🎥🍣 Movie Sushi - Goodfellas

AdGridley
7 min readDec 2, 2020

East New York, Brooklyn, 1955.

Henry always wanted to be a wiseguy. His first job was working for Pauli Cicero at the cab stand. He can barely see over the steering wheel, but he’s parking Cadillacs. At the age of thirteen, he was already making more money than most of the grown-ups in the neighbourhood.

Jimmy Conway was a legend at 28 or 29 and he tipped everybody. People got $100 bills for opening doors or just keeping the ice cubes cold. Jimmy was one of the most feared men in the city. He was first locked up at the age of eleven and was doing hits for mob bosses at sixteen. He was one of the biggest hijackers of booze, cigarettes, razor blades or shrimp and lobster — which went really fast. When Henry is arrested for the first time selling black market cigarettes, all the wiseguys applaud him because he broke his cherry.

In 1963, $30bn worth of cargo moved through Idlewild airport. It was effectively Pauli’s airport. Whenever they needed money, they’d rob the airport. Anyone who complained twice were hit so hard, they never complained again. Henry then learns of maybe half a million dollars in cash coming in from Air France. Because of a Jewish holiday, a theft at the weekend would only be detected the following Tuesday.

The volatile Tommy is in Sonny’s bar regaling people with an anecdote and everyone’s laughing. Henry then casually calls Tommy a “funny guy”. At this, Tommy takes offence — he appears not to comprehend. He wants Henry to explain, interrogating him slightly now. He questions the use of the word “funny”. Is Henry serious? Tommy’s really upset by this and everybody at the table has fallen silent. Anthony tries defusing the tension, but Tommy slaps him down, getting still more agitated. Tommy really can’t believe his ears. Did Henry even just say that about him? Funny like a clown? He amuses him? Henry’s on the back foot now, in front of everybody. And, Tommy seems ready to kill. The mood grows more and more potent until, finally, Henry sees a glint in Tommy’s eye. He realises he’s being put on the spot by his friend the whole time and the table can breathe again at last. When Sonny then approaches Tommy to pay his $7,000 tab, the whole place erupts into laughter as Tommy sends the bar owner packing.

Tommy needs Henry to go on a double date with him, his new, Jewish girlfriend and her friend, Karen. Henry is impatient and rude to Karen throughout. He doesn’t even show up to the next date. Furious, Karen makes Tommy drive around to find Henry. He’s at the cab stand where Karen yells at him in front of everyone. Henry can’t stop thinking that she has great eyes, like Liz Taylor.

Henry covers up the Catholic crucifix he wears around his neck so Karen’s mom doesn’t see. They go out for the night. Henry can park directly outside the club and not get towed and gets VIP treatment everywhere. As the two walk through the kitchens, Henry is tipping everyone they meet along the way. In the main room of the club, a special table arrives by porter just for the two of them. Karen considers Henry an exciting guy.

Wig-seller, Morrie, owes Jimmy money. But, it’s only when Jimmy starts strangling Morrie with the phone lead does he agree to pay. Then, Henry learns that Karen has been attacked. Henry confronts the man and pistol whips him repeatedly, leaving him bloodied on the floor. He then makes Karen hide his gun somewhere, thrilling her at the thought. The couple is soon married, Henry wearing a yarmulke.

Karen’s new, extended family talks about violence, angry husbands and alcoholics all the time. When Karen asks about prison, Henry says no-one goes there unless they make themselves get caught. Karen finds herself soon normalised to the crime everywhere — seeing Henry now as an enterprising hustler. Their tight social group helps gloss over the nastier side of wiseguy life.

June 11, 1970. Queens, New York.

At Henry’s bar, a “made guy,” Billy Batts is relentlessly humiliating Tommy. Soon, Tommy’s so angry, he fetches a gun and shoots Batts in the head. Since Batts was a “made guy” of the Gambino crew, Tommy should’ve had a sit down first. When later asked about Batts’ disappearance by Pauli, Henry denies all knowledge.

While the wiseguys play cards, Spider forgets to bring Tommy his drink. Tommy humiliates Spider and even shoots him in the foot. He later reappears with his foot in plaster. When Spider calls out the violent Tommy, Spider soon lies dead.

Wife Karen visits Henry’s girlfriend Janice’s apartment and threatens her loudly over the intercom. Later, in bed, Henry must dissuade Karen from shooting him in the face. He throws her on the floor and marches off loudly hitting things.

Jimmy and Henry go to Tampa, Florida to get money from someone, even threatening to throw him into the lions’ enclosure at Tampa City Zoo. But, the man’s connected to the FBI and Jimmy and Henry get ten years in prison. Henry’s taken to prison in a limousine.

Meal times in prison were always grand events. Pauli he did the prep work, slicing the garlic so thin with a razor that it liquifies in the pan with a little oil. Vinny did the tomato sauce. Wiseguys ruled the joint. A typical bag of supplies would contain: bread, peppers and onions, salami, prosciutto, cheese, scotch, red and white wine and drugs to sell to other prisoners (while also tipping the staff). The other prisoners lived like pigs.

Karen meets Henry at the prison gates when he’s released. Henry’s family go to Pauli’s house for a lavish celebration meal. Pauli tells Henry not to get involved with drugs now he’s out. Henry continues with his Pittsburgh cocaine connections anyway. Henry makes $12,000 in just the second week trading so he enlists Tommy and Jimmy to help as the business expands.

The Lufthansa heist Morrie suggests nets Jimmy $6m. Jimmy warns all people involved not to splash out on conspicuous things. Sadly, Morrie keeps loudly pestering Jimmy for an advance.

Stacks is whacked for not hiding and wiping down the truck they used. Morrie is whacked for being a loudmouth — and his wife. Jimmy soon finds it easier to just whack people involved instead of paying them their share. The authorities were finding bodies connected with the heist everywhere for months. They found Frankie Carbone in a meat truck and it took them two days to thaw him out for the autopsy.

Jimmy and Tommy are over the moon that Tommy is getting “made” — a great honour for wiseguys. You had to be 100% Italian to be made so they could trace your ancestry right back to the old country. When Jimmy finds out that Tommy’s instead been killed — mainly because of the Batts killing — he’s furious. They even shot Tommy in the face to rule out an open coffin at the funeral.

Sunday, May 11th, 1980. Henry is worried about a helicopter following him. He takes some guns to Jimmy’s house — who won’t accept them because they won’t fit his silencers. Henry then collects his brother from hospital and leaves him stirring the meat gravy for later. Against Henry’s wishes, babysitter Lois carelessly talks on the house phone about flights and drugs. Henry collects the mixed cocaine from Sandy’s place and at 10.45pm they all sit down to eat. When Lois says she can’t fly without her lucky hat, Henry prepares to drive her over to get it. In the car, police hold Henry at gunpoint. With the police now at the door, Karen hastily cuts through bags of cocaine to flush the evidence down the toilet.

The Aftermath.

The narcs had been watching Henry’s operation for months — including phone taps and surveillance. In prison — this time without Pauli’s support — Henry’s worried he’ll be whacked. People like Pauli might think he’s gonna inform on them. Karen gets her mom to put her house up for bail.

When Henry discovers Karen flushed away $60,000 worth of cocaine — his nest egg — both lay sobbing on the floor. Pauli later hears Henry’s desperation and gives him $3,200 cash to never contact him again. If you’re part of a crew, your killer doesn’t announce himself, he’ll come as your friend. So, Henry meets Jimmy in a public place they both know. He wants Henry to go to Florida with him and Anthony to do a hit, but Henry fears for his life.

Henry and Karen consider witness protection schemes. She’s concerned she’ll never again see her parents. But, since knew about all the processing, hiding and moving about of the cocaine, she’s just as culpable as Henry. In court, when prompted, Henry points out Jimmy, and then Pauli as major criminals. In witness protection, Henry finds he must wait in line like everyone else. From his new house, he orders spaghetti and marinara sauce, but all he actually receives is egg noodles and ketchup.

Based on a true story

Starring Robert De Niro. Ray Liotta. Joe Pesci. Rated 18. Dir Martin Scorsese. Released in the UK 1990. Runtime 2hrs 26mins

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AdGridley

Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)