Robert De Niro directs himself, Chazz Palminteri and Lillo Brancato, Jr. in this period coming-of-age drama where a New York youth needs to decide between the values of his hard working father and the glamorous neighbourhood mob boss who takes him under his wing.
“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Watched this to death as a teenager, bought it as a ‘Big Box’ Ex-Rental VHS. Still have a genuine and somehow still growing and growing fondness for it. Deceptively simple. Landing somewhere between Goodfellas and Stand By Me. Just rich with perfectly handled moments. Doo-Wop quartets on the corner. Pestering the fruit and veg man. A shooting “over a parking spot.” The police forcing you to snitch, looking up at all those murderous faces when you are just a little kid, no one sure if the kid will do the right thing, everyone knowing what the consequences are if he does. Nail biting. Jimmy Whispers. Eddie Mush. Frankie Coffee Cake. After seeing Chazz Palminteri’s one man theatre show De Niro wanted to direct it. He paid the money for the rights and made a gentleman’s agreement with Chazz the creator on who should play the gangster and adapt it for the big screen… but only if he, the A-Lister, could be the less showy family man, Lorenzo. Now Palminteri smashes his role as Sonny… but you can see why De Niro wanted to perform as the bus driver. One of his best turns – he exudes warmth, frustration and pragmatism. One of the most memorable movie Dads ever, a telly channel should have made a tradition of showing this every Father’s Day. A game of craps where the most annoying players are relegated to toilets. Lots of humour. Even the scariest, most intense characters get moments of grace and levity.
“I was getting two educations: One from the street and one from school. That way I’d be twice as smart as everybody.” The Dad and the surrogate face off in a scene pregnant with danger. We leap to 17. A sweet interracial romance. Eddie Mush goes to the racetrack. “You don’t even like him. There’s your answer right there. Look at it this way: It costs you 20 dollars to get rid of him… He’s out of your life for 20 dollars. You got off cheap. Forget him.” Street violence. Satan’s Messengers go into the wrong bar = even more violence. Baby Herc from The Wire selling guns.
“You’re only allowed three great women in your lifetime. They come along like the great fighters, every ten years.” The door lock test to true love. Molotov cocktails. A face in the crowd. My Cameo Vinny. What a movie! Manly, emotionally mature, full of great advice for young boys growing up on how to be themselves in the world.
Perfect Double Bill: Sleepers (1996)
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/