Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, New York mob associate and club owner
New York City, Spring 1964
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
It’s gonna be a good summer.
…as Jimmy Conway tells Henry Hill after watching him split up the take from a recent robbery at the JFK’s Air France terminal. Cargo thefts had always been a mob tradition, but the April 1967 heist of $420,000 in cash set a new high mark for the mob as the proceeds were all in “totally, totally untraceable”. No need for shady fences or risky transactions of stolen goods.
Henry dresses fashionably for the robbery, wearing a herringbone sportcoat that shows up a few times throughout the course of Goodfellas. It’s a fine primer on how one can dress for a date, a heist, or even burying a mob murder victim.
What’d He Wear?
Henry’s sportcoat is a black and white herringbone fleck with a shine that indicates the possibility of mohair or silk in its construction. Silk suits have long been associated with gangsterdom, and it’s not beyond the realm of believability that Henry would choose a silk sportcoat for both romantic encounters and the robbery that would define his early criminal career.
The sportcoat is single-breasted with a large, full cut. The slim notch lapels roll down to a 3-button front that Henry wears open all the time. The jacket also has padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and 3-button cuffs. The breast pocket is welted and the hip pockets sit straight with edge-stitched flaps. The rear is ventless.
Henry typically wears the sportcoat with a pair of navy blue flat front trousers that rise high on his waist. The side pockets are slanted, the rear pockets are jetted, and the bottoms are cuffed.
Not much is seen of Henry’s feet in these scenes, but he appears to be wearing a pair of black leather cap toe shoes with thin black ribbed silk socks.
The first time we see the sport coat is briefly when Henry picks Karen up for their first real date. He wears a casual white camp shirt with short sleeves. The slim collar would close with a single button through an extended loop, but Henry wears the top button (and, initially, the second button) open. The rest of the large, clear plastic buttons fasten down the shirt’s plain front.
Next, Henry dons the same sport coat for the Air France heist at JFK. For this, he also wears a soft knit dark navy blue short-sleeve polo shirt with three black plastic buttons on the collar placket.
Fast forward a few years to around December 1970 when Henry is smooching Janice in a bar full of mob associates. The new decade is starting to rear its tacky head, and Henry wears a lavender short-sleeve polo shirt with ribbed short sleeves and a ribbed waistband. The material is a silky polyester, and the placket closes with three gray plastic buttons.
Under the shirt, Henry wears a large gold cross pendant on a thin gold chain as a symbol of his family’s Catholic faith. He has no strong religious convictions himself, but what’s a mobster without his gold chains, eh? Once he converts to Judaism to marry Karen, a Star of David also adorns his neckwear.
For most of these scenes, Henry is still an unmarried, fringe mob associate with the Lucchese family looking to make his bones. He can afford front row seats and Dom Pérignon at the Copa, but he isn’t at the level of wiseguy yet where his hands are weighed down by pinky rings and gold bracelets. His only other accessory from the cross pendant is a gold watch, strapped to his right wrist by a brown leather band.
Go Big or Go Home
Not only do we see Henry wearing the same sportcoat for a date, a mob heist, and a covert burial, but we also get a similar soundtrack of classic early ’60s “girl group” hits for each event. The Chantels’ “Look in My Eyes” from 1961 picks up where Henny Youngman’s cheesy one-liners leave off to provide a soundtrack to the Air France heist.
“Look in My Eyes” was the group’s second major hit after hitting early success with their million-selling “Maybe” in December 1957. Personnel and label changes led to the five-girl group becoming a quartet when they cut “Look in My Eyes” for Carlton Records in 1961, which reached #6 on the R&B charts and #14 on the pop charts.
The Shangri-Las contribute their second track to the Goodfellas soundtrack with “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” playing in the bar as Jimmy pulls Henry away from an increasingly frustrated Janice to tell him that Billy Batts‘s rotting corpse needs to be moved.
The track has an appropriately mysterious and melodramatic sound to punctuate the dark comedy of Jimmy and Tommy taunting Henry during Batts’ re-burial. It was originally recorded in 1964 for The Shangri-Las album Leader of the Pack, named after their best known song which was also featured earlier in Goodfellas.
And, of course, The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” immediately follows Henry picking up Karen for a date for their now-famous night at the Copa… but we’ll get into that suit later.
How to Get the Look
Henry shows how one outfit can be diversified depending on the situation, all just by swapping out shirts.
- Gray specked silk herringbone single-breasted sport coat with slim notch lapels, 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped straight hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
- Navy blue flat front trousers with slanted side pockets, jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark navy blue soft knit short-sleeve polo shirt with 3 black plastic buttons
- Black leather cap-toe laced shoes
- Black thin ribbed silk socks
- Gold Catholic cross pendant
- Gold wristwatch on brown leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
By the time I grew up, there was thirty billion a year in cargo moving through Idlewild Airport and believe me, we tried to steal every bit of it.