Music of GOODFELLAS
For this new series on FC, we’ll be looking at, or to be more precise, listening to, scores from some of our favorite furious movies to see how they tie into the scenes they are played over. Some of these installments may be just a brief basic review with a track featured in the film, or we might post cues from certain sequences that we’d like to examine a bit further. Check out our first post on Brian DePalma’s The Fury.
Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film GoodFellas is a masterpiece of cinema storytelling. It was the perfect kind of subject matter for him to work with since he had a personal knowledge of how the world of the mafia worked. He also knew what the people were about, who they were both as violent criminals and as his friendly next door neighbors.
Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, the film tells the story of mobster Henry Hill who was a member of the Lucchese crime family. The movie is narrated by Hill (Ray Liotta) who acts as a kind of streetcorner storyteller that ushers the viewer into his glamorous world, taking us on a guided journey through the highs and lows of that exciting but extremely violent lifestyle.
Why I can rewatch this movie again and again, year after year (I’ve seen it more than 100 times, no lie) is just one of those things I can only attribute to the magic that was created by the cast and crew of the movie with Martin Scorsese as the maestro conducting the show. Last but certainly not least is his editor Thelma Schoonmaker who must be commended for helping create such a magnificent, timeless work of cinematic art.
The following songs are all part of a standout section in GoodFellas near the end of the story where Henry Hill, who is full of cocaine sets off to do some daily errands before sending his drug transporter Lois (Welker White) on a plane flight later that night. What occurs is a whirlwind of action. Henry jumps in his car and runs around Long Island, NY non stop. As he snorts more coke, it sets off a paranoia in the form of police helicopters he thinks are on his tail. Henry doesn’t know if this just a delusion from the drugs or reality.
To emphasize the mindspace Henry is operating in, Scorsese and his editor Thelma Schoonmaker mix fast paced cutting with a mind jolting mashup of classic rock and blues music which not only drives the action onscreen, but also gives the feeling of being out of control, skating on the edge. So in effect you’re rocking out with the tunes but at the same time watching Henry careening on the precipise of disaster which you know is coming somewhere down the line for him. This is easily one of my favorite sequences in cinema and one of Scorsese’s best edited pieces of film.
I could go on and on about this movie and it’s one I’d happily write a 20 page paper about but for now, let’s enjoy these great tracks featured in the film!
Harry Nilsson: Jump Into The Fire
Mick Jagger featuring Ry Cooder: Memo From Turner (from the film Performance)
The Who: Magic Bus
Muddy Waters: Mannish Boy
George Harrison: What Is Life
The Rolling Stones: Monkey Man