Review of GoodFellas

The movie GoodFellas, directed by Martin Scorsese is ranked number 92 on AFI’s top one hundred films.  It is the ninth movie I have completed for my challenge.  I watched this movie two weekends ago, which means that this review is late.  However, after watching this film I wanted time to process it.  This movie is a violent and disturbing look into what life is like inside the mafia.

This was not my first time watching this film.  Even though I had seen it before, I still found parts of the movie shocking.  Let me start from the beginning. The movie chronicles the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).  Henry is one of the narrators of the movie. From an early age, Hill wanted to be a “wise guy.”  He watched these guys in his neighborhood and he yearned their power.  He wanted the money, the girls, the influence, and respect.

He enters the mafia world as a teenager.  And he starts to work his way up the food chain. Along the way he meets and marries Karen, a Jewish girl. Karen (Lorraine Bracco) also narrates the story.  Karen’s character shocked me the most.  She married into the mob. However, before she marries Henry, there are signs that he is not your typical working class guy.  At one point, she watches Henry beat a man who harassed her with a gun. Henry smashes him repeatedly in the head and then walks over to Karen’s house and hands her a bloody gun and asks her to hide it.  I don’t know about you folks, but if this happened to me I would be running for the hills. I wouldn’t marry the guy.  At one point, she admits that she’s proud that her guy is willing to work so hard to steal to provide for the family.  She’s proud that he isn’t lazy.

Karen and Henry are not the only disturbing characters in this film.  The movie introduces Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) who is for the most part a likable guy.  That is until his temper explodes and people get hurt or killed.  Pesci’s performance is fantastic.  James Conway (Robert De Niro) is another fascinating character in this film.  He loves his job because he loves to steal things.

The movie chronicles Henry Hill’s thirty years in the mafia.  The terrifying aspect of Scorsese’s film is that at points he makes the characters seem normal.  He shows the guys with their wives and families at dinners, poker games, and on vacations.  If he didn’t show the violence, these people might seem like fun guys to hang out with. However, you can’t avoid the violence in this film.  It gets bloody.  It is disturbing on many different levels.

Then things start to go wrong for Henry Hill.  From this point on, there will be some spoilers.  If you don’t want to know the ending of this film, please stop here.

Even though the don of the mafia warned Henry not to get involved in dealing drugs, Henry can’t follow these orders.  He is making too much money.  But he gets pinched. The only way to save himself is to rat out his friends.  After spending three decades in the mob and then turning informant, Henry has regrets.   However, he doesn’t regret his crimes. He doesn’t have regrets about the people who he and his comrades harmed or killed.  He regrets ratting out his friends.  He regrets losing his lifestyle.  He didn’t want to leave the mob.  He had to leave the mob to save his own neck.  And he had to put his friends in jail.

His remorse made this movie even more disturbing to me.  Here was a guy who loved his life in the mafia and he was sad that his life of crime and killing people was over. This movie made me wonder how many people like Henry are out there.

This movie was nominated for six Academy Awards.  Joe Pesci won for Best Supporting Actor.  It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Bracco), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay based on material from another medium.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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16 Responses to Review of GoodFellas

  1. Caroline says:

    I’ve seen it but cannot remember all that much anymore but I thought recently I’d like to watch it again. Never made it through the Godfather though. No idea why.
    The family aspect of the mafia is amazing. For them it’s really just a job.

    • TBM says:

      It is a great movie, in a disturbing and make you think kinda way. I like the Godfather, which is good since two of them are on my list.

      I would never survive in a mafia family. I don’t think I’ve stolen anything in my life. The guilt would kill me. They would have to take me out since I would rat out everyone.

      • Caroline says:

        When I was little I once stole something in a shop, went out and had such a bad conscience that I brought it back or rather put it back. It was more difficult to bring it back without being caught than to steal it. That’s the whole extent of my criminal career.

  2. The movi should b much higher than 92. The bigger crime though is that it was beaten out for Best Picture by Dances with Freakin’ Wolves!

  3. TBM says:

    No worries 🙂 I liked Dances with Wolves but I agree that GoodFellas is a great film. And Dances with Wolves was on the first AFI list but didn’t make the second list. Goodfellas moved up two spots on the second list

  4. I’ve never seen it but I’m a big fan of Scorsese’s latest works, so I’m going to rent this one.

  5. TBM says:

    Caroline that is too funny. Neither one of us would make a great wise guy! I’m glad you didn’t get caught returning it. That would have been a nightmare.

  6. uncoolghoul says:

    I’ve seen this movie a few times. I’ve always enjoyed it, along with the Godfather Trilogy, A Bronx Tale and Donnie Brasco. I was also disturbed by how easily Karen was seduced by the life as well. She just falls into it. Their relationship is so treacherous. He cheats and sells drugs, yet she stands by him.

    • TBM says:

      I love the Godfather movies. I’ll have to look into A Bronx Tale and Donnie Brasco.

      What was up with Karen? Seriously, I couldn’t handle the stress or him.

  7. Melissa says:

    I LOVE this movie, it is on my Top 20 list. While Karen’s behavior may seem shocking now, for the time maybe not so much. They got married in 1965, I have a feeling she only knew her parent’s home and lifestyle so she was sheltered from the world she was marrying into. She was attracted to his strength and his connections- they were treated like royalty-she didn’t know the price until she grew up a little. And to be honest I think deep down we have all hoped to have a guy that is so willing to defend our honor like that. Maybe it was instinctual/primal, she knew at that point he could protect her.
    I have the DVD and watched it once with the commentary on-it was the real Henry Hill and his FBI agent, very enlightening.

    • TBM says:

      You make some good points about Karen. Can you imagine finding out what you married into? I love her expression when she hangs out with the other wives for the first time. Oh man, you can tell she was like what the?

      I bet the commentary would be great. I haven’t listened to it, but I might some time. It would be great to hear more about the story as it is unfolding. Crazy life.

  8. The Hook says:

    Great pick! Goodfellas is one of those movies you can watch 100 times and NEVER be bored!

Thanks for commenting, I would love to hear from you.

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