1. Goodfellas (1990)
Who better than Martin Scorsese, the man with beetling eyebrows, a lifelong New Yorker and a childhood dream to be a priest, to hear the sins of James 'Jimmy' Conway, Tommy Devito and Henry Hill?
The real story of Henry Hill was different, though. He was a real-life sinner and his crimes had cost him everything. Hijacking trucks and robbing airports brought wealth, yet Hill was just another goombah until his arrest on narcotics charges in 1980.
Convinced that he was due to be whacked by his former friends and unwilling to do a long stretch inside, Hill broke the omertà code and rolled over for the Feds.
Henry’s testimony sent a shockwave through the Mafia. He was immortalised in crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy: Life In A Mafia Family – the most revealing look at the Cosa Nostra since Mario Puzo put pen to paper for The Godfather.
When Scorsese, who’d sworn never to do another mob movie, read it during filming on The Color Of Money, he rang the author immediately: “I’ve been looking for this book for years,” he explained.
The writer shot back: “I’ve been waiting for this phone call my entire life.” The deal was struck. Marty would become Hill’s confessor.
For an extended version of this feature, a huge retrospective on Goodfellas and a copy of Wiseguy (the book Goodfellas was based on), grab the latest issue of Total Film Magazine (157) on sale June 25.
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