I write to disagree with Kirk Boxleitner's assertion in his review of Killers of the Flower Moon about Goodfellas. In Goodfellas the "toxic mobster culture" is not …
I write to disagree with Kirk Boxleitner's assertion in his review of Killers of the Flower Moon about Goodfellas. In Goodfellas the "toxic mobster culture" is not "excoriated."
Instead, Martin Scorcese asks the audience of that movie to consider the fact that for 25 years (1955-1980) society celebrated and co-existed with a subculture having rigid rules and ruthless consequences for snitching and in fact admired the "Teflon Don" (John Gotti).
No criminal in that movie regrets his actions, has second thoughts or isn't willing to live by the rigid rules. Nor is Scorcese judging the Mafia lifestyle, he is simply telling us about it and asking the rest of us how did this all happen under our noses?
Respectfully, Kirk Boxleitner needs to watch Goodfellas again.
Mr. Alvarez is entirely correct in diagnosing the shamelessness and lack of remorse exhibited by the mobsters depicted by Mr. Scorsese in “Goodfellas,” and as I mentioned in my review of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” I’ll even allow that Marty was overly sympathetic toward Henry Hill.
However, I would encourage Mr. Alvarez to refer to the production of “Goodfellas,” during which Scorsese fought hard to retain the scene in which Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito kills Michael Imperioli’s “Spider” in a fit of pique, because while the studio protested that this scene made Tommy “too unlikable,” for Marty, recasting one of his previously charismatic mobsters in such an unflattering light was the whole point.
Although Tommy’s behavior was considered extreme even by his fellow gangsters, among whom murder was literally regarded as a simple cost of doing business, Scorsese clearly intended that Tommy’s “unlikable” extremes should be seen as the natural progression of his compatriots’ equally amoral and self-destructive behavior, which ultimately led to the downfall of the mob as a whole.
Just because Henry Hill failed to learn the lessons he should have from his own experiences, it doesn’t mean that Marty didn’t intend for viewers of “Goodfellas” to recognize the unhealthy and pathological nature of the mob lifestyle, even though, as Mr. Alvarez accurately points out, it was (and still is) not-so-secretly envied by a significant portion of supposedly civilized society.