Good Fellas thirty years

Goodfellas is a study of narcissism. From the very beginning, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) always wanted to be a gangster and even at the end, when he is forced to go into the Witness protection program; he doesn’t regret his life or show any remorse.

There is nothing glamorous about the mob and while Hill loves the good life that the mob provides, he seems oblivious to how he makes his living. He considers those of us who makes a honest living suckers and feels that the world is for the taking. Might makes right in Hill’s world.

Hill’s world lacks both morality and loyalty. The “wise guys” don’t pay for anything and it is as if the world owes them a living. From the very beginning when Hill was young, he noticed that the local wise guys do anything they want and no one bothers them. It is as if they are law upon themselves with the rest of us cut off from their world. Hills become a protégé of Jim Conway (Robert De Niro); a man who steals for it is what he likes to do and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), a loose cannon with a temper that is often unleashed.

What we don’t see is loyalty, despite talk of loyalty. Instead we see men looking over their shoulders, waiting for that moment when they are the ones to be “whacked.” No one is immune, including one of the three close buddies, snuffed because of an incident years earlier.

Conway may be Hill’s mentor but he is also devoid of both loyalty and morality. After the JFK airport heist, he begins the process of killing his own crew to ensure that he is not nailed by the cops and allows him to keep a larger share. And the three friends profit from cocaine sales from one of Henry Hill’s connections without paying their dues to Paul Cicero, the boss.

Pesci is perfect as Tommy DeVito, as he plays De Vito, a man with a temper that can’t be controlled and Robert De Niro’s Jim Conway is a deft operator who can get others to follow but doesn’t reward those who follow with his loyalty. For the calculating Conway, all are indispensable as Hill finds out late in the game.

Hill testifies against his friends to save his life and that of his family, but he learns nothing from his experience. Both he and his wife are seduced by the life for they got everything they wanted. They got the nice house, the furs, the big cars and the jewelry’s. In the end, he is thrust in a life with the rest of the civilian world. It is the price paid to survive but Hill misses the old life.

Goodfellas is a study of narcissism of the modern criminal mind, men who have to divorce morality and any sense of right or wrong to survive. Any mercy shown could backfire and in the end, even close friends can become enemies.

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