Edit
Goodfellas (1990) Poster

(1990)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (4)
The word "fuck" is used 321 times, for an average of 2.04 fucks per minute. About half of them are said by Joe Pesci.
The "You think I'm funny?" scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions.
According to the real Henry Hill, whose life was the basis for the book and film, Joe Pesci's portrayal of Tommy DeSimone was 90% to 99% accurate, with one notable exception; the real Tommy DeSimone was a massively built, strapping man.
The now-legendary Steadicam trip through the nightclub kitchen was a happy accident. Scorsese had been denied permission to go through the front, and had to improvise an alternative.
In a documentary entitled The Real Goodfella (2006), which aired in the UK, Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro would phone him seven to eight times a day to discuss certain things about Jimmy's character, such as how Jimmy would hold his cigarette, etc.
Martin Scorsese first got wind of Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy" when he was handed the galley proofs. Although Scorsese had sworn off making another gangster movie, he immediately cold-called the writer and told him, "I've been waiting for this book my entire life." To which Pileggi replied, "I've been waiting for this phone call my entire life."
Ray Liotta's mother died of cancer during filming. Liotta says that he used his anger over losing his mother for certain scenes, the pistol-whipping scene in particular.
After the premiere, Henry Hill went around and revealed his true identity. In response, the government kicked him out of the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Director Martin Scorsese's mother, Catherine Scorsese, plays Tommy's mother. She and the cast ad-libbed the dinner scene. Scorsese's father, Charles Scorsese, plays the prisoner who puts too many onions in the tomato sauce.
After Joe Pesci's mother saw the film, she told her son that the movie was good, then asked him if he had to swear so much.
According to Nicholas Pileggi, some actual mobsters were hired as extras to lend authenticity to scenes. The mobsters gave fake Social Security numbers to Warner Bros. and it is unknown how they received their paychecks.
Al Pacino was offered the role of Jimmy Conway but he turned it down due to fears of typecasting. Ironically, that same year Pacino ended up playing a gangster - Big Boy Caprice in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy (1990). He admits he regrets this decision.
Paul Sorvino wanted to drop out of the role of Paulie three days before filming began because he felt that he lacked the cold personality to play the character. He called his agent and asked to be released from the film. Sorvino's agent told him to think about it for one day before making a final decision. That night, Sorvino looked in the mirror and was frightened by the look on his face. He realized that that look was the look he needed to play Paulie.
The movie's line "As far back as I could remember I've always wanted to be a gangster." was voted as the #20 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
According to Ray Liotta, Martin Scorsese was so involved in every detail of the cast's wardrobe that he tied Liotta's tie himself to make sure it was accurate for the film's setting.
Joe Pesci's Oscar acceptance speech is the sixth shortest in the Academy's history. All Pesci said was "It's my privilege, thank you", later admitting that he didn't say very much because he genuinely felt that he didn't have a chance of winning. (The shortest acceptance speeches are "Thank you", made by Patty Duke in 1963 when she won Best Supporting Actress Actor for The Miracle Worker (1962), "Thank you," made by Louie Psihoyos in 2010 when he won Best Documentary for The Cove (2009), Gloria Graham and Alfred Newman both said "Thank you very much" in 1963, and William Holden who said "Thank you. Thank you," in 1954. "Thank you. Very much indeed," was all that Alfred Hitchcock said when he won an Honorary Oscar in 1968, putting him one letter longer than Pesci.)
The character of 'Fat Andy' whom Henry introduces us to in the bar is played by Louis Eppolito, an ex-NYPD detective whose father, uncle and cousin had all been in the Mafia. In 2005 Eppolito and his police partner were arrested and charged with racketeering, obstruction of justice, extortion and up to 8 murders. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment plus 80 years.
Every one of Robert De Niro's outfits had a watch and a pinkie ring to go with it.
Ray Liotta turned down the part of Harvey Dent in Batman (1989) in order to make Goodfellas (1990).
When Henry and Karen Hill are negotiating to enter the Witness Protection Program, former U.S. Attorney Edward McDonald plays himself, re-enacting what he did in real life.
For the scene where Sonny Bunz complains to Paulie, Martin Scorsese secretly told Tony Darrow to improvise more lines for his character without telling Paul Sorvino. Sorvino's confused reaction was real.
In January 2014, several New York City organized crime figures were arrested as part of a federal investigation into a series of unsolved crimes, the most famous of which is the central caper in Goodfellas (1990), the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at JFK Airport that netted over $6 million in cash and jewelry.
According to Ray Liotta, both Robert De Niro and 'Tina Sinatra (I)' prank his make-up room with a (fake) severed horse head, as an homage to The Godfather (1972) and an initiation into Mafioso films.
The studio was initially very nervous about the film due to its extreme violence and language. The film reportedly received the worst preview response in the studio's history. Scorsese said that "the numbers were so low it was funny". Nevertheless the film was released without alteration to overwhelming critical acclaim, cementing Scorsese's reputation as America's foremost film-maker.
The first scene filmed was the Morrie's Wigs commercial. Martin Scorsese was inspired by a low-budget commercial that ran in New York City for a replacement window company. Scorsese contacted the company and found that the spokesperson in the ad was Stephen R. Pacca, who owned the company and created the ad himself. Pacca was hired to write, direct and edit the commercial for Morrie's Wigs so it could look like an authentic local ad.
When Paulie confronts Henry after Henry's released from prison, Paul Sorvino improvised the slap to Ray Liotta's face. Hence Liotta's reaction.
According to Debi Mazar, when her character trips after meeting Henry it was actually Mazar tripping over the camera dolly track. Martin Scorsese liked it because it looked like she was overwhelmed by Henry and left it in the film.
It was claimed that at the time the real life gangster Jimmy Burke was so happy to have Robert De Niro play him that he phoned him from prison to give him a few pointers. Author/screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi denies this, saying De Niro and Burke had never spoken, but admitting that there were men around the set all the time who had known all of the principal characters very well.
Bobby Vinton was played by his son Robbie Vinton, who lip-synched to his father's recording.
Tom Cruise and Madonna were the producers' first choice for the roles of Henry Hill and his wife. Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco were subsequently cast in those parts.
The MPAA ordered 10 frames of blood removed from the film before granting it an 'R' rating.
Robert De Niro wanted to use real money for the scene where Jimmy hands out money. The prop master gave De Niro $5,000 of his own money. At the end of each take, no one was allowed to leave the set until all the money was returned.
Joe Pesci was in his 40s at the time of filming, though Tommy Devito, Pesci's character's inspiration was in his 20s.
One of the little girls who plays Henry and Karen's daughters (specifically, the one in Karen's arms who was too shy to give Paulie a kiss when they arrive at his house for dinner) is Lorraine Bracco's actual daughter with Harvey Keitel, Stella.
At Martin Scorsese's request, associates of the actual people were always on the set of the film, giving helpful and essential information about the life, people, settings and moods.
Martin Scorsese reportedly didn't want Ray Liotta to have contact with the real Henry Hill before filming because he had never directed Liotta before and didn't want Hill to influence Liotta.
The long tracking shot in the Copa took seven takes. One take was ruined because Henny Youngman forgot his lines. According to Illeana Douglas, Scorsese was inspired by the long Steadicam shot in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987).
The painting that Joe Pesci's character's mother brings out was actually painted by "Wiseguy" author Nicholas Pileggi's mother.
For the famous "Layla" montage, Martin Scorsese actually played the "piano coda" section of the song during the shooting of each scene so that certain bars of the piano piece would match up with certain shots.
Tony Darrow who plays Sonny Bunz, the owner of the Bamboo Lounge, worked in the real-life Bamboo Lounge where Henry Hill, and the people whom the film's characters are based on would hang out.
The film's name was changed from "Wiseguy" to avoid confusion with both the TV series Wiseguy (1987) and Brian De Palma's similarly titled film, Wise Guys (1986). Charles Scorsese, Catherine Scorsese and Frank Vincent appear in both Wise Guys and Goodfellas.
After the real Henry Hill's death on June 12, 2012 Ray Liotta claimed that he only had a few meetings with Hill and never got to know him well.
The dinner scene with Tommy's mother was almost completely improvised by the actors, including Tommy asking his mother if he could borrow her butcher's knife and Jimmy's "hoof" comment.
Louis Eppolito(Fat Tony) wrote "Mafia Cop," a true story about growing up in a mafia family and becoming an NYPD officer. In April 2006, he was convicted of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, and racketeering, for working as a mafia informant and hit-man. The conviction was overturned due to a technicality, then reinstated on appeal in 2008. In 2009, he was sentenced to life plus 100 years in prison.
The later life of Henry Hill, after he enters the Witness Protection Program, was also adapted, more humorously, into My Blue Heaven (1990) the same year. Appropriately, that film was written by Nora Ephron, who is Nicholas Pileggi's wife.
Although Scorsese and Pileggi collaborated on the screenplay (and received Oscar nominations for doing so), much of the film's eventual dialog was improvised by the actors.
Voted #1 in Total Film's 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list (November 2005).
At first, producer Irwin Winkler disagreed when Martin Scorsese cast Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. One night, Liotta approached Winkler in a restaurant and asked for a minute alone. They walked into the bar area, and Liotta told Winkler why he thought he was good for the role. Winkler called Scorsese the next day and told him to go ahead.
Lorraine Bracco demanded real jewelry to be used for Karen's dresser. The production designer rented expensive gold and stones that were protected by armed guards.
Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Gangster" in June 2008
Early on, Karen confronts Henry and says "What, do you think you're Frankie Valli or some big shot?" She is referring, of course, to the lead singer of The Four Seasons. Like Henry, the band had ties to the mob, and a member named Tommy DeVito.
When Karen sees Janice Rossi in the prison visitor registry, the name below is listed as "Ballibusteros".
According to Ray Liotta on the special edition DVD of this film, Sean Penn was also considered as Henry Hill.
Jimmy Burke, on whom Jimmy Conway was based, would've been eligible for parole in 2004. He died of lung cancer in 1996, while still in prison.
The name Tommy DeVito is an obvious nod to Tommy DeVito, the lead guitarist of The Four Seasons, who Joe Pesci was friends with.
Mike Starr, who plays "Frenchy" in the film, plays the same role in The 10 Million Dollar Getaway (1991), a Jimmy Burke/Conway telling of the Lufthansa heist portion of "Goodfellas".
The painting that Tommy's mother shows to Tommy, Jimmy and Henry, is based on a picture from the November 1978 National Geographic.
The movie's line "How am I funny?" was voted as the #87 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
While driving to and from the set, Ray Liotta listened to cassettes of interviews that Nicholas Pileggi did with Henry Hill. Liotta noted that Hill casually discussed murders and other crimes while eating potato chips.
Ray Liotta was cast after Martin Scorsese saw him in Field of Dreams (1989).
John Malkovich was considered for Jimmy Conway but he turned it down.
During one of the final scenes, Henry Hill opens his front door and picks up a newspaper. Close inspection reveals that the newspaper is the Youngstown Vindicator. Martin Scorsese included it as an homage to Youngstown, Ohio, which has been called Mobtown USA.
The last film Martin Scorsese shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio for twenty-one years until his return to 1.85:1 with his 3D film Hugo (2011).
Ellen Barkin was considered for the role of Karen Hill.
Alec Baldwin auditioned for the role of Henry Hill.
Christopher Serrone, who played young Henry, wore blue contact lenses to match Ray Liotta's blue eyes. Serrone's eyes are actually brown.
Frank Vincent originally wanted the role of Paulie Cicero, which went to Paul Sorvino.
Voted #6 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (September 2008).
The young "extra" carrying a J&B box off the truck and into the Bamboo Lounge is Glenn Taranto.
Barry Sonnenfeld took over as cinematographer for the last few days of filming, as Michael Ballhaus had to leave to shoot Postcards from the Edge (1990).
Jimmy Conway, was based on gangster Jimmy Burke, who was born James Conway.
Joseph Bono has a small role as a gangster in both Goodfellas (1990) and Raging Bull (1980). Guido, Bono's character in Raging Bull (1980), only has a couple of lines. During the pool scene, Guido hears about a guy who was hitting on Vickie. He says, "That's the same guy..? I gotta break his legs... No, I'll catch him." In Goodfellas (1990), Bono has a cameo as a mobster named Mikey Franzese, who appears briefly as the camera pans through the Bamboo Lounge near the start of the movie. Mikey's only line was: "I haven't saw that guy. Yeah, I wanna see him."
Originally Scorsese planned to make this before The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). When funding for the religious film finally materialized, he decided to postpone "Wiseguy", the film's working title.
The film's soundtrack did not include many of the songs featured in the film, most of them being the tracks played during the lengthy scene where Henry rushes around trying to make his drug deal. The songs sampled during the scene are, in order, "Jump Into the Fire" by Harry Nilsson, "Memo From Turner" by The Rolling Stones, "Magic Bus" by The Who (from the Live at Leeds album), "Monkey Man" by The Rolling Stones, "Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters, "What is Life" by George Harrison, "Mannish Boy" again and "Toad" by Cream.
Martin Scorsese wanted William Petersen to star in this movie, but Petersen declined.
The American Mutoscope & Biograph Company's groundbreaking gangster film short The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) influenced director Martin Scorsese's gangster films Goodfellas (1990) and Gangs of New York (2002). Scorcese chose it for his 2005 tribute at Beaubourg (1977) in Paris, France. Biograph, the oldest movie company in America, is still in business.
A few scenes include taxis with a real phone number on the side. They're from Four Ones, a real cab service in Glendale, Queens.
Based on the book "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi. The movie was renamed to avoid confusion with the TV series Wiseguy (1987).
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #92 Greatest USA Movie of All Time.
When the camera cranes up to reveal the dead bodies in the pink Cadillac, the piano exit of Derek & the Dominoes "Layla" starts to play. Originally played in C major, the tape speed of the coda was increased during mixing. The resulting pitch is somewhere between C and C sharp.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

During filming of the scene in which his character is killed by Joe Pesci, Michael Imperioli broke a glass in his hand and had to be rushed to the emergency room. When doctors saw what appeared to be a gunshot wound in his chest, they tried to treat it. When Imperioli told them what was really up, he was made to wait for three hours. Director Martin Scorsese told Imperioli that someday he'd be telling that story on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992). The prediction came true in March, 2000.
Henry states that Tommy was shot in the face so that his mother could not give him an open-casket funeral. Tommy's real-life counterpart, Tommy DeSimone, was killed in January 1979. His remains have never been recovered.
The scene in which Tommy kills Spider was mostly improvised. The only line that was said as scripted was Spider's "Why don't you go fuck yourself".
Body count: 10

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page