Sunday, 12 January 2014

Goodfellas / Wiseguy

Nicholas Pileggi's biography of New York mobster Henry Hill was first published in 1985 to critical acclaim. The intro of the 2009 paperback edition by Bloomsbury- penned by Total Film Deputy Editor Jamie Graham- describes how a number of people “waved it under the nose” of Mean Streets director Martin Scorsese, who was sick of the sight of gangster films by that point. Eventually he succumbed to pressure and was awed in much the same way as I was.

It's a gripping tale of a poor teen kid thrilled by the mob, who lives the dream once he has his foot in the Mafia’s door- until, of course, he gets busted. Through Pileggi, Hill, his wife Karen and various law officials, we follow the ups, downs, romances and dodgy dealings right up to his submersion in the US government's Witness Protection Scheme. As in many adaptations, there's a lot in the book that they just couldn't fit in the film or wouldn't have passed over well so those familiar with the film will still be in for some surprises. Addictive, opulent and brutally honest.

No comments: