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Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas

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For the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere comes the vivid and immersive history behind Martin Scorsese's signature film Goodfellas , hailed by critics as the greatest mob movie ever made. When Goodfellas first hit the theatres in 1990, a classic was born. Few could anticipate the unparalleled influence it would have on pop culture, one that would inspire future gener For the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere comes the vivid and immersive history behind Martin Scorsese's signature film Goodfellas , hailed by critics as the greatest mob movie ever made. When Goodfellas first hit the theatres in 1990, a classic was born. Few could anticipate the unparalleled influence it would have on pop culture, one that would inspire future generations of filmmakers and redefine the gangster picture as we know it today. From the rush of grotesque violence in the opening scene to the iconic hilarity of Joe Pesci's endlessly quoted "Funny how?" shtick, it's little wonder the film is widely regarded as a mainstay in contemporary cinema. In the first ever behind-the-scenes story of Goodfellas, film critic Glenn Kenny chronicles the making and afterlife of the film that introduced America to the real modern gangster--brutal, ruthless, yet darkly appealing, the villain we can't get enough of. Featuring interviews with the film's major players, such as Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Made Men shines a light on the lives and stories wrapped up in the Goodfellas universe, and why its enduring legacy is still essential to charting the trajectory of American culture thirty years later.


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For the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere comes the vivid and immersive history behind Martin Scorsese's signature film Goodfellas , hailed by critics as the greatest mob movie ever made. When Goodfellas first hit the theatres in 1990, a classic was born. Few could anticipate the unparalleled influence it would have on pop culture, one that would inspire future gener For the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere comes the vivid and immersive history behind Martin Scorsese's signature film Goodfellas , hailed by critics as the greatest mob movie ever made. When Goodfellas first hit the theatres in 1990, a classic was born. Few could anticipate the unparalleled influence it would have on pop culture, one that would inspire future generations of filmmakers and redefine the gangster picture as we know it today. From the rush of grotesque violence in the opening scene to the iconic hilarity of Joe Pesci's endlessly quoted "Funny how?" shtick, it's little wonder the film is widely regarded as a mainstay in contemporary cinema. In the first ever behind-the-scenes story of Goodfellas, film critic Glenn Kenny chronicles the making and afterlife of the film that introduced America to the real modern gangster--brutal, ruthless, yet darkly appealing, the villain we can't get enough of. Featuring interviews with the film's major players, such as Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Made Men shines a light on the lives and stories wrapped up in the Goodfellas universe, and why its enduring legacy is still essential to charting the trajectory of American culture thirty years later.

30 review for Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    "As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster." -- the film's opening narration I think Goodfellas is a great film, one of the those involving crime dramas from the early 90's that ushered in the decade with its unanticipated blasts of graphic violence amidst some profanely quotable dialogue and a unique soundtrack. Arguably, it should've taken home the Best Picture honors at the 1991 Academy Awards instead of Dances With Wolves (although, to be fair, that was also a pretty good "As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster." -- the film's opening narration I think Goodfellas is a great film, one of the those involving crime dramas from the early 90's that ushered in the decade with its unanticipated blasts of graphic violence amidst some profanely quotable dialogue and a unique soundtrack. Arguably, it should've taken home the Best Picture honors at the 1991 Academy Awards instead of Dances With Wolves (although, to be fair, that was also a pretty good film), which would've been a cherry on top of the Cadillac trunk full of both critical and fan acclaim - however, it was only a moderate box office success - it received around the world. I'm familiar with author Kenny's solid prior work in his days as an entertainment journalist for (the now-defunct) Premiere and Entertainment Weekly magazines. He's certainly a good writer, and knows how to make a topic readable and keep a good pace. But, curiously, his Made Men felt both bloated and lacking in some detail at the same time. For the former, it was the monster fourth chapter - at 162 pages (!), nearly half of the book is Kenny chronologically recounting all of the scenes in the movie. Also, it seemed like too much time was spent discussing the real-life Henry Hill minutiae when readers should really just get a copy of Nicholas Pileggi's excellent Wiseguy instead, which was used as a basis for the screenplay. As for the latter issue, Kenny scored an interview with Robert DeNiro but he's usually a tight-lipped and vague sort of guy. (Joe Pesci is known to be interview-adverse, so it's not surprising that he's not represented . . . but then neither is Ray Liotta or Lorraine Bracco. The potential input from that duo is sadly missed here.) The book concludes with a 20+ page interview with director Martin Scorcese, which rambled on and did not add much to the overall content. So what WAS good about it? When Kenny focused on some supporting performers (a mix of actual figures from the criminal underworld and other non-actor types) and/or members of the production crew things were more interesting with their various detailed recollections.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    If you love movies and don’t read this book you’ll live the rest of your life as a regular schnook.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Peterhans

    "Freddie No Nose’s nickname is given no explanation, and it wants one, as the character, who’s sitting at the bar behind the alcove, has an entire nose." I don't really like gangster stories. It's the implied coolness that quite a lot of people seem to buy into that rubs me the wrong way - which is unfair to many authors who try to paint a more complex portrait of these thugs and murderers. One of those authors is undoubtedly Martin Scorcese - his goal never seems to be to show the gangster lifes "Freddie No Nose’s nickname is given no explanation, and it wants one, as the character, who’s sitting at the bar behind the alcove, has an entire nose." I don't really like gangster stories. It's the implied coolness that quite a lot of people seem to buy into that rubs me the wrong way - which is unfair to many authors who try to paint a more complex portrait of these thugs and murderers. One of those authors is undoubtedly Martin Scorcese - his goal never seems to be to show the gangster lifestyle as it is, a life where you move from rush to rush, but ultimately ending in violent death. And so we come to Goodfellas, which is an undeniably great film, and a full on gangster film to boot. And we come to this book, which is a detailed dive into the production story of the film - from initial conception to the forming of the script, the casting, the shooting, the editing, how music was used, and finally the release of the film and its legacy. Much like Goodfellas, the book is a full on affair - the author retells pretty much the movie, taking extra time for the more impressive and important scenes. If you ever wanted to know who all the real crooks were that appeared in the background or in bit parts, this is the book for you. This is selling the book horribly short - it's a fascinating journey through the production process, written quite wittily (there are some little sidebarbs towards President nr. 45, which land particularly well). It's clear that Glenn Kenny has had teriffic access to people who have worked on the film, including Robert De Niro and Scorcese himself (although the stories from actors in smaller parts are more fun), and access to production materials (De Niro's shooting script with scribbled acting notes, jumps to my mind). It's a lot, and most of it is fascinating. Still don't know why Freddie No Nose has a nose, though. (Kindly received a review copy from Hanover Square Press through Edelweiss)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joe Meyers

    Everything you would ever want to know about the great 1990 Martin Scorsese picture - and more. Kenny covers the project from the publication of the Nicholas Pileggi source material book ‘Wiseguy’ through the production of the film, the turbulent test screenings and then the critical reaction. The author also digs into Henry Hill’s life after the movie about him opened and then all of the various spin-off books. Wearing his New York Times film critic’s hat, Kenny places the film in the context of t Everything you would ever want to know about the great 1990 Martin Scorsese picture - and more. Kenny covers the project from the publication of the Nicholas Pileggi source material book ‘Wiseguy’ through the production of the film, the turbulent test screenings and then the critical reaction. The author also digs into Henry Hill’s life after the movie about him opened and then all of the various spin-off books. Wearing his New York Times film critic’s hat, Kenny places the film in the context of the long history of Hollywood gangster movies and the ties to the subsequent HBO series The Sopranos.’ The writer shows us how the various producers on a successful film each have a different view of how it came to be and who deserves the most credit. The book ends with a long and candid interview with Scorsese who details his creation of the classic as well as how it fits into his career. Fans of the film will be on Cloud 9 from start to finish. One of the great modern Hollywood movie books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Author Annabelle Leigha

    Meh.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a very strange book. Over fifty percent of it - and I’m not exaggerating - is the author summarising the plot. The entire middle section is a plot summary, and then the author will occasionally chime in with a bit of trivia, or a quote from an interview he had with a background character. There’s no real analysis, except for the author explaining the subtext of a scene, which is obvious to anyone who just watches the film, or, bizarrely, reminding us that the racism in the film is bad, a This is a very strange book. Over fifty percent of it - and I’m not exaggerating - is the author summarising the plot. The entire middle section is a plot summary, and then the author will occasionally chime in with a bit of trivia, or a quote from an interview he had with a background character. There’s no real analysis, except for the author explaining the subtext of a scene, which is obvious to anyone who just watches the film, or, bizarrely, reminding us that the racism in the film is bad, and the characters are bad for being racist, and that racism is bad generally - yes... we know! (I was unsurprised to see the author prominently display his Twitter handle in his author’s bio). The summarising reminded me of when I was an undergrad. If I had to write an analysis of a book and I was pressed for time, I avoided much actual analysis and instead summarised the book’s plot in fancy language to fill out the word count, while sprinkling in some half-baked “analysis” here and there. The most interesting information in the book is drawn from other books/writers. You will notice every interesting fact about the production is drawn either from GQ’s 2010 Oral History of Goodfellas, or David Thompson’s interview with Scorsese in Faber’s “Scorsese on Scorsese”. It starts to get awkward as you notice everything interesting is sourced from that article and that book.... Why not just read those instead? The author of this book brings no real new information, aside from some interviews with some of the films “B-Players) (i.e an interview with the actor who plays Henry’s little brother). In the end, this book feels like a weird appendix to that article and that book - in spite of the fact that this book is more expensive than the former and longer than the latter. The weirdest thing about this book was the fact that, aside from interviewing some “B-players” (which were fine, but hardly enough to make for an interesting book) and a new interview with Scorsese at the end, virtually everything in this book could have been constructed by Googling things about Goodfellas on the internet. Almost everything is culled from sources readily available online for free: on IMDB trivia pages, the GQ History, the Wikipedia page for the film and the books it is based on, the Wikipedia pages for the songs used in the film, etc. It’s like you’re not really reading an original book, but a curated experience of researching Goodfellas on the internet - the author has saved you the time of all that Googling, of all those tabs open. But isn’t this inevitable for a book about a movie production in the age of the internet? Aren’t all sources nowadays ultimately going to already be accessible on the internet? No! Recently, Sam Wasson wrote about the making of Chinatown. His lively style and historical analysis managed to create a vivid, compelling narrative about the central personalities involved, while also providing a comprehensive overview of the production, while also introducing new, totally unheard of information about the film (i.e Edward Taylor being Robert Towne’s secret co-writer for most of his career). Similarly, Michael Benson’s great recent book on the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey offers the most comprehensive look at the production of the film to date, full of new information, while also depicting a compelling narrative about the creative process of two geniuses collaborating. It’s unclear whether the author of this book couldn’t find an interesting story as with Wasson and Benson’s books (which is fair - not every film production is going to be as interesting as those of Chinatown and 2001), or if he just wasn’t sufficiently bothered to find the story. It ends with an interview with Scorsese, and it’s the best thing in the book by far. So why not just read David Thompson’s interview book instead? As a final note, I have no idea why the author of this book wrote it in the first person. Weird.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ross Maclean

    Genuinely insightful in all aspects of the film, from inspiration and adaptation to the meat and potatoes of getting it onscreen. The level of detail about the smallest aspect is glorious and Kenny’s access to many of the major players is admirable. Context is, of course, necessary but occasional protracted side-steps to discuss other Scorsese films lead down blind alleys and hamper momentum when you just want to get back to the matter at hand. The overall structure is nicely balanced (with the Genuinely insightful in all aspects of the film, from inspiration and adaptation to the meat and potatoes of getting it onscreen. The level of detail about the smallest aspect is glorious and Kenny’s access to many of the major players is admirable. Context is, of course, necessary but occasional protracted side-steps to discuss other Scorsese films lead down blind alleys and hamper momentum when you just want to get back to the matter at hand. The overall structure is nicely balanced (with the majority devoted to a scene-by-scene breakdown of the film, covering various and exhaustive aspects of said scene) but sometimes leads to repetitiveness when the same ground is covered in separate chapters. More than just a making-of; it wrangles real life (both the inspiration for the film and behind-the-scenes of the film) and analysis of what we finally see before us and how it got there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jack Herbert Christal Gattanella

    Not simply a "making of" of the film, which is maybe the for my money the Great American Film that explores with the fullest vigor of what cinematic art has to offer the life of being "somebody" in a completely corrupted world (so you know... The American Dream in all its horror but probably accurate approach, in its darkest and angriest and most provocative form) - it's also Kenny crafting a full-throated biography of DOZENS of people involved in its making, from the many many actors and, somet Not simply a "making of" of the film, which is maybe the for my money the Great American Film that explores with the fullest vigor of what cinematic art has to offer the life of being "somebody" in a completely corrupted world (so you know... The American Dream in all its horror but probably accurate approach, in its darkest and angriest and most provocative form) - it's also Kenny crafting a full-throated biography of DOZENS of people involved in its making, from the many many actors and, sometimes, "non professional" actors who somehow got to be a part of film history (whether they had unsavory backgrounds or not) to the music artists and musicians who crafted the songs that Scorsese iconically used in needle drop style and everybody in between. You want the process? Kenny got to see De Niro's notated script. You want details about everybody in that one outstanding shot - not *that* one (though the story behind making the Copacabana entrance shot is mind blowing in the "oh thats how they did it' way that you wouldn't expect) the one where Henry introduces us to the crew at the Bamboo lounge - you got em. Kenny rightfully at one point compares the speaking parts in the film to Casablanca: nobody is a "minor" speaking part, and they all have a story leading up to how they appeared in the film. This is excellent historical recounting and recollecting - Kenny isn't working blind at all and has a wealth of sources to draw from, but at the same time he also ends up getting unfathomally valuable interviews with some people like Ed McDonald, the ex FBI man who got Hill into witness protection, and one of Hill's siblings willing to talk on the record. And of course there's the whole delightful side bar about Nora Ephron (at the time Pileggi's wife) who also got to know Henry Hill and how much that influenced her script for My Blue Heaven... Which beat Goodfellas to theaters by a month! Oh, and by the way, did you know there were not one but *two* more films made (for TV) about the Lufhtansa heist? I need to see those asap in all their likely shitty glory. It's not a perfect book, and some dates and little details Kenny gets wrong, but I can forgive all that for the wealth of detail and great storytelling here. I cant get enough of reading about Scorsese, and this gave me even more than I expected; not all of it flattering but nothing bad, he comes off as the ultimate consummate passionate artist. I couldn't put it down.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gareth

    Everything you might want to know about Goodfellas is related in witty detail in Glenn Kenny’s Made Men. In the middle is a shot-by-shot deconstruction of the movie that reads like a great audio commentary not constrained by such inconveniences as the scene changing. Kenny also covers the tribulations in getting it made; the seemingly endless music choices and their relation to the material; other films and TV movies made about these characters; a spirited guide to all the Wiseguy-adjacent books Everything you might want to know about Goodfellas is related in witty detail in Glenn Kenny’s Made Men. In the middle is a shot-by-shot deconstruction of the movie that reads like a great audio commentary not constrained by such inconveniences as the scene changing. Kenny also covers the tribulations in getting it made; the seemingly endless music choices and their relation to the material; other films and TV movies made about these characters; a spirited guide to all the Wiseguy-adjacent books out there, including cookbooks; and an overview of Scorcese’s filmmaking journey from Goodfellas to The Irishman. There’s also something of a reassessment of Henry Hill, criminal turned raconteur and well, sometimes criminal again. Kenny is just as incisive about the other critical and creative voices surrounding Goodfellas. The wealth of interview material includes all the key players, clearly generous with their time. The most resounding impressions are left by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, producer and Scorsese ex-wife Barbara De Fino and the filmmaker himself. So armed, Made Men presents a solid overview of Scorcese’s career that despite its wealth of information races along like, well, Goodfellas.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Just in time for the flick's 30th birthday, an examination of the real-life influences, production, and enduring legacy of Martin Scorsese's gangster epic. Full disclosure--Goodfellas is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I got a lot out of it. Fascinating stuff, especially for fans of the film. The only thing keeping this from the fifth star was that it drags in a couple places--the chapter about soundtrack selections, or even Just in time for the flick's 30th birthday, an examination of the real-life influences, production, and enduring legacy of Martin Scorsese's gangster epic. Full disclosure--Goodfellas is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I got a lot out of it. Fascinating stuff, especially for fans of the film. The only thing keeping this from the fifth star was that it drags in a couple places--the chapter about soundtrack selections, or even

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Bleasdale

    Any fan of the movie will find a lot of new stuff in this detailed account. Also good on how it all fits in Scorsese’s career. Kenny is a superb writer and an attentive critic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    I never really bought the idea that Goodfellas was a classic on the level of THE GODFATHER, or even A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. To me it always felt like torture porn mixed with cheap nostalgia. Still, this book is filled with fascinating facts and makes you relive the movie experience in a very pleasurable way. And the chapter called "All the Songs" makes it possible to really enjoy the music of the Crystals without visualizing guys getting stabbed and shot and choked and dismembered in the background. I never really bought the idea that Goodfellas was a classic on the level of THE GODFATHER, or even A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. To me it always felt like torture porn mixed with cheap nostalgia. Still, this book is filled with fascinating facts and makes you relive the movie experience in a very pleasurable way. And the chapter called "All the Songs" makes it possible to really enjoy the music of the Crystals without visualizing guys getting stabbed and shot and choked and dismembered in the background.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevidently

    Very good. I love the author’s digressions to discuss Scorsese’s other work, and the other work of those involved. Goodfellas as pretty much a perfect film, and this book delves as deep into the process of its construction than any other piece I’ve seen.

  14. 5 out of 5

    =^.^= Janet

    When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I AM BORED!!) ANd it is too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGal When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I AM BORED!!) ANd it is too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. For the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere comes the vivid and immersive history behind Martin Scorsese’s signature film Goodfellas, hailed by critics as the greatest mob movie ever made. When Goodfellas first hit the theatres in 1990, a classic was born. Few could anticipate the unparalleled influence it would have on pop culture, one that would inspire future filmmakers and redefine the gangster picture as we know it today. From the rush of grotesque violence in the opening scene to the iconic hilarity of Joe Pesci’s endlessly quoted “Funny how?” shtick, it’s little wonder the film is widely regarded as a mainstay in contemporary cinema. In the first-ever behind-the-scenes story of Goodfellas, film critic Glenn Kenny chronicles the making and afterlife of the film that introduced America to the real modern gangster—brutal, ruthless, yet darkly appealing, the villain we can’t get enough of. Featuring interviews with the film’s major players, including Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Made Men shines a light on the lives and stories wrapped up in the Goodfellas universe, and why its enduring legacy is still essential to chart the trajectory of American culture thirty years later. One thing that I love about "Goodfellas" is how it resonates decades later: the little-seen 2013 movie "The Family" stars Robert De Niro as an on-the-run/in Witness Protection mobster who hosts a movie night in the mall French village they are living in. What movie does is watched? A mob movie --- and not just any mob movie - it was "Goodfellas" starring Robert De Niro...I love ULTIMATE inside jokes, especially when it is a double-whammy! It seems hard to believe that it has been 30 years since the movie came out - and it was fascinating to read about how essential it is to the change in American culture. Goodfellas made a lot of things take root: what would reality tv be without "Mob Wives" or "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"? (oooh, snarky comment .. do you think I am funny? Funny how?) The book has been expertly researched and is written in a style that would appeal to fans of movies, culture or a patron/someone looking for a good read about pop culture and/or a beloved movie. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🔫🔫🔫🔫

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    “Made Men: The Story of ‘Goodfellas’”, by Glenn Kenney, is exactly what the subtitle says it is. Kenney has written a book about the movie, the book, and the lives - both real and fictional - behind the story. The movie, “Goodfellas”, directed by famed director Martin Scorsese, was taken from the book, “Wiseguys”, by Nicholas Pillegi. Both were the story of Italian-Irish gangster, Henry Hill, and his “families”, (criminal and relative). I’m not reviewing the book or the movie, but rather the book “Made Men: The Story of ‘Goodfellas’”, by Glenn Kenney, is exactly what the subtitle says it is. Kenney has written a book about the movie, the book, and the lives - both real and fictional - behind the story. The movie, “Goodfellas”, directed by famed director Martin Scorsese, was taken from the book, “Wiseguys”, by Nicholas Pillegi. Both were the story of Italian-Irish gangster, Henry Hill, and his “families”, (criminal and relative). I’m not reviewing the book or the movie, but rather the book, “Made Men”, which is mainly about the making of the movie, “Goodfellas”. (To make it even more confusing, there IS another movie called “Wiseguys”, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Danny Devito). Anyway, I love books about movies almost as much as movies themselves. Julie Salomon’s book, “The Devil’s Candy”, was a genius look at the making of Brian De Palma’s movie, “Bonfire of the Vanities”. And Glenn Kenney has done a masterful job at beginning with Scorsese and how he and his film crew put the movie together. Of course, he begins with the actors and the figures they’re portraying. Kenney is a low key writer and he somehow manages to include history and movie making in his book. He writes the story of the movie by using the spoken narrative by Henry Hill and his wife, Karen. He also pays particular attention to the music Scorsese uses in the film. It’s a great book for people who love movies in general, and “Goodfellas” in particular.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

    A handful of errors (a couple in one sentence: writing that "Smooth Criminal" was on Michael Jackson's Thriller and saying that album came out in 1984) lend this very enjoyable, pleasantly opinionated and generally loose volume a rushed feel. It ends up reading like a year's worth of detailed blog entries compiled with a last-minute addition: an interview with Scorsese that comes across more as transcript than as conversation. These things I mean as compliments, though. When reading about famili A handful of errors (a couple in one sentence: writing that "Smooth Criminal" was on Michael Jackson's Thriller and saying that album came out in 1984) lend this very enjoyable, pleasantly opinionated and generally loose volume a rushed feel. It ends up reading like a year's worth of detailed blog entries compiled with a last-minute addition: an interview with Scorsese that comes across more as transcript than as conversation. These things I mean as compliments, though. When reading about familiar movies like this one, I'd rather gulp down a commentary-track-as-book such as this than put something more eggheaded on the shelf for occasional consultation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barry Hammond

    Glenn Kenny, a distinguished film critic, has written the definitive account of the making of Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas," with background on the writing of the book on which it was based, the lives of the real life gangster Henry Hill, journalist Nicholas Pileggi, the film-makers, actors, producers, technicians and so on who contributed. He also recounts its reception, how it influenced pop culture and other films and how it's cachet has continued to build ever since. He also looks at Scorse Glenn Kenny, a distinguished film critic, has written the definitive account of the making of Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas," with background on the writing of the book on which it was based, the lives of the real life gangster Henry Hill, journalist Nicholas Pileggi, the film-makers, actors, producers, technicians and so on who contributed. He also recounts its reception, how it influenced pop culture and other films and how it's cachet has continued to build ever since. He also looks at Scorsese's career before and since as well as aspects of the film-maker's personal life. A complex and fascinating read. - BH.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A pretty definitive blow-by-blow analysis of the film, almost shot for shot, that's full of generous nuggets of background and colorful anecdote, all meticulously researched and quite readable – though I suppose YMMV depending on one's level of GOODFELLAS super-fandom. I ended up finding the epilogue – a pretty casual and free-flowing interview with Scorsese in which he reflects on his career in what feels like an unguarded and somewhat philosophical moment – the most rewarding section to read. A pretty definitive blow-by-blow analysis of the film, almost shot for shot, that's full of generous nuggets of background and colorful anecdote, all meticulously researched and quite readable – though I suppose YMMV depending on one's level of GOODFELLAS super-fandom. I ended up finding the epilogue – a pretty casual and free-flowing interview with Scorsese in which he reflects on his career in what feels like an unguarded and somewhat philosophical moment – the most rewarding section to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Made Men is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) look at Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, and it examines everything from casting to shots and framing to music selections to critical reception and beyond. You will learn a lot about Goodfellas, possibly more than you wanted. If you enjoy deep dives into the making of seminal films, boy howdy is this the book for you. Fair warning: it's a little repetitive. That said, nothing will get you googling "Joe Pesci singing" as quickly. Expect to read it Made Men is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) look at Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, and it examines everything from casting to shots and framing to music selections to critical reception and beyond. You will learn a lot about Goodfellas, possibly more than you wanted. If you enjoy deep dives into the making of seminal films, boy howdy is this the book for you. Fair warning: it's a little repetitive. That said, nothing will get you googling "Joe Pesci singing" as quickly. Expect to read it and watch Goodfellas very slowly with a new appreciation for camera angles and edits. Likewise, expect Ray Liotta or Marty Scorsese to make cameos in your dreams because you're pretty deep up in their collective grill in this lengthy, detailed book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Glenn Kenny has taken aim at a popular film by a popular filmmaker and a (mostly) well-known cast, and hit the target he was aiming for: an energetic, stylish stream of pop-culture consciousness that is both personal and broad. Kenny sidesteps the conventional wisdom for an idiosyncratic 360º view of a film that is familiar and loved by many. At the same time as he considers the film, he also considers the career of Martin Scorsese (pronounced "Scor-seeze" by the true cognoscenti) and this film's Glenn Kenny has taken aim at a popular film by a popular filmmaker and a (mostly) well-known cast, and hit the target he was aiming for: an energetic, stylish stream of pop-culture consciousness that is both personal and broad. Kenny sidesteps the conventional wisdom for an idiosyncratic 360º view of a film that is familiar and loved by many. At the same time as he considers the film, he also considers the career of Martin Scorsese (pronounced "Scor-seeze" by the true cognoscenti) and this film's place in that career - what led up to it, what was going on during its construction, and where it led afterwards. In addition, fully fleshed-out pictures of a skilled crime writer (Nicholas Pileggi) and his bullshit-factory subject (Henry Hill) are detailed with all due respect and enough grains of salt to fill a Sanitation Dept. spreader truck. In all these ways I felt like the book opened up a serious/unserious spreadsheet of What Is Worth Discussing About "Goodfellas." With digressions and tangents galore, we get a rich serving of opinion, fact, opinions about opinions, and facts about facts. (I use "rich" in the comedic sense "That's pretty rich!") Wherever you start from at the outset, you will be somewhere else at the end, and the destination will be more fun than where you began. As examples, Michael Imperioli's stock rose quite high in my personal index as a result of reading his thoughtful discussion of what it meant to be in this film as a rookie mook, and the mystery of Joe Pesci is well-described though not solved. Ultimately it's enough to say that Glenn Kenny has done right by the various egos and personalities that make up this story's story. A straight-up guy from whom I expected no less, and the result is a very enjoyable read for minutia nerds and casual cinephiles alike. Disclaimer: I have met Glenn and talked shit with him about movies and other topics upon a fair few occasions. Even so, I am unerringly objective about his book, as well as everything else.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jack Wolfe

    Leafing through book after book on genocide and massacres and political dysfunction and the essential moral bankruptcy of human civilization as we know it has pushed me into a Happy Place where I have to read, once again, about Martin Scorsese films. "Made Men" faces a big challenge from the get go: how do you say anything about "Goodfellas" that doesn't look staid and dry next to the experience of actually watching "Goodfellas"? It's the most goddamn watchable movie ever made! You get to hang o Leafing through book after book on genocide and massacres and political dysfunction and the essential moral bankruptcy of human civilization as we know it has pushed me into a Happy Place where I have to read, once again, about Martin Scorsese films. "Made Men" faces a big challenge from the get go: how do you say anything about "Goodfellas" that doesn't look staid and dry next to the experience of actually watching "Goodfellas"? It's the most goddamn watchable movie ever made! You get to hang out with bad guys for three hours and watch them cuss and fight and fail! But is it really a compelling story when you step outside of its totally immersive confines and start trying to... describe it? The strategy Glenn Kenny employs is not completely successful, but mostly fascinating. Knowing there's already a fairly extensive literature on his subject, he focuses his narrative largely on the side players and side stories of the film's saga: the film's victims, its women, its black characters, its slighted producers. Given that any shot in the movie is worth more than the entirety of the MCU combined, even the pages on... Henry Hill's doctor (played by Isaiah Whitlock fucking Jr!) have some nifty trivia. Kenny is particularly on point when he describes the film's musical choices, hilariously revealing that neither of the film's Clapton moments were authored by Clapton himself ("Sunshine of Your Love" was written by Cream bassist Jack Bruce; the coda of "Layla" was ripped off wholesale from a Rita Coolidge/Jim Gordon demo tape). The author seems to have inhaled ever page ever written about anything written about "Goodfellas" like so much cocaine, and it makes for a book that's strange and digressive but also pretty fucking fun to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Harold

    This is not a book about organized crime. It's a book about the making of the movie "Goodfellas." As such it's revealing of the amount of work, business wheeling and dealing, casting (some of the actors being pushed for some key roles would have been a disaster), dealing with difficult (or pleasant) personalities and a desire to get the job done. It's well written and the author, by necessity, must get into the making of several films that Scorsese was involved with both before and after "Goodfe This is not a book about organized crime. It's a book about the making of the movie "Goodfellas." As such it's revealing of the amount of work, business wheeling and dealing, casting (some of the actors being pushed for some key roles would have been a disaster), dealing with difficult (or pleasant) personalities and a desire to get the job done. It's well written and the author, by necessity, must get into the making of several films that Scorsese was involved with both before and after "Goodfellas." I found it very informing. I had no idea how difficult it was to film, for instance, the scene where Henry and Karen enter the Copa through the kitchen. How the camera work had to be synced and edited to for a seamless whole. This is a book about the film industry and what goes into the making of a movie. Who knew it could be so complicated. :)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mac

    I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would advise against diving into this expecting solely an oral history of Goodfellas. While Glenn Kenny provides a comprehensive (too comprehensive, at times--there's a long chapter on the music behind the film that I, admittedly, skimmed), he also delves into other aspects of Martin Scorsese's career and conducts some insightful and entertaining interviews with Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Barbara De Fina, and ot I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would advise against diving into this expecting solely an oral history of Goodfellas. While Glenn Kenny provides a comprehensive (too comprehensive, at times--there's a long chapter on the music behind the film that I, admittedly, skimmed), he also delves into other aspects of Martin Scorsese's career and conducts some insightful and entertaining interviews with Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Barbara De Fina, and others along the way. If you enjoy Scorsese's work and enjoy works about films, this is worth your time--just, you know, skim the parts that aren't of interest to you.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Kateeb

    Good book. Pretty well written and researched. Particularly liked the scene by scene chapter, which is most of the book. Author goes into great detail scene by scene of the camera shots, acting and other interesting nuggets. The chapter on the soundtrack and how Scorsese creates the music, which is essential in any movie, just wasn’t for me. I understood why the author puts that in the book though because the music and score is a huge part of filmmaking. Henry Hill was quite the character in rea Good book. Pretty well written and researched. Particularly liked the scene by scene chapter, which is most of the book. Author goes into great detail scene by scene of the camera shots, acting and other interesting nuggets. The chapter on the soundtrack and how Scorsese creates the music, which is essential in any movie, just wasn’t for me. I understood why the author puts that in the book though because the music and score is a huge part of filmmaking. Henry Hill was quite the character in real life. Milked every single penny he could from this story. Still my favorite movie of all time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick Guzan

    Made Men was written for Goodfellas superfans like me and it delivered on this 110%, so I’d be a schnook not to bestow it with five stars even if the Average Nobody wouldn’t have the same five-star reading experience as I did. Knowing that Scorsese laughs as he does Pesci’s “don’t say it!” bit with his friends 30 years later is truly life-affirming?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charles Fischer

    Everything you want to know about every aspect of Goodfellas, it's here. Kenny's presentation is full of detail and meanders down interesting, telling corridors. As with any book of film analysis, it's really the story of the filmmakers and artists who brought the film to life - their creative process and struggle. Fascinating stuff. Everything you want to know about every aspect of Goodfellas, it's here. Kenny's presentation is full of detail and meanders down interesting, telling corridors. As with any book of film analysis, it's really the story of the filmmakers and artists who brought the film to life - their creative process and struggle. Fascinating stuff.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rory

    Despite the irritatingly sloppy editing, and Glenn Kenny's habit of muddying the waters by overexplaining things (the extensive movie recap chapter is particularly bloated in parts), it's a fairly respectable companion to the two audio commentaries on the Goodfellas special edition DVD. Despite the irritatingly sloppy editing, and Glenn Kenny's habit of muddying the waters by overexplaining things (the extensive movie recap chapter is particularly bloated in parts), it's a fairly respectable companion to the two audio commentaries on the Goodfellas special edition DVD.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    As my friends know, I'm a bit obsessed with mafia movies. plus Martin Scorcese is one of my favorite directors. Great bio of a movie and director! As my friends know, I'm a bit obsessed with mafia movies. plus Martin Scorcese is one of my favorite directors. Great bio of a movie and director!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Ritter

    I could read books like this until the end of time. There’s a chapter that’s 153 pages that just goes scene by scene and tells stories and talks about the production! Can’t get better than that!

  30. 4 out of 5

    ThereWillBeBooks

    Solid behind the scenes look at the making of Goodfellas thirty years later. If you’re into that sort of thing this will be right up your alley. It left me more impressed with Scorsese as an artist and director and more scornful of producers and studio interference in movies than I already had been. Kenny also does a deep dive on the soundtrack. Very deep. A large portion of the book goes through the score, song by song, and we are treated to a history of the various artists and producers of the Solid behind the scenes look at the making of Goodfellas thirty years later. If you’re into that sort of thing this will be right up your alley. It left me more impressed with Scorsese as an artist and director and more scornful of producers and studio interference in movies than I already had been. Kenny also does a deep dive on the soundtrack. Very deep. A large portion of the book goes through the score, song by song, and we are treated to a history of the various artists and producers of the songs that appear in the film. Once again, fascinating if you are into that sort of thing. Luckily I am, so it all works out.

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