Viewed today, perhaps the most impressive thing about Martin Scorsese’s electric mob picture “Goodfellas” is still its pace. This is one of the most relentless films of all time, and we mean that in the best possible way. “Goodfellas,” the story of the rise and fall of Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill, shoots like a beam of lightning cocaine through three decades of life in the mafia, chronicling the dizzying highs and gory lows of a gang of self-made “wiseguys” whose only dreams were to get as rich as possible, as fast as possible. The film is a recollection, sure, with its protagonist fondly recalling all the cars he used to boost, the heists he used to pull, and most certainly all the drugs he used to sell, inhale, and flush down the toilet. But for a two-and-a-half-hour cinematic nostalgia trip, it’s a furious one.
Scorsese has made movies in this wheelhouse before — both “Casino” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” follow similar trajectories, replete with ample doses of voiceover, graphic violence, mordant comedy, and period-appropriate rock music — but “Goodfellas” remains the zenith of this particular brand of filmmaking. JoBlo.com has recently issued a short but sweet compressed version of Scorsese’s 1990 classic, one that takes the already fast-paced gangster epic and boils it down even further.
Scorsese famously remarked that he wanted the pace and tone of “Goodfellas” to resemble the opening two or three minutes of Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim”: extensive narration, jagged editing, freeze frames, and an unrelenting, ebullient, curiously nonjudgmental tone. If that’s his goal, he succeeded with flying colors. The main difference is that Truffaut’s film eventually settles into a warm, wistful elegy about lost love after its shot-out-of-the-cannon opening, while Scorsese refuses to let the pace slacken for the remainder of his movie. I would argue that you should go ahead and watch the whole movie if you haven’t already, but the clip from JoBlo is a fun “greatest hits” kind of reel for what might be Scorsese’s most rollicking, purely pleasurable movie. The famous Billy Batts scene, the grandiose use of “And He Kissed Me” to bring us into the Copacabana Club, even the infomercial for Maury’s Wigs… it’s all there. It’s a terrific reminder, not that one was necessarily needed, that Mr. Scorsese is one of our more kinetic filmmakers and that he knows how to entertain like few others in the business.
Watch the six-minute clip below.