Friday 27th* October: Goodfellas (18)

*Note change of screening date to help the Cramphorn’s scheduling (no longer Thur 26th)

USA  –  Crime Drama  –  Year: 1990  –  Running time: 146 mins
Languages: English/Italian

Audience response following the screening of this film:
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.67 from 14 responses)

  • ‘Excellent’: 9 votes
  • ‘Very Good’: 2 votes
  • ‘Good’: 1 vote
  • ‘Satisfactory’: 0 vote
  • ‘Poor’: 0 vote
  • + 2 comments without a rating

Read the comments here or visit our Goodfellas discussion page.


A young man grows up in the mob, working hard to advance himself through the ranks, enjoying his life of money and luxury but oblivious to the horror he causes. Drug addiction and mistakes ultimately unravel his climb to the top. More than 25 years after its release, here is a chance to see, on the big screen, one of the seminal gangster movies of all time and arguably Scorsese’s greatest work.

For its swaggering energy, the heart-in-your-throat pacing and for some of the most memorable, most imitated scenes in mafia movie history, this must rank as one of Scorsese’s finest films, if not the best.
Wendy Ide (The Observer)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Silence (2016) / The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) / The Departed (2006)
Robert De Niro                              …   James Conway
Ray Liotta                                      …   Henry Hill
Joe Pesci                                       …   Tommy DeVIto
Lorraine Bracco                             …   Karen Hill
Paul Sorvino                                  …   Paul Cicero
Frank Sivero                                  …   Frankie Carbone
Tony Darrow                                  …   Sonny Bunz
Mike Starr                                      …   Frenchy
(for full cast, and more information, see “Goodfellas” in IMDB)

CFC Film Notes                                    (click here for printed version)

A brash, menacing hightail through the death of the mobScorsese’s 1990 masterpiece zips along with relish, and his acting A-team – De Niro, Pesci, Liotta – are on top form as this brilliant comic nightmare unfolds

‘Being a gangster was better than being president of the United States!”  Is it less of a choice than ever?  The re-release of Martin Scorsese’s brash and brilliant mob masterpiece from 1990 – about the rise and fall of Irish-Italian criminal Henry Hill, from the 60s to the 80s – is a reminder of what his very best work looks like, and you can feel again the stunning impact of his A-team: Robert De Niro as Jimmy “The Gent” Conway and the Oscar-winning Joe Pesci as his psychopathic buddy Tommy DeVito, with Paul Sorvino as the malevolent and slow-moving capo Paulie Cicero and the director’s mother Catherine Scorsese superb in her cameo as Tommy’s artistically inclined mom.

Ray Liotta gives a thrillingly livewire and career-defining performance as the wide-eyed aspirational tough guy Henry himself, whose gorgeous gravelly voice gives this film its sensational voiceover, along with Lorraine Bracco, imperious and charismatic as Henry’s loyal, mistreated wife Karen, perhaps the one character who emerges from the story with something approaching dignity.

Since the movie’s original release, Bracco and Michael Imperioli (the hapless Spider) went on to star in HBO’s The Sopranos, which developed and amplified the movie’s theme that being a gangster isn’t as great as it used to be.  The real Henry Hill died of a heart attack in 2012; Jimmy Conway succumbed to lung cancer in prison in 1996; Paul Vario, the model for Paulie, had died in prison in 1988; and Thomas DeSimone, the model for Pesci’s unforgettably scary Tommy, vanished in 1979 and remains untraced for reasons that are obvious from the film.

Goodfellas barrels along with unstoppable storytelling relish, its jukebox slams of pop music repeatedly convulsing the movie with sugar-rush excitement amounting almost to hysteria.  It’s not a movie with a formal three-act structure, it just unloads radioactively horrible and fascinating anecdotes in irresistible succession, and you watch Liotta’s Henry gradually deteriorating as he becomes his own loyalest customer in the cocaine business.

Scorsese shows how the mob ethic of never ratting on your friends is nonsense, as Henry sells them out to the FBI to save himself, and Jimmy paranoically whacks his comrades to pre-empt precisely this destiny.  His strange and creepy offer of Dior dresses to Karen (as a possible ambush) is one of the film’s most brilliant, ambiguous moments.  All of the bonhomie and good times are a lie: mobsters are friendliest just before the hit, or the FBI sellout.  And the gangsters’ sentimentality, fear and dysfunction are never more excruciating than when poor Tommy is taken into a basement for what he believes is his “made guy” ceremony.  In a way, it is.

Watching Goodfellas again, what strikes me is the central question of its comedy, as Tommy famously asks: “Funny, how?”  Like Tommy in that famous scene, the gangsters are always menacingly joking, kidding around, messing with you and – to use a key phrase – breaking your balls.  Weirdly, the film it always reminds me of is Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose; veteran comic Henny Youngman puts in a cameo for Goodfellas with a routine that Danny would have recognised.  The very words goodfellas or wiseguys are steeped in duplicitous, aggressive comedy; no one rules a situation like a guy who’s just got a laugh at someone else’s expense.  Goodfellas is a compelling, black-comic nightmare.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, Thursday 19 January 2017

Selected UK reviews:

The Guardian (Peter Bradshaw)
Little White Lies (David Jenkins)
CineVue (John Bleasdate)



We always welcome audience comments on the films we have shown, please add your comments to the blog below:

Audience Feedback for ‘Goodfellas’

Audience Feedback for ‘Goodfellas’

There were 14 response slips returned after the showing of this film, the feedback we received from these slips were as follows: Rating: ‘Excellent’: 9 votes ‘Very Good’: 2 votes ‘Good’: 1 vote ‘Satisfactory’: 0 vote ‘Poor’: 0 vote + 2 comments without a rating … Continue reading