"Goodfellas" is based on the nonfiction book "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi, who collaborated with Scorsese on the screenplay. The book title refers to Henry Hill, who claims the mobsters in his world called themselves wiseguys or, apparently less frequently, goodfellas. But by the time Scorsese's movie was released in 1990, there had already been an unrelated television show titled "Wiseguy" that ran from 1987 to 1989. To differentiate Scorsese's film from the TV series, the rather faithful screen adaptation of Pileggi's book ended up being titled "Goodfellas."
One of my favorite sequences in "Goodfellas" is when Henry is about 21 and courting Karen, who will become his wife. He takes her to Manhattans famed Copacabana, where they bypass a long line of people waiting to get in and enter via a side door. They then take a long walk through the kitchen, during which Henry banters with Copa employees. Finally, they reach the showroom, where the maitre d' immediately has a table brought out and set up for them right in the front. I think Scorsese does a brilliant job in this sequence of showing how Henry and Karen are seduced by the special treatment that Mafia connections could get them.
The "Goodfellas" Special Edition DVD set provides two separate audio commentary tracks, and I found the one titled "The Cop and Crook" to be much the more entertaining and informative of the two. I've never heard DVD commentary quite like this, which is by the real-life Henry Hill and the real-life Ed McDonald, the assistant U.S. attorney responsible for prosecuting the criminals depicted in the film. Hill says that the character Paulie in the movie is based on one of the four captains of the Lucchese family, one of the five New York crime families. McDonald states that the federal government wasn't much involved in the war against organized crime before the late 1970s, and it wasn't until they began to focus on labor racketeering that they made much headway against the Mafia.
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