Dubbed by Roger Ebert as one of the greatest films about organised crime ever made, Martin Scorsese‘s brilliant 1990 crime film Goodfellas remains a classic, not just of its genre but of all time. We take the chance to look back some candid images of this epic being constructed by some of the best in the business.
Scorsese’s adaptation of the 1986 crime-fiction novel Wiseguy from Nicholas Pileggi remains a gleaming trophy of the nineties-era film. It remains a shining testament what can be done with an incredible director and a pool of bristling talent which included Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta.
With the latter taking on the lead role of Henry Hill, Liotta delivers a career-defining performance while De Niro and Pesci offer supporting roles which deserve the shine but neglect to hold it all for themselves. The film remains a reminder of how to make great cinema: a truly tremendous script, a suspenseful and artfully created arc, it’s exciting, unique, with developed characters, expert acting and quite incredible cinematography.
With a few snaps below, we can see some of how this breathtaking piece of cinema came about. Before that, read what Marty (Scorsese) had to say about it all in an interview from October 1990: “I was interested in breaking up all the traditional ways of shooting the picture. A guy comes in, sits down, exposition is given. So the hell with the exposition—do it on the voiceover, if need be at all. And then just jump the scene together. Not by chance. The shots are designed so that I know where the cut’s going to be.”
Scorsese added: “The action is pulled out of the middle of the scene, but I know where I’m going to cut it so that it makes an interesting cut. And I always loved those jump cuts in the early French films, in Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution. Compressing time. I get very bored shooting scenes that are traditional scenes. In this film, actually, the style gave me the sense of going on a ride, some sort of crazed amusement-park ride, going through the Underworld, in a way. Take a look at this, and you pan over real fast and, you know, it kind of lends itself to the impression of it not being perfect—which is really what I wanted. That scene near the end, Ed McDonald talking to [the Hills]—I like that, [it’s as if the movie] kind of stops, it gets cold and they’re in this terrifying office. He’s wearing a terrifying tie—it’s the law and you’re stuck. And they’re on the couch and he’s in a chair and that’s the end of the road. That’s scary.”
Below, enjoy some on-set pictures via Cinephilia Beyond:
Take a look below at the letter infamous director Michael Powell had to say upon reading the script for Goodfellas.
In a recent documentary entitled The Real Goodfella, Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro would phone him seven to eight times a day to discuss certain things about Jimmy’s character such was his dedication to the role.
Recently there was a more modern and in-depth look at the making of Goodfellas which can be viewed, below.
(Images via Cinephilia Beyond)