| 7.4°C Belfast

Close

Premium

Criminal intent: Goodfellas revolutionised the gangster movie by focusing on the underlings rather than the bosses


Close

Game changer: Goodfellas with (from left) Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci

Game changer: Goodfellas with (from left) Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci

Glamorous times: Lorraine Bracco with Liotta

Glamorous times: Lorraine Bracco with Liotta

Channel 5

Game changer: Goodfellas with (from left) Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci

On September 19, 1990, Martin Scorsese released his two-and-a-half-hour crime epic Goodfellas. Made in a creative frenzy in the summer of 1989, it was based on a book by crime writer Nicholas Pileggi called Wiseguy, which had lifted the lid on the often surprisingly mundane lives of New York gangsters.

Scorsese, who grew up in Little Italy, had always been fascinated by the flashy mobsters who dominated the era and wondered how they lived. That made Goodfellas a personal picture for him and a chance to explore the contradictions that gangsters embodied for Italian-Americans.

Initially, though, it seemed like Goodfellas was going to be controversial. The violence was shocking, even transgressive for its time, and test audiences also found the director's stylistic flashes challenging: at the first screening there were 40 walkouts in the first 10 minutes.