I consider myself to be a very peaceful person. Action movies, gory movies and plotless violence have never really floated my boat in an entertainment sense. However, I make great exceptions to my disdain for senseless violence if it is shown to me on the big screen, and there is a gun to leave and a cannoli to take.
Gangster movies are absolutely my favorite genre of film. The time period in which they take place in, the slightly unrealistic yet realistic scenarios, and of course, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s presence in almost all the classics definitely strikes my interest. Goodfellas, The Departed, A Bronx Tale, Scarface and of course Godfather I and II (because Godfather Part III doesn’t exist) are the most cherished movies of my life.
However, my introduction to the world of slicked back hair and swear words I did not even know existed was pretty unguided. The first gangster movie of which I stumbled across was arguably the most violent out of the six I just named. I was 15, it was late at night and I had full liberty to order whatever movie I wanted on HBO on Demand from the goodness of my dad’s wallet.
Alone in my room with just the light of the television, I witnessed as Tony Montana and his brother hang by their wrists in a shower with a chainsaw coming at them. Tony Montana’s brother was butchered by the man with the chainsaw and Tony was drenched in blood and horror for the sake of millions of dollars worth of cocaine. Was I terrified? Yes. Was I hooked? Oh yeah.
Like I said before, I am not a fan of blood and gore. So although I did thoroughly enjoy Scarface in a very twisted sense, Goodfellas, the second gangster film I ever saw, pulled me in even farther. Ray Liotta as Henry Hill was absolutely perfect. Hill was out of his mind by the end of the movie after his young introduction to the glamour and power of mob life until the moment witness protection turned him into an average Joe. Liotta, who is off his rocker in the first place, was amazing in this role, especially with that eternally maniacal laugh of his. He’s funny, funny like a clown, ya know? But don’t tell Joe Pesci that.
Of all the mob movies, gangster films or whatever term you prefer, the one most beloved to my heart is the Godfather films, no contest. Mobsters and those involved in organized crime are only seen as stoic, violent and unaffected by the bloodshed they cause. However, why I love these movies so much is that Mario Puzo humanizes these men and portrays them as people just like us; with families, dreams and bills to pay.
Sonny’s tragic and absolutely brutal death hit me the hardest out of all the murders in any gangster film. You can’t tell me when Marlon Brando looks at Sonny when he is dead and mangled and says “Look what they’ve done to my boy,” you didn’t get a slight chill. One can really see the pain in the hearts of the Corleone family, despite their money and empire of power. The anger that they feel and the resulting violence is somewhat justified on an emotional level, or at least has an understandable cause. It is a very strange way of saying, to each his own; but please don’t murder people anyway.
Also if you can find someone who thinks Godfather Part III deserves any attention or was well made, please tell me and I’ll handle it.