Things You May Not About Goodfellas Even If You Go As Far Back As You Can Remember

Martin Scorsese’s best movie is a modern gangster classic, Goodfellas. The crime film is an adaption of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay.

The film narrates the rise and fall of Henry Hill from 1955 to 1980. Since its release in 1990, a lot of interesting things have unfolded. There may have been some real-life monsters while the characters portrayed were revamped a little bit. Don’t consider yourself a fanatic until you’ve digested all of this intriguing trivia.

Some Of The Real Criminals In The Film Were Toned Down Quite A Bit

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

One of the portrayals was Paul Vario, the one-time head of the Lucchese crime family, and Jimmy Burke, the mastermind behind the Lufthansa heist.

Vario (Paul Cicero in the film) was far from being the cool head actor Paul Sorvino portrayed. Jimmy Conway was cunning in the movie, but the real Jimmy was a homicidal maniac.

Both Of Scorsese’s Parents Have Cameos

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Most fans of the film know that Scorsese’s mother Catherine played Tommy’s mother in the dinner scene.

On the other hand, Papa Scorsese pops up later in the movie as Henry’s prison compadre who puts way too many onions in the gravy.

Some Of Henry Hill’s Infamous Criminal Escapades Were Cut From The Film

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Henry Hill’s criminal resume is so long that it wouldn’t fit in one movie. Interestingly enough, Scorsese even axed one of the most controversial sports moments, the Boston College point-shaving scandal of 1978-79.

The scam occurred when Hill and Jimmy Burke recruited three Boston players to manipulate scores to cover point spreads. According to Hill, Hollywood pays better than crime. Nobody will guess how much the ex-mobster earned from Godfellas. That’s just ahead.

The Painting Was Made By Co-Writer Nicholas Pileggi’s Mother

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Tommy’s mother’s painting was actually done by Nicholas Pileggi’s mother. Catherine Scorsese’s line “Did Tommy tell you about my painting?” was scripted, but much of the rest wasn’t.

That include’s Joe Pesci’s line “one dog goes one way and the other dog goes the other way.” That was all improvised.

‘Fat Andy’ Was An Ex-NYPD Cop Who Worked For The Mafia

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Louis Eppolito is an ex-NYPD detective whose father, uncle, and cousin had been in the Mafia.

In 2005, Eppolito and his police partner were arrested and charged with racketeering, obstruction of justice, and up to eight murders. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment plus eighty years.

According To Hill, Crime Pays Better Than Hollywood

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According to The Telegraph, Hill was paid $500,000. However, Hill believed the money he made in his gangster days was nothing but chump change.

The vast wealth from his glory days hardly left him a rich man. Hill claimed he blew most of his mob money on partying and developed a gambling problem. Fun fact: one ex-mobster was so happy with Robert De Niro being in the film that he may have given him advice… or not. More on that later.

Tony Lip Is The Only Actor To Appear In The Godfather And The Sopranos

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Between Lorraine Branco, Tony Sirico and Frank Vincent, The Sopranos shared a huge number of cast members with Goodfellas.

However, the only actor to have appeared in the holy grail of the Mafia pop culture is Tony Lip. The actor is best known for his portrayal of New York crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi.

Terrible Preview Screening Numbers Had The Film Team Concerned

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Nicholas Pileggi claims that a screening in Orange County had over 50-walkouts due to its violent content.

According to an executive producer, one screening ended with the film team hiding at a bowling alley due to an angry audience. But, that fear quickly turned into a success at the box office.

Jimmy Burke Was So Happy Robert De Niro Played Him That Apparently, He Called The Actor

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Nicholas Pileggi denies any of this. He said that De Niro and Burker never spoke, but admitted to something else.

There were men around the set all the time who had known all of the principal characters very well. But De Niro’s portrayal of the mobster was excellent. Joe Pesci was so good in the movie, but there was one thing missing from his character. The mystery behind that is just ahead.

Ray Liotta Channeled His Anger In Certain Scenes After His Mother Passed Away

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

The actor’s mother died from cancer during filming of the movie. Liotta says that he channeled his anger over losing his mother for certain scenes.

One particular instance was the pistol-whipping scene where he shows complete aggravation over what he’s about to do.

The Film Could Have Starred Tom Cruise And Madonna

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According to producer Irwin Winkler, Tom Cruise was discussed and Madonna was in the mix. However, Scorsese was keen on Ray Liotta after seeing him in Something Wild.

Liotta even convinced Winkler that he was the right fit for the role. Scorsese liked Lorianne Bracco due to how she related to Karen, and she grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Joe Pesci Had His Real-Life Counterpart’s Attitude Down, Except For One Thing

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GOODFELLAS, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, 1990

Photo Credit: Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

Joe Pesci’s portrayal of Thomas DeSimone (Tommy DeVito in the movie) was very accurate, with one notable exception.

The real Tommy was massively built compared to Pesci’s Napoleonic appearance. Also, the actor was well into his forties when he took on the role, while DeSimone met death at the age of 28. Goodfellas only Oscar win came as a surprise. The winner of the Best Supporting Actor at the 1991 Academy Awards is still on the way.

Robert De Niro Wanted To Use Real Money For One Particular Scene

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The star of Taxi Driver wanted real money for the scene where Jimmy hands out the money.

The prop master on set gave De Niro $5,000 of his own money. At the end of each take, no one was allowed to leave the set until the money was counted and returned.

While Driving To And From The Set, Ray Liotta Listened To Cassettes Of Interviews of Henry Hill

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GOODFELLAS, Ray Liotta, 1990

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Nicholas Pileggi was the one responsible for doing the interviews with Hill. On each drive, Liotta noted something very intriguing.

The actor noted that Hill casually discussed murders and other crimes while munching on a bag of potato chips. It’s pretty amazing that someone could be so casual about the whole thing.

Goodfellas One Oscar Win Took Everyone By Surprise

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Goodfellas was overshadowed by Dances With Wolves at the 1991 Oscars. The film only took him the Best Supporting Actor award for Joe Pesci’s portrayal of Tommy DeVito.

The My Cousin Vinny star was up against two other mobsters: Al Pacino’s Caprice in Dick Tracy and Andy Garcia’s Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III. How many murders were on-screen? The answer is coming up and it will shock any fan.

Goodfellas Is Considered A Classic, But Roger Ebert Was An Early Adopter

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After the movie was released, it was met with positive reviews and scored some major award nominations. Nevertheless, Roger Ebert was an early adopter when it came to calling Goodfellas an all-time great.

As stated on his website, “No finer film has been made about organized crime-not even The Godfather” all the way back in 1990.

Scorose Played A Specific Set Of Rules When Picking The Soundtrack

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Tony Bennett’s “Rags to Riches” over the opening narration and The Sex Pistol’s “My Way” over the closing credits are just a few reasons why the movie is a classic. While the genres ranged, Scorsese went by a set of rules for picking songs.

They had to vaguely comment on the scene or characters, and they had to be chronologically appropriate at the time the scenes were set in.

Only Five Murders Took Place On Screen

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A crime movie will always be violent, but the number of on-screen deaths in Goodfellas is only five.

A tame number, but you could include 10 if you count the aftermath of Jimmy Conway’s handiwork following the Lufthansa heist. However, the violence and the threat of violence is a constant presence throughout the film.

The Famous “Funny How?” Scene Wasn’t In The Script

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The most quoted scene of the movie comes at the beginning. When Tommy DeVito jokingly-yet-uncomfortably accosts Henry Hill for calling him “funny,” Pesci was responsible for coming up with the premise.

While working at a restaurant, a young Pesci apparently told a mobster that he was funny, a compliment that didn’t seem very enthusiastic.

The 1978 Lufthansa Heist Is Still An Open Investigation

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Many of the mobsters involved with the $6 million heist were taken out by a paranoid and greedy Jimmy Burke. As of 2014, the case was still active, as evidenced by the arrest of Vincent Asaro.

Authorities claimed that Asaro served as a lookout and helped with the getaway. In the movie, it’s believed that Asaro took Spider to get stitched up after he was shot.