October 9, 2003

Viewer Discretion Advised

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This Fall has left me with an empty feeling that I just can’t shake. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s my inability to get into the bars, but something is different between this autumn and my previous two at college. The truth is, this is my first semester at college without The Sopranos, and I’m in need of a quick mafia fix. After watching every episode multiple times and even doing a term paper on the series, I think I would qualify as a loyal fan, and one who is incredibly dismayed at HBO’s projected February premier date for the fifth and final season. In the meantime, here is my prescription for those of you who can’t go long without a broken finger or an execution. All of the movies below feature actors or actresses from our beloved series, though most of them had yet to hit the big time.

The Godfather, I & II

Well since The Sopranos is my favorite TV show, it stands to reason that Godfather is my favorite movie of all time. There isn’t much I can say about these movies that hasn’t already been said, except that if you haven’t seen them both, you are doing yourself a great injustices. Part II is my personal favorite, but Part I sits at #3 on the AFI’s list of 100 greatest films. It’s a tough choice between Marlon Brando or Robert DeNiro as the infamous Don Corleone, but both films feature stellar performances by Al Pacino and complex plots that demand repeat viewing. For those interested in Part III, my advice is not to bother, you’ll only be disappointed after the first two.

The Public Enemy

James Cagney delivers an amazing performance in his first role as the menacing Tom Powers, a prohibition-era gangster in Chicago. This film defined the genre, and ends with a warning about the rise of organized crime in society written on the screen. Without question this film is an important vewing for any fan of gangster movies.


Director Martin Scorcese’s beautifully shot flick follows the rise and fall of Henry Hill, a mafia henchman turned federal informant who experiences all of the ups and downs of life in the mob. Robert DeNiro steals every scene as the charming Jimmy “The Gent” Conway, and Joe Pesci won an Oscar playing Tommy DeVito, a diminutive button man with a shorter fuse. The film’s soundtrack is especially captivating, as the music enhances every scene and adds to the painstaking detail used to capture every era from the ’60s through the ’80s. This film is not quite up to Raging Bull or Taxi Driver, but is still some of Scorcese’s best work.


In addition to having one of the hottest scenes in cinema history, Bound is also a great film and one of the best mafia pictures made in recent memory. Joe Pantoliano, also known as Ralphie, delivers a great turn as Caesar, a sleazy mob henchman with a lesbian mistress, the sultry Violet (Jennifer Tilly). Gina Gershon is convincing as Corky, Violet’s lover and co-conspirator. The film is well-written, inventive and looks great, making it the best effort yet from the Wachowski Brothers. Be sure and check it out, but make sure there aren’t any kids in the room.

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh