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Goodfellas is my third favorite movie ever (only after Godfather 1 & 2) and is one of the greatest movies in history. Considered to be Martin Scorsese’s best work, the 1990 classic was an adaptation of the book “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi. The story takes place over three decades, but still moves at a breakneck pace. Scorsese said he wanted it to feel like “a two-and-a-half hour trailer” so that people could feel the exhilaration of the mob lifestyle.
A lot of the script was improvised. Actors would do sessions that Scorsese would record, and then rewrite based on what worked. The famous “Funny how?” scene was improvised by Pesci and was based on a real life experience he had. When filming it, Scorsese didn’t include it in the script so that Liotta’s reactions would be genuine. Also, the entire scene with Tommy’s mom (who was played by Scorsese’s real mother) was improvised.
The film was produced on a $25mm budget, and although it was the largest budget Scorsese had worked with at the time, it was still a mid-low budget in Hollywood’s standards. However this forced the crew to get creative. The long tracking shot through the Copacabana nightclub came about because the crew couldn’t get permission to enter through the front. So Scorsese decided to film it in one-shot. They accomplished the final version after only 8 takes.
It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture & Best Director, and Joe Pesci won for Best Supporting Actor. Although it didn’t win Best Picture, its praises were widely sung, including Siskel & Ebert saying it was their favorite movie of 1990. It’s ranked sixth on Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, ranked the second best gangster-genre film ever by the American Film Institute, and was preserved in the National Film Registry by the US Library of Congress who deemed it, “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
It’s an all-time classic and has been a staple in my life since the first time I saw it. Being able to work on collections centered around the things that shaped me growing up is the basis of what the Kith brand is built on. I look forward to sharing this moment with you this Monday.