Crucially, the film – which is seen from the perspective of Henry Hill (brilliantly played by Ray Liotta) – explores the attraction of organised crime. As a child back in Brooklyn in the fifties, Henry parked cars for the flashy mobsters and admired them far more than the ‘straight’ guys who worked 9 to 5. “Being a gangster was better than being President of the United States”, he says. But of course it can’t last, not with drugs and violence leading to more violence, and not with wise guys like De Niro’s Jimmy and Joe Pesci’s volatile Tommy.
“What people don’t understand is that a gangster’s job is not to go around killing people. A gangster’s job is to make money.” Scorsese used these words to explain his decision to return to the world of Mean Streets with this nightmarish film version of Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy, a book of factual reportage.
With its typically Scorsesian energy, its jet black humour, its colourful characters and its at times startling violence, Goodfellas is the Citizen Kane of gangster movies.
Presented in association with the Sydney Film Festival and National Film and Sound Archive
2 Jun - 11 Jun
Considered to be one of Scorsese’s finest – and most disturbing – films, Goodfellas sets out to explain the attraction mobsters held for impressionable young men in the 1950s. The mobsters ruled the roost, splashed the cash, controlled the cops and provided glamorous role models. Inevitably, though, this world of corruption, drugs and crime will collapse in an orgy of violence and destruction.