You Can’t Refuse These Mob Movies

Every year I get together with my extended family at Easter and other holidays.  This Easter, during the lull between what feels like a 75-course meal and dessert, we all watched A Bronx Tale on television.  Most of us had seen the movie before, some of us had also seen the Broadway play; everyone shared their memories of both.  It also got everyone thinking of other mob movies and which ones we liked best.  Here are some of our favorites:

The Godfather and Godfather Part II (but not the third one – no one mentioned that!).  I am still amazed when I hear someone has not seen these movies.  At my house I would say they have both been watched at least once a year, usually on some cable channel in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.  I even remember way back when I first saw The Godfather.  I was pretty young and could not follow the story very well.  My dad tried to explain who everyone was, why different things were happening and how all the pieces came together.  When I was older, I was able to appreciate the film much more and went on to read Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, the book it was based on.

One that I have always liked, even with it probably being the most violent of the bunch, is Casino.  Although the Godfather movie involved Las Vegas, mainly through the character of Moe Greene, is the movie that comes to mind if I think about the mob and Las Vegas.  Although it has been quite a few years since I saw it, I still remember the feeling of growing apprehension as DeNiro’s and Pesci’s friendship disintegrated.

Another favorite classic mafia movie is Goodfellas.  You may see a pattern here with actors – Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci figure prominently in this genre.  Goodfellas is based on the book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi (Casino was also based on a book by Pileggi).  Pileggi was a journalist who specialized in crime reporting and, while writing, had daily access to the real life Henry Hill.  Watch The Godfather and Goodfellas and contrast their forms of organized crime.   

If you have not seen A Bronx Tale, it is worth watching.  Chazz Palminteri wrote the autobiographical story of a young man growing up in the Bronx.  What appears to be a simple plot – kid gets involved with the local mafia against his family’s wishes – is more complicated, exploring respect, race relations, and the strength to be your own person.  It started as a play, was made into a film, and is currently on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre.

For other mafia titles, take a look at the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Gangster movies, all available at Mercer County Library System.

-- Andrea, Hopewell Branch


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