Goodfellas Supplemental Reading

In preparation for our screenings of GOODFELLAS, we’ve compiled a list of reviews and articles on the memorable film.   

LA Times’ Sheila Benson stands GOODFELLAS next to other gangster greats by Coppola and Puzo, but explains how Scorsese’s work in particular stands out for its smaller, street-sense tone. Benson discusses the film according to the book it draws from and its dated sociological perspective.

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers discusses the relationship between the criminal world portrayal and Hollywood at the time of GOODFELLAS’ release. Travers goes over the film on an artistic level, pointing out decisions in editing and photography direction.

Washington Post’s Desson Howe discusses the aesthetics of the criminal life as portrayed in GOODFELLAS. Desson commemorates Scorsese’s “brutal…unblinking view of humanity” in telling the story of a criminal’s journey from the bottom to the top of the pile.

Roger Ebert notes the value of soundtrack in the film to keep us connected to the span of time that the film covers, relevantly changing music tone for each new chapter. Ebert closely looks at how expanded the journey for our protagonist is, and how small complications become large, setting a lifetime of tension up for the audience following Henry.

Variety’s Joseph McBride points out the change in tension from the first half of the film to the second half. He goes into detail about the intensity of plot driving in the film’s third and part of its second act, claiming that it outweighs itself in trying to depict Henry’s “ultimately numbing descent into depravity.”

Reel Screen Life follows the film in detail, offering direct commentary on characterization, scoring, and the purposeful levels of violence spread throughout the film. In responding to the plot in detail, the writer proves how elaborate the time line of the film functions by the end.

Salon invites two film critics to offer back-to-back insight on whether or not the gangster classic GOODFELLAS should be considered one of the top in its genre, or whether “men with guns equals Hollywood profit” is being exemplified here in a lackluster way.

Reel View’s James Berardinelli examines GOODFELLAS an “epic,” and not in the same sense as THE GODFATHER may be considered. Berardinelli regards the film’s dimensional characters capable of both “great good and great evil” its highest developing point, as these characters do monstrous things but we still find ways to sympathize with them.

Jaran Stallbaum Written by: