Tagged: Mafia

Goodfellas: Tommy’s Gray Suit for Mob Mayhem and Mom Visits

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990)

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Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, volatile and violent Mafia associate

New York, Spring 1970

Film: Goodfellas
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy Mother’s Day! One of my favorite cinematic sequences depicting the relationship between a son and his mother comes by way of my favorite movie, in which master auteur Martin Scorsese cast his own mother Catherine as the charming Mrs. DeVito, mother to the psychotic gangster Tommy (Joe Pesci) who brings his cohorts Henry (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy (Robert De Niro) seeking a shovel in a covert night-time stop to fetch a shovel… only to be sweet-talked into an early breakfast.

Catherine Scorsese endearingly embodies the familiar archetype of the aging Italian-American matriarch with her plastic-covered furniture, the gift to effortlessly slip between American English and Italian dialects, and the fierce desire to feed her children and their friends… regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. Continue reading

The Godfather: Michael Corleone’s Sartorial Journey from War Hero to Wiseguy

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone on the set of The Godfather (1972)

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Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, Marine hero-turned-mob boss

New York City and Sicily, Summer 1945 to Summer 1955

Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 14, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The Godfather premiered 50 years ago tonight at Loew’s State Theatre in New York City, forever changing the cultural landscape. Adapted from Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, the saga to bring the mob-centric epic to the screen could have been a plot within the story itself, but eventually the massive reception to The Godfather cemented its enduring significance, reviving Marlon Brando’s career and making stars of its cast of relative newcomers—including Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Robert Duvall—as well as its determined director, Francis Ford Coppola.

Spanning the decade following the end of World War II, The Godfather follows the rise of Michael Corleone, a reserved war hero, as he follows the inevitable path of his father’s footsteps to Mafia leadership. Continue reading

Tony Soprano’s Nautical Vacation Shirt in “Remember When”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, Episode 6.15: “Remember When”

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James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

Miami Beach, Fall 2007

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Remember When” (Episode 6.15)
Air Date: April 22, 2007
Director: Phil Abraham
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

Even gangsters get to go on spring break! Of course, being gangsters, Tony Soprano’s trip to Florida with Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) is less about tequila shots on the beach and more about laying low to avoid the heat after an old murder resurfaces from 1982… but the two wiseguys still get plenty of time to relax in the sun while the remaining arm of the DeMeo crime family scrambles to control any potential damage. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Al Capone’s 1920s Leather Car Coat

Stephen Graham as Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire

Stephen Graham as Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 1.01: “Boardwalk Empire”)

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Stephen Graham as Al Capone, ambitious but volatile mob enforcer

Chicago, Winter 1920

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episodes:
– “Boardwalk Empire” (Episode 1.01, dir. Martin Scorsese, aired 9/19/2010)
– “Anastasia” (Episode 1.04, dir. Jeremy Podeswa, aired 10/10/2010)
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

On the 75th anniversary of Al Capone’s death, I wanted to take this blog’s first overdue look at Stephen Graham’s explosive performance as the infamous gangster on Boardwalk Empire. Capone features as an influential if tertiary character to the main drama in Atlantic City, introduced as a smart-talking enforcer to the old-fashioned—and ill-fated—”Big Jim” Colosimo during the series premiere, set in January 1920 when Prohibition became the unpopular law of the land.

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The Godfather: Fredo’s Yellow Blazer in Las Vegas

John Cazale as Fredo Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

John Cazale as Fredo Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

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John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, insecure Mafia casino manager

Las Vegas, Summer 1954

Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 14, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

“New year, new you” is a theme constantly touted by clickbait articles and lifestyle magazines through early January so, in the spirit of #MafiaMonday and the start of the 50th anniversary year of The Godfather, let’s take a look at one of the more startling reinventions in the world of mob movies: Fredo Corleone’s attempted transformation from forgotten brother to flamboyant swinger.

Sure, Fredo may still need the occasional “straightening out”—after all, banging cocktail waitresses two at a time is hardly good for business—but Las Vegas presents him with the opportunity to shed his middle child syndrome and explore a more independent side of himself… for better or worse. Continue reading

Kirk Douglas in The Brotherhood: Corduroy in Sicily

Kirk Douglas as Frank Ginetta in The Brotherhood (1968)

Kirk Douglas as Frank Ginetta in The Brotherhood (1968)

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Kirk Douglas as Frank Ginetta, Sicilian-American mob boss

Sicily, Spring 1968

Film: The Brotherhood
Release Date: December 25, 1968
Director: Martin Ritt
Costume Designer: Ruth Morley

Background

On what would have been Kirk Douglas’ 105th birthday, today’s post recognizes a unique passion project among the prolific actor’s varied filmography. Though he’d been an uncredited producer on more than a dozen movies, Douglas had only been listed as a producer on Spartacus before he selected The Brotherhood as the next production to carry his name. Despite some valid feedback that he may not be the right visual type for the leading role of Sicilian-born gangster Frank Ginetta, Douglas welcomed the acting challenge… and the help of some dye to darken a newly grown mustache in addition to his famous coiff. Continue reading

The Godfather, Part III: Pacino’s Brick-Red Cardigan

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III (1990)

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III (1990)

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Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, repentant mob boss and World War II veteran

New York City, Fall 1979

Film: The Godfather Part III
Release Date: December 25, 1990
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in.

Sixteen years after its masterpiece sequel told the parallel stories of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and his father Vito (Robert De Niro) building their crime families, Francis Ford Coppola returned to the Corleone clan with the polarizing coda, The Godfather, Part III. Continue reading

The Many Saints of Newark: Dickie Moltisanti’s Black Striped Knit Shirts

Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

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Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, slick gangster

Newark, New Jersey, Summer 1967 through Summer 1971

Film: The Many Saints of Newark
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Director: Alan Taylor
Costume Designer: Amy Westcott

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

“Pain comes from wanting things,” Sal Moltisanti (Ray Liotta) explains to his nephew Dickie, though it could have also been meta-messaging from David Chase, creator of The Sopranos and a frequent critic of the fans and pundits always demanding more from his magnum opus, be it answers (What happened to the Russian? Did Tony die at Holsten’s?) or more stories to be told.

Regarding the latter, Chase had expressed interest in prequel stories—if anything—to continue building the Soprano-verse. He returned to a setting that had intrigued him as far back as his days in film school: the race riots that swept through Newark in July 1967.

While much excitement was garnered when it was announced that the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael would be playing a younger version of the role his father had immortalized on the series, the central character of Chase’s prequel would be Dickie Moltisanti, the smooth mafiosi whose death prior to the events of the series left the hotheaded young gangster Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) desperately in search of a father figure.

After years of The Sopranos building up Dickie’s mythos, Alessandro Nivola delivers a charismatic and engaging performance that makes Dickie Moltisanti a particularly compelling character to finally meet, illustrating the magnetism that would have so entranced a young Tony as well as the internal demons that he would have transferred to Christopher.

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The Sopranos: Johnny Boy’s Red Knit 1960s Shirt

Joseph Siravo as "Johnny Boy" Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 3.03: "Fortunate Son")

Joseph Siravo as “Johnny Boy” Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 3.03: “Fortunate Son”)

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Joseph Siravo as “Johnny Boy” Soprano, gregarious gangster

Newark, New Jersey, Fall 1969

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Fortunate Son” (Episode 3.03)
Air Date: March 11, 2001
Director: Henry J. Bronchtein
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The highly anticipated Soprano saga prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, will be released tomorrow, expanding on the universe of the fictional DiMeo crew in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Michael Gandolfini has already received impressive notices in his portrayal of a teenage version of the role originated by his father, with Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga playing the young future capo’s parents, Johnny Boy and Livia Soprano.

David Chase has acknowledged that the prequel will be retconning some of the timeline that had been outlined in episodes of The Sopranos, specifically the flashbacks in episodes like “Fortunate Son”, which starred Joseph Siravo and Laila Robins as the parents of a pre-teen Tony (Mark Damiano II).

A veteran of stage and screen, Siravo died just over five months ago on April 11, 2021, at the age of 66. The actor had appeared in five episodes of The Sopranos as Tony’s charming but violent father.

As the first episode set after Livia’s death, “Fortunate Son” focuses on the respective roles of young men reacting to new responsibilities, including the recently “made” Christopher Moltisanti, Jackie Aprile Jr. trying to live in the shadows of his late “fawtha”, A.J. Soprano seemingly inheriting his father’s panic attacks, and Tony himself recalling the moment in his childhood when he was first made aware of his own father’s dangerous profession. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in America: De Niro’s Herringbone for a Heist

Robert De Niro as David "Noodles" Aaronson in Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Robert De Niro as David “Noodles” Aaronson in Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

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Robert De Niro as David “Noodles” Aaronson, mob bootlegger and ex-convict

Detroit, Fall 1932

Film: Once Upon a Time in America
Release Date: May 23, 1984
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci

Background

After premiering at Cannes in May and undergoing a truncated release stateside that summer, Sergio Leone’s controversial mob saga Once Upon a Time in America was finally released in the Italian-born director’s home country on this day in 1984. Leone’s final film, and the first he had directed in 13 years, Once Upon a Time in America marked the conclusion to his unofficial “Once Upon a Time…” trilogy.

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