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Why, you might ask, has it taken me so long to include this obviously well-made movie among the list of Great American Films? Because the language and violence in Goodfellas aren’t for everyone, even though it would be hard to make a movie about mobsters without them.
Directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring great performances by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas is based on the real life of Henry Hill. It chronicles his experiences from initial infatuation with the mob life through an inevitable downward spiral as the realities of mob life take hold.
One of my favorite elements of the movie is something I seldom see mentioned, and that’s Scorsese’s use of music in the scenes. His selection of songs often provides a zinger to the visuals, making the scene more poignant – or visceral. But I conclude as I began – if violence and language upset you in movies, watch the slightly sanitized version on television. It would be a shame to miss this classic, though I sympathize with those who avoid violent and profane movies. I usually do, myself.
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