Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1990. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese, based on the novel Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by Irwin Winkler. Production Design by Kristi Zea. Costume Design by Richard Bruno. Film Editing by James Y. Kwei, Thelma Schoonmaker. Academy Awards 1990. Golden Globe Awards 1990.
Martin Scorsese’s greatest achievement among his Tough Guys movies. Featuring exceptional performances and a brilliant script co-written by Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi, author of the original novel Wise Guys that the screenplay is based on, it follows three New York City hoods through their lives in the crime racket. Ray Liotta is the protagonist, the narrator through whose eyes everything is viewed as he and his pals Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro climb their way through the hierarchies of the mob in order to make it to the top. When things start getting tough for Liotta in his personal life, he begins to reevaluate his experience and wonder if maybe he doesn’t want to get out, but doing so would be dangerous for his friends, leaving him hanging between a rock and a hard place. Lorraine Bracco is terrific as Liotta’s boisterous wife, but the show is completely stolen by Pesci’s madly energetic, terrifying performance as the loose cannon in the group.