4.9/10
182
6 user 3 critic

Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982)

Joe Pesci is a small man looking for a big break. Owner of a bowling alley and nightclub in Jersey, Ruby Dennis (Pesci) sets his sites on making it big in Vegas. But Ruby finds more than he... See full summary »

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Neighborhood kid goes to work for the Mafia as a debt collector.

Director: Ralph De Vito
Stars: Joe Cortese, Lou Criscuolo, Joe Pesci
Tutti dentro (1984)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

The incorruptible judge Annibale Salvemini, starts investigating over a classic Italian business/politics/corruption affair. He start to operate, as usual, very strongly. He orders ... See full summary »

Director: Alberto Sordi
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Joe Pesci, Dalila Di Lazzaro
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Traces the legendary author's life, from the images and memories of his early boyhood, to his tragic suicide at the age of sixty-two. We first meet Hemingway as a young boy dominated by the... See full summary »

Director: José María Sánchez
Stars: Victor Garber, Rom Anderson, Miguel Arribas
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A true story about Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Gordon's Valium addiction and her desperate attempts to kick the habit.

Director: Jack Hofsiss
Stars: Jill Clayburgh, Nicol Williamson, Dianne Wiest
The Super (1991)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Karma comes into play when a wealthy wisecracking landlord is ordered by a court to live in the filthy building that he runs.

Director: Rod Daniel
Stars: Joe Pesci, Vincent Gardenia, Madolyn Smith Osborne
Half Nelson (TV Movie 1985)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Rocky Nelson is a New York cop, who after making a major bust and selling the rights of his story to Hollywood decides to try his luck out as an actor. However, when he gets there, the ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman
Stars: Joe Pesci, Fred Williamson, Victoria Jackson
Easy Money (1983)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

To inherit his mother-in-law's colossal fortune, a hard-living gambling addict must change his unhealthy ways before they get the best of him.

Director: James Signorelli
Stars: Rodney Dangerfield, Joe Pesci, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Eureka (1983)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

In 1925, Arctic prospector Jack McCann becomes a rich man when he strikes gold but 20 years later he faces major personal and family problems.

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Gene Hackman, Theresa Russell, Rutger Hauer
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Story of a 1940s photographer who specializes in crime and in not getting involved... until this time.

Director: Howard Franklin
Stars: Joe Pesci, Barbara Hershey, Richard Riehle
Half Nelson (TV Series 1985)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Rocky Nelson is a former New York cop, who is trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. However, like most actor wannabees, he is still looking for his big break, and his lack of stature ... See full summary »

Stars: Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Gary Grubbs
Crime | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Jimmy Alto is an actor wannabe who stumbles into the role of a lifetime. He becomes a vigilante crime-fighter, aided by his sidekick William, who has suffered a head wound and has problems ... See full summary »

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Joe Pesci, Christian Slater, Victoria Abril
Man on Fire (1987)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A former CIA agent, John Creasy, is hired as a bodyguard for a girl in Italy, who becomes the daughter he never had. When she is abducted, Creasy's fiery rage is unleashed, and despite being badly wounded, embarks on a bloody revenge spree.

Director: Élie Chouraqui
Stars: Scott Glenn, Jade Malle, Joe Pesci
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Ruby Dennis
...
Paula
...
Louie
...
Glenn
...
Agent
Ivy Ray Browning ...
Sharon
Larry Rapp ...
Arnold
Joseph Rigano ...
Artie
Gene Ruffini ...
Jimmy
Ben Dova ...
Ben
Dominick Grieco ...
Lenny
...
Hesh
...
Ray
...
Cameo
Ronald Maccone ...
Maurice
Edit

Storyline

Joe Pesci is a small man looking for a big break. Owner of a bowling alley and nightclub in Jersey, Ruby Dennis (Pesci) sets his sites on making it big in Vegas. But Ruby finds more than he gambled for and in the end is a much bigger man for it. Written by Justin Keith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One mans dream... is another mans nightmare!

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief nudity | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 August 1982 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

City Dream  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film for Richard S. Castellano. See more »

Quotes

Ruby Dennis: Anybody will accept what you have to offer if you have the money in your hand.
See more »

Connections

Features Men in War (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Come Fly With Me
Written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn
Performed by Joe Pesci
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
One of my favorite films of all time!
21 August 2009 | by (Philadelphia, United States) – See all my reviews

I made a list on my blog of Hidden Gems, more obscure films that shouldn't fallen between the cracks. Dear Mr. Wonderful was #1 on that list. A rather unpredictable #1 pick, ay? Why does it occupy such an esteemed place on this list? Simple...because every time I see it, I am profoundly affected in every way: emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually, and without even a single sign of manipulation or pandering from the creators. Peter Lilienthal, one of the more low-key directors of the New German Cinema movement who helmed the highly regarded Holocaust film David (1979), is one of many mid-to-high profile European directors who came to the United States to direct a film about the American experience from an "outsider's perspective". Others who have attempted this include Wenders (with Paris, Texas), Herzog (with Stroszek), Antonioni (with Zabriskie Point) and Renoir (with The Southerner). What distinguishes this one from most of the others? Lilienthal, it would seem, is more of a humanist than a pedagogue or a weary romanticist, which were both traps many of the other directors had succumbed to. In effect, many of these "outsider films" ultimately become ponderous novelties and/or analytically specious.

Dear Mr. Wonderful is an exquisitely simple film, deliberately paced, more generous with thorough character development than most any other element, although Michael Ballhaus' camera-work, even in its shoddy video pan-and-scan, is certainly handsome. Pesci, in his first starring role after his success in Raging Bull, stars as Ruby Dennis, a Jewish working-class dreamer who owns a bowling alley where he croons Rat Pack-style songs in a lounge area adjacent to where people bowl. He writes and composes his own songs, then belts out old Sammy Cahn tunes with a drink in one hand and a cigarette he doesn't smoke in the other, and dreams of hitting the big-time as a Las Vegas headliner, which he seems to know down deep is a major pipe dream. Pesci's singing voice leaves something to be desired (that is certainly the point of it, however, although his songs are catchy and some like New York Times critic Janet Maslin have actually complemented Pesci's singing voice, so maybe I am the one who is off). It should be noted that Pesci, in real life, was a child singing star who released an album called "Little Joey Sings" (you can't make this stuff up). Ruby lives with his sister Paula (Karen Ludwig, who played Meryl Streep's partner in Manhattan) and her son Raymond (Evan Handler). He spends a great deal of screen time wooing a promising aspiring singer named Sharon (Ivy Ray Browning, who has a lovely voice). His bowling alley is in danger of closing. Credit is being withdrawn and equipment is being slowly taken away by loan sharks (led by Scorsese regular Frank Vincent) who have a very apparent distaste for the "singing kike" Ruby who is more consumed with his lounge-singing than concerned with running a business ("Tell them not to bowl in the outer lanes when I'm singing. Just tell them nicely, 'The man is singing.'") This is something else worthy of mention. Dear Mr. Wonderful has an unabashedly Jewish flavor, which is something to notice because of how refreshingly anomalous it seems, particularly in a day when explicitly Jewish voices were customarily being downplayed or downright eliminated in cinema here and abroad, lest there was a megastar involved or the Jewishness was the driving force or the subject of the given film. Here, in this film, it is part of a much broader canvas, a richer and more encompassing one. The film opens with a simultaneously good-humored and tense Passover seder sequence which rather immediately immerses and absorbs the viewer in the world of the movie. A fish swims around in a shallow bathtub and Pesci kills it with a baseball bat (offscreen) for dinner. In keeping with the alleged Jewish subtext, ultimately the film is also, unequivocally, a thoughtful, complex meditation on a Talmudic precept which states, "A rich man is he who is content with what he has" (which makes sense considering director Lilienthal's Orthodox Jewish background). This meditation is not simply on Ruby's character, but also on the character of Ruby's sister, who leaves her family behind to "save the world" through an underprivileged co-worker of hers, and through Ruby's nephew, who turns to snatching gold necklaces right off of the necks of ladies in the street. The film possesses that quiet kitchen-sink flavor, and the humor of the scenes always keeps you rooting for everyone, despite themselves. The New York City of the film, which I discuss in the respective blog entry, is one that is lost today (it should be noted that while there are plenty of NYC exteriors, a great deal of the interiors were shot in Germany).

One of the most heartbreaking movie scenes of the 1980's, in my opinion, and one where you can almost physically feel the character's humiliation, comes in Tony Martin's cameo. Real-life singer/actor Tony Martin comes to visit Ruby's Palace to listen to him sing, after his nephew Ray invites him via a letter earlier in the movie. I won't spoil the scene, but it's almost gut-wrenching, and the character's arc comes at such a moment of profound humiliation, followed by insult, followed by the most naked vulnerability. Every critic who reviewed the film mentions this scene as being among the most memorable of its era. And the film's ending...perfect understatement and a perfect open ending! I am not going to say any more about this film other than to see it and get back to me when you do. I have been dying to talk to someone about this one!


5 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?