Henry Hill might be a small time gangster, who may have taken part in a robbery with Jimmy Conway and Tommy De Vito, two other gangsters who might have set their sights a bit higher. His two partners could kill off everyone else involved in the robbery, and slowly start to think about climbing up through the hierarchy of the Mob. Henry, however, might be badly affected by his partners' success, but will he consider stooping low enough to bring about the downfall of Jimmy and Tommy?Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
Ray Liotta came into view for the main lead after Martin Scorsese saw him in Something Wild (1986) and Field of Dreams (1989), and especially loved his "explosive energy" in the former film. However, according to Liotta, the casting process took over a year, in which he had to audition several times. The deal was finally sealed during the Venice Film Festival, which Liotta and Scorsese were visiting. Scorsese was protected by bodyguards after receiving several threats from religious groups, due to his controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). When Liotta wanted to take the opportunity to talk to Scorsese about the role again, the bodyguards kept pushing him back. When Scorsese noticed that Liotta remained very calm under this, he knew he had found the right leading man, because the real Henry Hill was also better known for being a calm and silent observer than an aggressive responder. See more »
In the "How am I funny?" scene, Nicky Eyes is sitting to Henry's left. In some shots he holds a flute glass, and in others he's holding a paper coffee cup. In other shots, the coffee cup disappears from the scene. See more »
A television version of the film was prepared by director Martin Scorsese, which retained a good portion of the film's graphic violence. It also retained much of the profanity, minus the F- and S-words, which were dubbed over. Scorsese did a televised introduction upon the film's network premiere. See more »
Starting with the 1950's, we follow Henry Hill from a teen who tries to realise his dream of `always wanting to be a gangster'. He goes from running errands for Paulie Cicero to become a trusted man within his organisation. Working with James Conway and Tommy De Vito, Henry navigates his violent lifestyle where death is never more than a few steps away.
For my generation this was one of our first introductions to Scorsese doing a real tour-de-force of a film - I was too young to appreciate Raging Bull and his 70's work when it first came out and the eighties were a quiet period (except the brilliant king of comedy). So here was a great introduction to a fanatastic director. The plot is spread over such a long time (in terms of story years) that it's hard to get beneath the surface events, but this is a very minor problem given that it's such a great ride. The focus is on events and the culture rather than a deep story and as such Scorsese works with set pieces and events rather than too much characterisation. However the story moves so effectively through the action - Scorsese uses long tracking shots, pumping soundtracks and scenes of building tension and sudden violence to create a masterful experience.
The weakness with lack of depth is really put to the back of your mind by the action, the direction and the performances. The story is well held together by Hill's narrative and the shallowness is easily over looked. Liotta is excellent as the aspiring gangster and is full of self seeking menace. De Niro does what he does best in terms of the Irish gangster role but the standout is Pesci. Pesci gives a strong role as the vicious Tommy and deserved his Oscar. The rest of the cast are all excellent whether it's major roles (Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco) or minor characters (Frank Vincent, Sivero).
The real star here is Scorsese - he uses the camera and the soundtrack to great effect and gets great performances from his cast. A modern gangster feast.
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