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What to Watch: “Goodfellas” shows the brutality of Americas most feared gang
With Warner Brothers having their 90th anniversary, “Goodfellas” continues to be one of those best films that the WB produced (Courtesy of

One of the most fascinating aspect of the United States is its crime. From squabbling small-town gangs to to the brutality of the Bloods and Crips and the all-powerful Italian Mafia. “Goodfellas” is one of the greatest, if not the greatest film, to ever be made that centers on the strength, power and downfall of the most feared gang in American History.

Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, the film narrates the real-life Lucchese crime family in New York and the life of Henry Hill during his association with the family from 1955 to 1980.

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) grew up in an Irish-Italian neighborhood in East New York, and had always dreamt of being a gangster. At thirteen, Henry quit school and began working for mob capo, or lieutenant, Paul “Paulie” Cicero (Paul Sorvino).

He had begun to work as a drug-runner and a courier for the family, finally living his dream. Before long he met Jimmy “Jimmy The Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The three quickly become close friends.

Jimmy was known for his love of hijacking things. Cars,trucks and even planes. If it moved, he would jack it. And he loved it. Tommy was possibly the most violent person in the family. Hot-headed and loud, Tommy had no qualms about killing someone. He, in fact, loved to kill.

Together, the three would run various jobs for the family, steal many vehicles, kill many people, steal millions of dollars and further spread the power, and fear, of the Lucchese family.

In late 1967, the three successfully pull off the Air France Heist, which garnered them $420,000. They enjoy the vast amounts of money by spending many of their nights at local clubs, bars and restaurants.

With Warner Brothers having their 90th anniversary, "Goodfellas" continues to be one of those best films that the WB produced (Courtesy of
With Warner Brothers having their 90th anniversary, “Goodfellas” continues to be one of those best films that the WB produced (Courtesy of

It is not long until Henry meets the woman of his dreams, Karen (Lorraine Bracco). The two soon marry and begin to live a normal life. On June 11,1970, Tommy and Jimmy brutally beat, and kill, William “Billy” Batts (Frank Vincent) of the Gambino crime family.

The fight began when Billy called Tommy “spitshine” which is a name he was called when he was kid shining shoes. It is of common knowledge that no one is to make fun of a hirer up in the Mafia, but Billy wanted to get a rise out of Tommy.

Billy met his death at the most inconspicuous object ever: a pen. As with most murders, the body had to be buried. The three drive north into New York’s forest to rid of Billy’s bloodied corpse.

Almost six months pass when Henry is told that the Gambino family will be having a burial for Billy. To avoid an all out war between to the two families, the body must be returned.

Jimmy, Henry and Tommy drive back up north to exhume Billy’s rotting body. This scene is not for the faint of heart.

All seems well in Henry’s life. He is married to Karen, has two young daughters, lives in a nice house in an upper class neighborhood, he is making more than enough money and loves what he does for a living.

But all of this becomes a dream in the blink of an eye. It is revealed that Henry has been having an affair with a woman named Janice Rossi (Gina Mastrogiacomo).

Karen learns of her husband’s affair from her friends and drives up to Janice’s apartment where Henry and Janice currently are.

She storms into the apartment brandishing a snub nose .38 revolver that Henry gave her for self defense. Henry is enraged and throws karen out as he is planning to stay with Janice. However, Paulie directs Henry to do a job for him and get back with Karen.

Henry and Jimmy are sent down to Florida, where they are to get money from and indebted gambler who has not paid his debts to the family and fled to Florida.

There, Henry and Jimmy violently beat “Frenchy” (Mike Starr) and threaten to feed him to the lions at the Miami Zoo. However, Jimmy and Henry are approached by hired thugs of Frenchy and are brought to his sister, Sandy (Debi Mazar) who is a typist for the FBI.

The two are arrested and each given 10 year sentences. Henry supports his family by selling drugs in, and out, of prison.

Henry and Jimmy are released from prison in 1978, after serving only four years of their terms. Henry continues to sell drugs, much to Paulie’s disappointment, but he manages to get Tommy and Jimmy to join him.

In early 1979, Henry, Jimmy and Tommy commit the Lufthansa Heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport, netting them six million dollars. With the money, many of the family end up spending it on lavish homes, a pink Cadillac and a mink coat.

Jimmy had told them not to buy such items as it would peak the interest of unwanted attention. In an effort to avoid said attention, Jimmy has numerous people murdered for not following instructions. The bodies are discovered in cars, garbage trucks and on hooks in meat trucks. The Lucchese crime family begins to crumble.

Tommy meets his end when he fooled into believing he is going to be made. Being made is becoming a full-fledged member of the Mafia. In order to be made you must serve the Mafia for 10 years and be off full Italian, or Sicilian, descent. Henry and Jimmy could not be made as they were both part Irish.

Tommy’s death came as a shock to Henry and Jimmy, but it made sense. He was responsible for numerous murders and police investigations, not to mention the murder of Billy Batts.

With Tommy dead, Jimmy under investigation and most of the family behind bars, Henry started to use cocaine heavily, suffered from insomnia and became insanely paranoid.It was apparent his end was near.

On May 11, 1980, henry is arrested for narcotics use and is jailed. Upon returning home, Karen tells him that she flushed $60,000 worth of cocaine so that the FBI could not arrest her. Her actions leave their family penniless.

Distraught and broke, Henry asks Paulie for money. Angered by his actions, Paulie advises that he leave the Mafia and go into the Witness Protection Program. Paule tells him that Jimmy has been ordered to kill Henry. Paulie gives Henry $3,200 and Henry leaves.

After being forced out of the Mafia and now fearing for his life, Henry joins the Witness Protection Program. Living under a new name and residing somewhere in Louisiana, the ending scene shows Henry getting the newspaper off his doorstep with his final lines of narration.

“I am an average nobody. I get to live my life like a schnook.”

All in all, “Goodfellas” is a fantastic film that shows, in brutal detail, the life within America’s most feared, and most powerful gang that had ever walked the streets.

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