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Goodfellas - Special Edition  (1990)


Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, et al.

Director: Martin Scorsese

Rating: R

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Release Date: August 17, 2004
Review posted: August 10, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his friends, Jimmy Conway (De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Pesci), work their way up through the mob hierarchy.




Hey, what can I say about Goodfellas? It's a mob movie classic along the very lines of the first two The Godfather films. There is plenty of great material and rewarding factors in Goodfellas, and I really don't think I need to explain them to you. If you've never seen the film, just go buy it right now. It's that good. But anyone who dislikes violence or bad language, or is squeamish, might want to look elsewhere.


Goodfellas is an excellent achievement by director Martin Scorsese, provided by a serious and well-documented account of the life of former mobster Henry Hill, played perfectly by Ray Liotta in the film. The other actors in the film, and there a lot of recognizable faces here, are just terrific, especially Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco (Hill's wife), and Paul Sorvino (the boss).




Warner Bros. presents GoodFellas in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is an all-new digital transfer, and it shows. Colors look bright and well saturated, and color balance achieves a smooth and warm picture quality. Parts of the picture show signs of a little wear, and there's one instance in a scene where a noticeable line reaches vertically across the image. The majority of the picture looks very nice, though. I didn't notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts. Black levels and dark tones look great. Tiny bits of grain also persist, but mostly this is a pretty good video presentation, a definite improvement over the film's initial release. Optional subtitles include English, French, and Spanish.




Warner Bros. presents GoodFellas in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, with the front speakers handling a lot of the action. The surrounds become active from time to time, but when they do the sound is terrific. The rear speakers, but also the front channels, present the music and sound effects with clarity. A Spanish 2.0 dub track is also available.




The first disc starts off with two audio commentaries. The first commentary is not full-length, but rather it lasts a little under two hours; in effect, this is more of a select-scene commentary that skips forward twice in the film. The various participants, including director Martin Scorsese, co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, producers Irwin Winkler and Barbara De Fina, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, offer their thoughts and give comments here and there. The information is interesting and offers some new insights into the film and the process. This track is obviously edited and culled from a variety of interviews, though some of the participants probably sat down to watch scenes of the film for the commentary.


The second commentary by Henry Hill and Edward McDonald (former FBI Agent) feels quite authentic, but also is a little more interesting than the former track. Both men discuss the film, the actual events, and other stories. Hill's observations and comments, such as "this is how it happened," as well as McDonald's analysis of various scenes and elements, are interesting to listen to. Hill's advice during the end credits to youngsters is well intended, but somehow I have a feeling it will go unnoticed.


"That's the way it is with a wiseguy partner. He gets his money no matter what. You got no business? Fuck you, pay me. You had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning and World War Three started in the lounge? Fuck you, pay me." - Henry Hill


Getting Made (29:35) is the film's making-of documentary. The background information of the project, how Scorsese read the book while making The Color of Money in Chicago, is repeated from the first commentary. The docu covers the casting, and features (apparently new) interviews with Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, Henry Hill, Nicholas Pileggi, producers Irwin Winkler and Barbara De Fina, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci appear in interview snippets from 1990, which is kind of weak. The docu also discusses, for nearly twenty minutes, the filmmaking genius of Scorsese.


The Workaday Gangster (7:57) focuses on Henry Hill's discussion and reflection about his life in the mob. Interesting stuff, also a bit scary.


"But, I'm funny how? Funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to fuckin' amuse you?" - Tommy


Made Men: The Goodfellas Legacy (13:32) is kind of a mixed featurette in my view. Directors such as Joe Carnahan (Narc), Jon Favreau (Elf), Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), The Hughes Brothers (In Hell), Richard Linklater (School of Rock), and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) comment on the film's influence and point out the film's importance and greatness, as well as the film's depiction of violence, cinematography, and editing. Frankly, I don't need other directors telling me how good Goodfellas is and that Scorsese is a great/influential director, although some of the discussions here are good; such as Darabont watched Goodfellas once every weekend for inspiration while filming Shawshank Redemption.


Paper is Cheaper than Film (4:28) is a storyboard-to-screen comparison featurette. Rough storyboard drawings by Scorsese float towards the bottom of the respective scene from the film.


Rounding out the extras is the film's theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen, and a list of awards the film received (on disc 1). The 145-minute feature is organized into forty-six chapters. There is no paper insert.


"I'm not mad, I'm proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut." - Jimmy




If you're still reading at this point I probably failed to explain how good the film is, and I unsuccessfully got the message across that you should simply buy this DVD right now, and stop reading this review. Okay, I'm being a little short-changed, but hey, it's all good. Goodfellas is a great film.




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