When Robert De Niro had trouble finding a suitable actor to portray Eddie Mush, he asked Chazz Palminteri if they could find the real Eddie Mush to play himself. They found Eddie Montanaro in the same neighborhood still losing bets. After casting him, they became worried that Eddie Mush would "jinx" the film. On Montanaro's first day of filming, it rained.
The story, written by Chazz Palminteri, is adapted from his autobiographical one-man play. His real name is Calogero Lorenzo Palminteri. When Robert De Niro offered to purchase the film rights, Palminteri refused to sell them unless he could write the screenplay and play the role of Sonny. Not factual. De Niro was the only one who wanted Chazz to write the screenplay and play the role of Sonny. They never haggled over money, whereas others offered up to $1million but contingent upon Chazz NOT writing the screenplay and NOT playing Sonny. Chazz turned all those offers down. His agreement with De Niro was on a handshake.
Casting scouts searched around New York City and Long Island for a teenager to play the role of Calogero. A scout noticed Lillo Brancato on Jones Beach. For most of his childhood, Brancato had done impersonations of Robert De Niro and was often told that he resembled De Niro. When he performed an impersonation for the scout, she immediately cast him.
Kathrine Narducci brought her 9-year-old son to the open casting call to audition for the role of young Calogero. When she saw that the role of Calogero's mother was available she asked if she could also audition and got the part.
At one point in the film, Sonny tells Calogero that he read 'Niccolo Machiavelli' during his time in prison. He later tells Calogero how he runs his gang - that he'd rather be feared than loved, because fear is something that he can control, while love is not. Sonny then goes on to stress it's important not to give his people so little that fear crosses over into hate. This concept of leadership stems directly from Machiavelli's most famous book, "The Prince." Chazz says it's better for Chazz to be loved but for Sonny to be feared.
In the Biker Bar Fight scene, a curly haired character with a goatee is often mistaken for an early cameo appearance of Rob Schneider. This is actually a real New York City member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Although it was "A Bronx Tale", virtually all of it was filmed in Astoria and Jackson Heights, Queens. It was easier to capture the period in those locations where many buildings from the 1950s still stood.
According to an interview with Lillo Brancato on 20/20 (1978), Brancato began using drugs during the making of this film. He stated that the first time he used drugs was right before the scene in which Calogero asks Sonny "Is it better to be loved or feared?" Palminteri and De Niro cautioned Brancato numerous times but to no avail.
The original 1988 Broadway production of "A Bronx Tale" by Chazz Palminteri re-opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre on October 25, 2007, ran for 111 performances and closed on February 24, 2008. Chazz still performs A Bronx Tale as his one-man play approx 25 cities a year.
Robert De Niro had to get a CDL-B to drive the buses in the movie. Boston, MA MBTA turned him down for training for his CDL, citing he was not an "employee". NYCTA happily instructed him and he received his CDL-B w/Airbrakes for the movie.
The fictional motorcycle gang Satan's Messengers is obviously based on the notorious and real Hell's Angels. There have been dozens of fictionalized versions to the Hell's Angels in movies and TV shows with convoluted variations on their name. Here, in A Bronx Tale, the word Messenger comes closest to the true intent of the real name; the literal translation of the Greek word "aggelos" from which the word "Angel" is derived, means "messenger".
Both of the actors who play the Italian-American Calogero are of Latino descent. Francis Capra is of half-Dominican descent. Lillo Brancato is of Colombian descent and was adopted by an Italian family.
The horse designated in the stock footage as "Kryptonite" (in the Aqueduct scene) per the jockey's silks is owned by Harbor View Farms. Harbor View Farms owned and campaigned Triple Crown winner Affirmed.