exactly the noise is. Henry pulls over the car. We then cut to the back of the car where all three passengers have exited the car and are now standing in front the trunk of the car. The lighting effects her is done beautifully in which the break lights let off an eerie kind of red lighting effect. Henry then pops the trunk to reveal a bloodied man inside. Pesci then proceeds to stab the individual numerous times and then Deniro proceeds to unload his gun into the victim. What a great opening scene. Now if you have yet to see the film this would throw the average moviegoer off quite a bit. The reason being is not even five minuet’s into the movie Scorsese has managed to shock the viewers with this violent scene. And as henry closes the trunk on the now dead victim, he sat one of the most memorable lines in the movie, “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”. We then hear a song beginning and we see a young henry hill staring out the window at the happenings in front of the neighborhood hangout for wise guys, the cab stand. We are now dating back about twenty years earlier and henry hill begins his narrative approach of explaining how it all began. We are then introduced to a new character named Paulie Siscero portrayed by Paul Sorvino. When they show Paulie, he is basically in control of the scene. The next few minutes of the movie show henry learning the ropes as he works for Paulie and Tuttie, Paulies brother. We now cut to the scene in which a young henry is making a sandwich when his father approaches henry with a letter. He then asks his son if he had a good day at school as henry answers yes. His father then proceeds to beat henry with a belt when all of a sudden the frame freezes on henrys father whipping him. As you see this freeze frame, henry is narrating the situation explaining how every man has to take a beating once in his life. With this freeze-frame signifies just one of the traits that scorsese does in his directing and editing. This type of freeze frame as well as the voice over narrative going on at the same time is a reoccurring trick that scorsese uses through out the movie, which works to perfection. The next few minuets of the movie show how henry and tuttie took car of all of paulies calls and henry explains what exactly paulies purpose was. He says that the are like a police force for wise guys, the offer protection for people who can’t run to cops.
We then get introduced to another significant character in the film, Jimmy “the gent” conway, portrayed by robert deniro. Henry goes on to explain how Jimmy was a legend by the age of 29, and haw everybody wanted to be near him. We then have another freeze frame only his time it involves Deniro and the shot is about a medium close up with the narrative by henry hill in the back round. Also before I forget to mention, the sound track of the movies plays out beautifully and captures the essence of every scene. After a hijacking scene, which involves Jimmy, we cut to henry selling cigarettes at a corner with his new partner Tommy. Henry then gets pinched and is awaiting arraignment. After the trial, jimmy congratulates henry on a job well done and gives him money. Henry is confused because he doesn’t understand why he is being praised for getting pinched. Jimmy then explains to a young henry why he is so proud of him. He says” you took your first pinch like a man and you learned the two greatest lessons in life; never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut. We then cut to henry and jimmy walking out the door and very one is outside to congratulate henry. There is then another freeze frame of Henry being embraced by his wise guy friends.
We are now at a scene where they are panning across an airport then to a truck driver exiting his truck. Then the camera pans upward and shows henry and tommy some 20 years later. As the truck driver walks in the dinner, henry and Tommy get in the truck and pull away. As this scene is taking place, henry is narrating as he discusses that idelwad airport was like there city bank. Any time they needed money they would rob the airport. We then go to the scene where henry is walking through the bamboo lounge. The camera is tracking through the restaurant as henry is telling the audience who everyone is. This is a nice track shot in the fact that it is pretty long and at the end of the track henry comes out from behind the camera. Scorsese used this trick to give the idea that henry was walking through the restaurant and the camera was his eyes. We then cut to probably the most memorable and famous scene in the movie. Tommy is working the room as he tells one of his stories, which has everybody around him in tears of laughter. Then the infamous how am I funny routine begins. He then proceeds to smack a bottle over the head of the owner who offends Pecsi. Then as henry walks he sees an associate walk in whom has a plan for a big caper. He then signals to tommy, then the camera zooms in on jimmy smoking a cigarette and he joins henry and his friend to discuss business. We then cut too sunny the owner pleading his case to Paulie and asks him to take a piece of the joint.
We then meet the love interest of henry in loraine brocco whom portrays karren, his Jewish date. She then begins to take over the narrative position in the movie. After a slow start henry and karren go on a another date. This scene begins with a close up shot of henrys crucifix, then pans up to his face. This was done to show emphasis on the fact that he is Italian, well half anyway, and his date is Jewish. We then cut to the scene where henry is handing the valet his keys and there camera follows the couple all the way from outside, through the kitchen, and finally sitting down while watching a performance from penny youngman. This scene which carried from the car to the comedian was completely uninterrupted. It was one of the longest uninterrupted scenes ever to be captured in a movie. Also when penny youngman is doing his routine, the scene cuts to tommy and henry walking through the airport, however, you still hear penny youngman talking although he is no longer in the scene. Henry and tommy walk out with some baggage containing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The air France caper according to henry made him. Basically by this time henry and karen fall in love. We then cut to moreys wig shop in which henry is asking morey for his money that he owes jimmy. Morey refuses to pat the rigorous vig that jimmy demands so morey being the ball breaker that he is winds up getting choked by jimmy until he agrees to give the money. During this time henry gets a phone call from karen who says shes in trouble. Henry then picks up karen who explains to him that her neighbor harassed her. So henry pulls up to her house and then looks in his rear view mirror which then focuses into the harassing neighbor. Henry then walks over and proceeds to bash his head in with the but of a gun. He then gives karen the gun and tells her to hide it. She then says to her self that it turned her on. We then cut to a glass being wrapped then stomped on, indicating the Jewish marriage of henry and karen. After the wedding we have a nicely done tracking shot of the entire table. After a scene with henry not returning home till the we hours of the morning, we now go to henrys bar where they are throwing a party for Billy bats, a made guy. After tommy walks in and greets jimmy and henry, batts begins his ballbreaking and tells tommy now go home and get youre *censored*ing shine box. This upsets tommy very much; so much he returns later that night and proceeds to beat batts while jimmy joins in and works on him. In this scene, you see jimmy with a medium close up and you could just tell the emotion that is going into those kicks. After they brutally beat batts they stick him in the trunk and drive to tommys mothers house where they sit down for some breakfast. .
The movie then returns to the opening sequence with henry driving and the kill batts. This was a touchy situation because batts was a made guy. That meant if you were made you were basically untouchable and you needed permission to whack a made guy. A few scenes later we find ourselves in paulies house. Paulie then asks henry what he knows about bats and henry tells him nothing.Afterwards jimmy tells henry they have to dig up the body due to construction in the area. Another funny scene where jimmy, tommy, and henry are digging up the six month old dead body of bats. Once again the brilliant red lighting in this scene is apparent as tommy is cracking jokes while henry pukes. We then cut to henry and the gang playing cards and for the majority of the scene deniro sits behind a cloud of smoke in a pretty dark lit bar. Tommy then proceeds to break the busboys balls and shoot him in the foot. Afterwards they go back to playing cards like nothing happened. We then cut to a scene where Karen is getting suspicious of henrys cheating ways. We then cut to henry yelling in joy while playing cards with the guys. The busboy now has a cast on his foot. After some more balls breaking by Tommy the bus boy tells Tommy to go *censored* himself. After Tommy feels embarrassed from the laughter, he shoots the busboy without a second thought.
Karen then goes to pay henrys mistress a visit which then leads karen to point a gun at henrys head. Jimmy then goes to Tampa with hennry to collect money from someone. When they got back the got pinched. The both received 10 years. The movie then goes on to show how prison life is for gangsters. At this time henry begins his drug dealing from inside prison, this also begin the downfall of henry hill. After henry serves a 4-year stint he is released. Henry then moves his family out of the dump they have be living in while henry was away. Paulie then has a conversation with henry and tells him to stay away from the drugs. We then cut to henrys new home where morey explains to him of a huge heist he had been masterminding. Jimmy then gets a crew together to pull off the biggest heist in United States history, the latanza heist. Henry continues his drug dealing and is snorting much coke, which further escalates his downfall. We then cut to henry in the shower where he hears on the radio that the heist has taken place. Then we cut to jimmy in the bar with a big smile on his face. The heist turned out to be a very lucrative one because they cleared about six million in cash. After the heist tommy pays the driver of the truck a visit and whacks him in a very graphic scene. Henrys worried because cops found the truck but jimmy and Tommy reassure him everything is going to be all right. The reason being was that Tommy was going to be made. The whole time this heist was being contemplated and executed, morey kept on breaking balls. We now see jimmy sitting at the bar as the camera slowly pans toward jimmy that once again is behind a cloud of smoke. As we witness this seen we could almost read deniros mind in the fact that he wants to whack morey, which eventually happens. Afterwards a brilliant scene with the song layla in the background begins; we slowly pan up a pink caddy with two dead in the car. Henry narrates as he explains that jimmy would rater whack the guys that helped him with the heist then give them any money. The scene continues with all men involved with the robbery being found dead.
Jimmy was happier then ever because this was going to be the day that Tommy was going to get made. Henry then explains just what a goodfella really means. Tommy pulls up to a fancy house with tutti and another guy by the name of vinny. (Vinny in actuality is really scorsess father, and Tommys mother in the movie is scorsess mother). As Tommy opens up the door he sees an empty room. At that moment he realizes his time is up and lets out an oh no and then gets whacked from behind. Jimmy then learns of the news and is very upset about it. Tommy got whacked because it was revenge for batts among other things.
Some time has past and we now see henry running around while being followed a helicopter. Henry really looks like *censored* and paranoia is setting in. Scorsese does a good job on making the audience feel the paranoia and stress that henry is felling. Henry rides around with Karen for a while where they end up a drug dealers place, his Pittsburgh connection, and Karens snorting up. Henry then calls home to set up the drug deal and specifically tells his babysitter not to talk on the phone, but she does anyway giving up henry operation. We then cut to a scene where henry is snorting up as the cameras quickly zooms into his face showing us just how messed up henry looks at this point.
After he takes care of his daily routine he goes back home and gets pinched. The aftermath of the situation was that henry was looking at hard time and feared for his life. The reason being was now all the wise guys were looking to whack him. After he is baled he goes and sees paulie so he can try and straighten everything out. Paulie gives him 3100 dollars and then turns his back to him. Karen then goes to see jimmy and jimmy gives her money. He then tries to trick Karen into going down the block where she would probably face eminent doom. We then go to the dinner scene in which henry walks in and the racking shot begin until he sits down. Henry now looks worse then ever. Once he sits down if you pay attention to the back round, you will see that scorsese uses the simultaneous zoom in track shot which almost emphasizes henrys paranoia. Jimmy then asks henry to do a job in Florida for him. Its at this point that henry knows he is going to be whacked. With the freeze frame picture of jimmy at hand. Henry goes on to explain that killers come with smiles, there your best friends.
Knowing its just a matter of time until he is whacked; henry goes into the witness protection program. Henry rats on everybody. In the final scenes of the movie, henry is talking to the prosecutor when he then begins to talk directly into the camera for the first time in the movie. The final scene of the movie has henry picking up his paper and explaining that he is and average nobody.
So to conclude this paper I must say I enjoyed writing this very much. This is with out a doubt my favorite movie. And on a final note I was just wondering if anybody else noticed this and if it is done for a reason. In three of scorsess films, he has Joe pesci and the character of batts that I believe is played by Frank Vincent going at it in every movie. First in raging bull pescis character beats up Vincents character, then in good fellas he whacks bats, but in casino batts has his revenge by whacking pesci. Just a little somethiung i thought i would bring to your attebtion.