Martin Scorsese has made some great films in his career, some would argue amongst the best films ever committed to celluloid. One of those films, probably at the top of that list, has to be Goodfellas.
Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s novel ‘Wiseguy’ the real life story of mafioso turned informant, Henry Hill, Goodfellas is a film that grabs you right from is opening gambit, Joe Pesci viciously stabbing another mobster to death in the boot of a car, you pretty much know from then on what kind of film you are gonna be watching.
Released in 1990, Goodfellas pre-production relied heavily upon how well the 3 lead actors gelled together. Scorsese would record De Nero, Liotta and Pesci riffing improvised dialogue to each other and constructed the choicest parts into his finished shooting script to get an authentic feel for how the 3 conversed naturalistically, this if feel added immeasurably to the feel of the film. The film astounds me on a technical level also, case in point the tracking shot at The Copacabana where Henry takes Karen on their first date alone. Comprising one continuous tacking shot taken on stedicam achieved remarkably in just half a day after 8 run throughs. It’s a shot hugely revered and so perfect in its execution it is now known in the industry as ‘The Copa Shot’.
The film was made on a modest budget of $25 million making $46 million domestically. It was nominated for 6 Academy Awards winning 1 hugely deserved Best Supporting actor award for Joe Pesci. Critically and commercially successful, Goodfellas isn’t just regarded as one of the best mafia films of all time but also as one of the best films of all time, period.