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Goodfellas or Scarface...


kingzoso

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Since I started the "Star Wars or the "Godfather" topic and it did fairly well in terms of replies, opinions and the like, I thought I would try once more about Your preference to two other "classic" movies. Of course, the "Star Wars" trilogy was the very opposite of the "Godfather" saga, but that is why I think that made it more interesting.

This new topic has more similarities than the other. Both are Crime dramas that deal with Organized Crime.

"Goodfellas" with Henry Hill and Jimmy Conway and the Lucchese crime Family in NYC involved with almost any criminal activity that made them all monies.

"Scarface" with Tony Montana and Manny Ribera and the massive Cocaine business that flooded Miami and the rest of the United States of America in the early 1980's (and still persists to this day).

I realize that one is based on fact and the other is based on a screenplay (written by Oliver Stone that was based on fact). What I want to know, is which of these two Great Movies do You prefer? Any and all answers, opinions, likes, dislikes, objectives, etc.. are welcome.

To sum up my little diatribe, which of these movies do you think is better? Remember, this is just a question and any answers are cool with me.

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There both gangster films but really not all that similar, Scarface is deliberately much more stylistic and over the top.

The classic "straight" gangster films for me are the first two Godfathers, Goodfellas, Casino and Once Upon A Time in America.

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Goodfellas.

After seeing it many times, something's starting to bug me, though. Why no consequences for DeNiro after he starts killing all his homies. "Pay 'em? It was easier to whack 'em". You know, Carbone frozen in the meat truck, etc.. Pesci gets whacked, but DeNiro pays no price...why not? Because they weren't 'made men'? They were part of the gang. I dunno, seems like a loose thread to me

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Goodfellas.

After seeing it many times, something's starting to bug me, though. Why no consequences for DeNiro after he starts killing all his homies. "Pay 'em? It was easier to whack 'em". You know, Carbone frozen in the meat truck, etc.. Pesci gets whacked, but DeNiro pays no price...why not? Because they weren't 'made men'? They were part of the gang. I dunno, seems like a loose thread to me

If memory serves -I read the Nick Pillegi book Goodfellas was based on years ago, all the names were changed to protect the guilty (as was the case in Casino)- 'Jimmy Conway' eventually got busted and died in prison. As did Big Paulie (Paul Sorvino's character). Henry Hill of course died not too long ago.

To answer the topic question, though (and forgive the long post): give me Goodfellas over Scarface any day. Personally I don't think there's any question that Goodfellas is the superior film. Goodfellas plays it absolutely straight (as far as I'm concerned it is Scorsese's masterpiece), and, as others have pointed out, you actually give a damn about the characters. They're not all mafioso gods above reproach as in The Godfather; you got to admit, Jimmy Conway aside, the Goodfellas are actually pretty reckless/careless and do stupid things- they don't always follow orders, and, as a result, pay the price. They're gangsters, but you can't help but cheer them on...or help feeling bad when Tommy (Joe Pesci) gets whacked, for example.

And that's the thing with Scarface: not only is everything so over the top (in true Oliver Stone fashion)- the language, the violence and, worst for the film, the characterizations themselves- but Tony Montana is from the get go such a discpicable, unsympathetic person that you just know that he's eventually going to get his, and it's not gonna be pretty. What's worse is that Pacino played the part like such a cartoon character that it is hard to take Tony seriously at all. Knowing the same actor played both parts, you almost get the idea that Pacino conciously portrayed Tony Montana as the anti-Michael Corleone, but went way overboard. And as most Al Pacino fans would agree, Scarface is the point where Pacino generally threw restraint out the window with his acting and began playing every part as loud (borderline obnoxious in some cases) and over the top as possible.

IMO, Goodfellas is a very 'classy' film, especially considering the subject matter, whereas Scarface is all style and no substance. I think the two other strikes against Scarface are its length (the same story could have been told just as effectively in two hours instead of three) and how it is just so fucking dated now :lol:...yes, I know it was made in 1983, but the problem is, watching it thirty years later, it looks like 1983 and only 1983. Very cheesy. There's no doubt that Scarface is a product of its time. Goodfellas is timeless in comparison, even if the story does span about 25 years. I find it amazing that Scarface is the film so emulated within modern "Gangster" culture when Goodfellas is a lot more realistic in that regard. And it's not that Scarface is a bad film -I quite enjoy it, but you have to take it for what it is...it's like the gangster film version of a mindless Hollywood action flick. The comparison of Led Zeppelin/Goodfellas to AC/DC/Scarface is pretty damned spot on.

Personally, as far as gangster films go (my favourite genre, BTW, so I dig these discussions) I think it would have been better to compare Scarface with Casino (which also has it's share of over the top moments) and arguably Goodfellas with Once Upon A Time In America...but that's just me...

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If memory serves -I read the Nick Pillegi book Goodfellas was based on years ago, all the names were changed to protect the guilty (as was the case in Casino)- 'Jimmy Conway' eventually got busted and died in prison. As did Big Paulie (Paul Sorvino's character). Henry Hill of course died not too long ago.

To answer the topic question, though (and forgive the long post): give me Goodfellas over Scarface any day. Personally I don't think there's any question that Goodfellas is the superior film. Goodfellas plays it absolutely straight (as far as I'm concerned it is Scorsese's masterpiece), and, as others have pointed out, you actually give a damn about the characters. They're not all mafioso gods above reproach as in The Godfather; you got to admit, Jimmy Conway aside, the Goodfellas are actually pretty reckless/careless and do stupid things- they don't always follow orders, and, as a result, pay the price. They're gangsters, but you can't help but cheer them on...or help feeling bad when Tommy (Joe Pesci) gets whacked, for example.

And that's the thing with Scarface: not only is everything so over the top (in true Oliver Stone fashion)- the language, the violence and, worst for the film, the characterizations themselves- but Tony Montana is from the get go such a discpicable, unsympathetic person that you just know that he's eventually going to get his, and it's not gonna be pretty. What's worse is that Pacino played the part like such a cartoon character that it is hard to take Tony seriously at all. Knowing the same actor played both parts, you almost get the idea that Pacino conciously portrayed Tony Montana as the anti-Michael Corleone, but went way overboard. And as most Al Pacino fans would agree, Scarface is the point where Pacino generally threw restraint out the window with his acting and began playing every part as loud (borderline obnoxious in some cases) and over the top as possible.

IMO, Goodfellas is a very 'classy' film, especially considering the subject matter, whereas Scarface is all style and no substance. I think the two other strikes against Scarface are its length (the same story could have been told just as effectively in two hours instead of three) and how it is just so fucking dated now :lol:...yes, I know it was made in 1983, but the problem is, watching it thirty years later, it looks like 1983 and only 1983. Very cheesy. There's no doubt that Scarface is a product of its time. Goodfellas is timeless in comparison, even if the story does span about 25 years. I find it amazing that Scarface is the film so emulated within modern "Gangster" culture when Goodfellas is a lot more realistic in that regard. And it's not that Scarface is a bad film -I quite enjoy it, but you have to take it for what it is...it's like the gangster film version of a mindless Hollywood action flick. The comparison of Led Zeppelin/Goodfellas to AC/DC/Scarface is pretty damned spot on.

Personally, as far as gangster films go (my favourite genre, BTW, so I dig these discussions) I think it would have been better to compare Scarface with Casino (which also has it's share of over the top moments) and arguably Goodfellas with Once Upon A Time In America...but that's just me...

Goddamn Nutrocker...once again, it's like you're inside my head. I could have written that post practically verbatim. So thanks for beating me to the punch and saving me the effort, haha.

So yeah, this is an even easier call than Godfather vs. Star Wars: "Goodfellas" all the way.

As for "Scarface", I'll take the original Howard Hawks/Paul Muni "Scarface" over the De Palma/Pacino remake any day, as well.

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Also a fan of the genre, but I am curious about which "over the top moments" you are speaking of in Casino?

The final scene of Scarface is as over the top a moment as any scene from Tarantino's Kill Bill films in my opinion. However in Casino, I found the entire film to be spot on in terms of what we know to be the facts about the mob's history in Las Vegas. Yes, there are some graphic and violent scenes. But nothing outside of the realm of reality.

Well, speaking for myself, I find Joe Pesci way over-the-top in "Casino"...it's like he's playing a caricature of himself from "Goodfellas", only a little more so, a little louder. Like Mick Jagger's concert performances post-1972.

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^^^

That's all well and good, but with "Casino" coming too soon after "Goodfellas" and other movies where he played similar loud-mouthed, short-tempered characters, Joe Pesci never registers as Nicky...it comes across as more like Joe Pesci playing Joe Pesci. It probably would have been better for Scorsese to cast somebody else in the roll. Probably better for Pesci, too, in the long run, for it seemed he became type-cast after making "Goodfellas" and "Casino".

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Scarface is so great because it is over the top.. And there are many great acting moments throughout the film.

Robert Loggia as Frank Lopez.. Michelle Pheifer as Elvira Hancock,

F Murray Abraham as Omar... Mama Montana, Sosa and especially Al Pacino .. are all excellent,

Also, as strider mentioned... I highly recommend you check out the 1932 original if you haven't yet.

But I agree.. Goodfellas is the much better movie.. Easily in my top 5. maybe top 3..

I'm also pretty sure Casino is based on a true story..

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Home Alone, My Cousin Vinny, JFK and Jimmy Hollywood all were all played after Goodfellas and before Casino.

Umm, yeah...that is why I wrote "coming too soon after "Goodfellas" and other movies where he played similar loud-mouthed, short-tempered characters".

Home Alone, My Cousin Vinny, JFK and Jimmy Hollywood all were all played after Goodfellas and before Casino.

I don't know how many ways an actor playing a psychotic Italian mobster with a bad temper can play that? Scorcesee might have selected another actor, but sometimes you just go with one that you know will give you the result you want. One could say the same about Di Nero; he almost always has the same mannerisms every time he plays a wiseguy character as well. Other than in Awakenings, Di Nero is always "Di Nero" to me.

Did you not enjoy Casino? I thought Scorcesse did a good enough job with this story. I don't feel the same way about The Departed however. I especially did not like the Alec Baldwin character in The Departed; way too cartoonishly SNL for me.

I blow hot-and cold on "Casino". There are parts that I think are better than anything in "Goodfellas" and the period design and look of the film is often astounding. But "Goodfellas" as a whole still resonates more with me than "Casino". There are flaws in "Goodfellas", but they aren't as numerous or as detrimental to the enjoyment of the film as the ones in "Casino".

As always, in my opinion.

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Goodfellas was based on a true story. Casino, while not based on any actual story, was losely based some mob figures, and also borrows from some already established themes about the mob connections in Las Vegas casinos. Both Goodfellas and Casino shared a common screenwriter named Nicholas Pileggi.

Pesci's character in Casino (Nicky Santoro) is deliberatly amped up in order to provide the necessary conflict for the story. Yet ironically, and as Nicky Santoro explained to Sam Rothstein (Robert Di Nero's character) in the famous scene out in the desert, that without Nicky's muscle (enforcement), guys like Sam could not even exist in Las Vegas.

It all of course comes crashing down, but in my opinion, Pesci's somewhat intense portrayal of the role was a necessary device in contrast to the character of the "all about business" Sam Rothstein. Pesci provides the constant threat of danger, while Sam's own wife ends up being the catalyst for the danger.

Not quite true, Casino was actually more factual than Goodfellas. Nicky Santoro is the true life equivalent of Anthony Spilotro and Ace Rothstein is based on Lefty Rosenthal. Believe it or not, Pesci's portrayal of the real life Spilotro was toned down...just think about that for a moment, TONED DOWN!!! People were so afraid of Spilotro that even the mob bosses were scared of this psychopath. They finally had enough of his insanity and a meeting was called in DuPage county Illinois where him and his brother were first beaten, then strangled, finally buried alive. Lefty Rosenthal went on to live a long life and died in 2008, providing most of the facts for the book and subsequent movie.

Now, as far as Goodfellas vs. Scarface, my vote goes to Goodfellas for al the above stated reasons. Never liked Scarface, I kept waiting and hoping for Tony to die a horrible, brutal death since he was such a prick.

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Well, speaking for myself, I find Joe Pesci way over-the-top in "Casino"...it's like he's playing a caricature of himself from "Goodfellas", only a little more so, a little louder. Like Mick Jagger's concert performances post-1972.

^^^

That's all well and good, but with "Casino" coming too soon after "Goodfellas" and other movies where he played similar loud-mouthed, short-tempered characters, Joe Pesci never registers as Nicky...it comes across as more like Joe Pesci playing Joe Pesci. It probably would have been better for Scorsese to cast somebody else in the roll. Probably better for Pesci, too, in the long run, for it seemed he became type-cast after making "Goodfellas" and "Casino".

Again, we are on the same page, Strider...Pesci's great, but the characters of Tommy in Goodfellas and Nicky in Casino are almost interchangable. And I do believe Joe Pesci did very little film-wise for years after Casino (and now he can be seen parodying his persona in Snickers adverts...)

One could say the same about Di Nero; he almost always has the same mannerisms every time he plays a wiseguy character as well. Other than in Awakenings, Di Nero is always "Di Nero" to me.

At some point De Niro got very repetitive when it came to his portrayal of those kind of 'tough guys'; again, a lot of his criminal characters are just about interchangable from film to film...although, having said that, I don't think anybody can play that kinda role like Robert De Niro.

I blow hot-and cold on "Casino". There are parts that I think are better than anything in "Goodfellas" and the period design and look of the film is often astounding. But "Goodfellas" as a whole still resonates more with me than "Casino". There are flaws in "Goodfellas", but they aren't as numerous or as detrimental to the enjoyment of the film as the ones in "Casino".

Casino is great, don't get me wrong, but I think a large part of the film's weakness is that Marty Scorsese -and, by extension, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci- were trying to out-Goodfellas Goodfellas, if that makes any sense. And it seems like its done in such a self conscious manner that comparisons were inevitable. Try watching them back to back and it becomes obvious, although Scorsese's seeds for that kind of filmmaking/storytelling were sown with Raging Bull. In a lot of ways Raging Bull is like a dry run for the style Scorsese would perfect in Goodfellas/Casino.

Never liked Scarface, I kept waiting and hoping for Tony to die a horrible, brutal death since he was such a prick.

Exactly the point I made...I don't think anybody should be surprised at the way Scarface ends, and not just for the "crime does not pay" message. Ultimately Tony Montana's fate is sealed because he is such a prick...even his attempt at 'redemption' -by refusing to carry out the hit on the witness because the witness' family is with him- is a case of too little too late.

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The violence in Goodfellas was brilliant and authentic. The violence in Scarface was cartoonish and gratuitious.

Call a press conference! Killing Floor and I actually agree about something. I would add that the characters in Goodfellas were fully realized human beings while the characters in Goodfellas were caricatures.

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Again, we are on the same page, Strider...Pesci's great, but the characters of Tommy in Goodfellas and Nicky in Casino are almost interchangable. And I do believe Joe Pesci did very little film-wise for years after Casino (and now he can be seen parodying his persona in Snickers adverts...)

At some point De Niro got very repetitive when it came to his portrayal of those kind of 'tough guys'; again, a lot of his criminal characters are just about interchangable from film to film...although, having said that, I don't think anybody can play that kinda role like Robert De Niro.

Casino is great, don't get me wrong, but I think a large part of the film's weakness is that Marty Scorsese -and, by extension, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci- were trying to out-Goodfellas Goodfellas, if that makes any sense. And it seems like its done in such a self conscious manner that comparisons were inevitable. Try watching them back to back and it becomes obvious, although Scorsese's seeds for that kind of filmmaking/storytelling were sown with Raging Bull. In a lot of ways Raging Bull is like a dry run for the style Scorsese would perfect in Goodfellas/Casino.

Ironically Raging Bull has the roles somewhat reversed, Pesci is the calmer thinker and De Nero is the unstable one.

The main difference I see between Goodfellas and Casino is that for better or worse the latter doesn't have a character like Ray Liotta who's "leading" the viewer into the world of the gangster. Although he's of course heavy involved Herny Hill shows us someone entertaining the world of the gangster and provides a bit more of a moral reflection, while he obviously undertakes a lot of immoral activity you get more of the sense that he's somewhat more grounded than De Niro and especially Pesci.

As I said for me Scarface is really not a very similar film to either, its more akin to someone like Tarantino or the Coens. Speaking the the latter I think my favourite gangster film is probabley Millers Crossing, again not a "straight" film like Goodfellas or the Godfathers.

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The biggest problem with Scarface, other than it is a De Palma film, was that it was written by Oliver Stone. Oliver Stone is the worst of the worst in my view. Stone treats his projects like some horrible circus side show.

If Oliver Stone ever wrote a remake of The Wizard of Oz, a lesbian Dorothy would have run away after being raped by her uncle and his friends and taken up with a crackhead scarecrow who eventually sells her into prostitution to the Wizard for a dime bag of rock. Other scenes would include: sodomizing flying monkeys raping the lion; Tin Man bites the tounge off the Mayor of Munchkinland, and the Wicked Witch is the hero who killed Richard Nixon and his entire family.

Oh God, I hope I haven't given Stone any ideas.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I can see it now: Natural Born Wizards.

If Stone could keep sociopolitics out of every goddamn project he undertakes and takes the fucking tinfoil hat off every once in a while, maybe -just maybe- he'd be able to make a film the masses could appreciate. Mind ya, his last one didn't have any of that shit -the one about the the wannabe drug dealers involved in a threesome- but my Christ it was an awful film just the same...

Ah, thank you, Wikipedia: Savages. Terrible fuckin' movie- avoid it at all costs!

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Scorsese loves to use the period rock & roll, and sometimes it can be effective, but I thought the use of Layla after the murder in the Cadillac didn't work at all. But ya gotta go with Goodfellas for one simple reason: One of the most famous scenes in movie history - Joe Pesci: "What, I'm a clown? I make you laugh? WHAT"S SO FUCKING FUNNY ABOUT ME?!!" :D

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The biggest problem with Scarface, other than it is a De Palma film, was that it was written by Oliver Stone. Oliver Stone is the worst of the worst in my view. Stone treats his projects like some horrible circus side show.

If Oliver Stone ever wrote a remake of The Wizard of Oz, a lesbian Dorothy would have run away after being raped by her uncle and his friends and taken up with a crackhead scarecrow who eventually sells her into prostitution to the Wizard for a dime bag of rock. Other scenes would include: sodomizing flying monkeys raping the lion; Tin Man bites the tounge off the Mayor of Munchkinland, and the Wicked Witch is the hero who killed Richard Nixon and his entire family.

Oh God, I hope I haven't given Stone any ideas.

Stone does have his faults but I think he did a good job with Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, two excellent movies.

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Stone does have his faults but I think he did a good job with Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, two excellent movies.

+ JFK, Wall Street and Any Given Sunday.. all excellent.

I consider Scarface more of a Brian DePalma film..

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Stones "faults" are that he is a fucking pile of shit. The man has excuses for just about every monster that ever lived. Excuses for Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Afafat and that other fuck over in Iran.

Sorry, but I have no excuses for Oliver Stone. I hate his films.

Ok, we get you don't exactly wish to have tea with the man, but what are your honest, impartial opinions of Platoon, Wall Street, and Born on the Fourth of July? Three of his more mainstream, less controversial films?

I like to think I am a pretty impartial kind of guy, for example I think John Ford & John Wayne were chickenhawk pieces of shit that had no compunction of sending others to die while staying warm and safe back home, however I really like their movies. You can hate the man yet love his movies. Another one, Leni Riefensthal, amazing cinematographer but a real moral cesspool. Thank god for her contribution, but I would not piss on her if she were on fire. Well, she is dead now so it really does not matter.

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Ok, we get you don't exactly wish to have tea with the man, but what are your honest, impartial opinions of Platoon, Wall Street, and Born on the Fourth of July? Three of his more mainstream, less controversial films?

I like to think I am a pretty impartial kind of guy, for example I think John Ford & John Wayne were chickenhawk pieces of shit that had no compunction of sending others to die while staying warm and safe back home, however I really like their movies. You can hate the man yet love his movies. Another one, Leni Riefensthal, amazing cinematographer but a real moral cesspool. Thank god for her contribution, but I would not piss on her if she were on fire. Well, she is dead now so it really does not matter.

I do not want to start a war (of words or opinions), but what does Leni Riefensthal (and for that matter, John Wayne and John Ford) have anything to do with "Goodfellas" and/or "Scarface"? Absolutely nothing.

I know who she is because I read a lot about Nazi Germany and the Third Reich. I do not have to "Google" her name to know who she was.

I mean no offense to anyone, but could WE at least try, for once, to stick to the Topic at Hand?

In that sense, I would have to say that I prefer "Goodfellas" over "Scarface" because Bobby De Niro is my all-time favorite actor and Marty Scorsese is my favorite director. However, Al Pacino is my second favorite actor and I do like a lot of Brian De Palma films.

As much as some have said that "Scarface" is dated and over the top, I still think that it is a Great movie. No one's opinion or bias will ever change my mind about how I feel about "Scarface".

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Stones "faults" are that he is a fucking pile of shit. The man has excuses for just about every monster that ever lived. Excuses for Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Afafat and that other fuck over in Iran.

Sorry, but I have no excuses for Oliver Stone. I hate his films.

We get it. You don't like his politics. But what about the ARTISTIC merit of his films?

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