Thursday, March 5, 2020

A GOODFELLAS Diary: Reflections on Movie Love and Friendship

by Erika Bromley and Mike Pomaro
Or, "What It's Like to Hang Out with Erika and Mike."

Erika: Hi Mike! We are in the middle of #FThisMovieFest 1990 week, and I thought we would be remiss if we did not mention Goodfellas in the midst of all the love for this great year at the movies. Martin Scorsese’s epic Mafia movie extraordinaire has, to even the less film-obsessed fan, been written about countless times (including this incredible piece by our site’s JB), so I know that a new review -- even from two honest-to-God superfans -- would be moot at this point in the overall movie discourse of the world. Unless Uncle Marty would want to come and sit down with us for an interview, I don’t think we have anything new to say about the film itself; however, we might have something to say about how it changed us as people and as fans of cinema. (Wait - do you have an ‘in’ with Uncle Marty? He hasn’t responded to my request for him to adopt me yet. YET.) You and I have both shared on this site just how much we love movies in an ‘extra’ sort of way (anyone choosing to read this probably relates), and both of our “All Time Favorites” lists include Goodfellas. Do you remember the first time you ever saw it?
Mike: I do! It was 1991 and it was just released on video. My parents wanted to see it, so the three of us rented it one night. We popped popcorn, bought some Coke (which was a big treat for me), and settled in to watch it. Then the Spider/Tommy scene happened. Next thing I knew, my mom and dad left the room, leaving their 12-year old (!!) to finish Goodfellas by himself. To tell the truth, I probably didn’t realize they had left right away. You know when you’re watching a movie that’s connecting with you, like really connecting, and everything around you ceases to exist? That’s what watching Goodfellas for the first time was like for me. It was an experience I had not had before, and boy did it do a number on me. I always credit Goodfellas as being the film that made me aware of what a director did and led me down a path of movie love I’m still on today. Don’t get me wrong, I loved movies before Goodfellas (BG). My family and I went to the theater all of the time, rented Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again and again, and I pretended my G.I Joes were members of the Corleone family. But Goodfellas made me take notice of the director, in this case Martin Scorsese, which made me want to learn about him and what a director does, which then drove me to learn about other filmmakers and their influences, etc. Because of Goodfellas I started to read more about movies, watch more films, go to film school, write for F This Movie!, and eventually made a few shorts myself. If not for Goodfellas, would another film have flipped that switch for me at some point? Maybe? Probably? But I’m lucky it was Goodfellas and that it happened when it did. (Side note: I eventually talked my parents into rewatching Goodfellas and it’s now one of their favorite movies).

Do you remember when Goodfellas first appeared on your radar?

Erika: I love how you mention that it was the first movie to really, truly make you aware of the art of filmmaking and not just story or entertainment, though we both clearly love Goodfellas in every possible way. I was very aware of its existence in 1990, but I knew I was too young to see it. Coming from an Italian family like you do, any movie even somewhat connected to being Italian was on my radar, and my parents and Italian grandparents were definitely seeing it or talking about it. I can’t remember the exact date that I finally saw it: I think I rented it from Blockbuster in high school and watched it at home by myself. I know I felt like it had been made just for me (years later I had the same reaction to Boogie Nights). I loved every single thing about it - the story, the performances, the editing, the cinematography, the dialogue, the music…

Mike: Would you say you love the soundtrack?!?!

Erika: Ummm… more on that later!
Mike: I of course agree with everything you just said. I had never seen a film move like that before! The music choices (what a soundtrack!) and performances knocked me out as well, especially Joe Pesci’s. That started a love affair with Mr. Pesci that led me to track down copies of The Death Collector and Easy Money. In the back of my eighth grade year book, under the “Where Will I Be in Ten Years” section, next to my name it said, “6’7", Aerosmith roadie, and founder of the Joe Pesci fan club.” Sadly, none of those things came true. But enough about movies; talk more about ME.

Erika: We went to high school together and always liked each other but were a year apart and not hanging out very often (can we go back in time?). I always liked seeing you and your friend Nick come into the Blockbuster where I started working my senior year, and that kept us connected through our college years. Post-college, we ended up at a lot of the same gatherings, and I will never forget the first time you and Patrick met and really bonded over movies. It was a pretty loud party, and if I remember correctly, I sort of insisted that the two of you talk, knowing you’d be great friends if I just played matchmaker -- and it worked! (Eventually, you’d be writing about me talking your ear off when you come over in part of a birthday piece for Patrick. True friendship!) Do you remember what you guys talked about at that party?

Mike: Of course I remember! He and I bonded over our mutual love of The Evil Dead, only to argue over Saving Private Ryan shortly thereafter. Nothing has changed! All of these years later, my favorite thing to do is talk movies with Patrick. That is why I put Joe Pesci aside and founded the Patrick Bromley Fan Club.

Erika: Do I owe membership dues? We have to mention the 1998 Daily Herald (our local suburban newspaper) AFI-inspired question that was posed to readers: What’s your favorite movie and why? There was a phone number for people to call and leave a message, right? I can’t remember the details! But I know I made my then friend Patrick participate: he called in about DePalma’s Blow Out, and I called in about Goodfellas. Years later, you shared that you had seen our entries -- am I remembering this correctly? Just another way we were all meant to be friends. And something for you guys to tease me about for years…

Mike: I don’t remember anyone’s entry, but yours! It was actually my mom that found it and recognized your name. She said, “Look! It’s Erika from school! And she picked Goodfellas!” It was then that she began saving money for our wedding (I’m kidding; she thought Adam Thas and I would get married).
Erika: I have always loved your mom. How incredibly adorable that she recognized my name and showed you! I’m glad you love Patrick, and I’m glad you married Christy, because I love her. This all works out. Your mom and my Italian grandmother, though decades apart in age, both remind me of Martin Scorsese’s mom. Few things in film are better than when Mrs. Scorsese shows up in her son’s movies. She is a ray of spaghetti-splashed sunshine. I love her so much.

You and Patrick have famously teased me for how I mentioned the soundtrack for Goodfellas as being such an important part of Scorsese’s overall style and aesthetic. I think 18-year old me often said, “The music is like another character in the film!” Ahhh, youth. But also I love how Scorsese knows how to amplify the emotional impact of a scene with the right piece of music or make a transition more impactful with the right piece of music. Thirty years later and I still don’t think it’s a simple choice for directors. Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino are at the top of my list for current directors who use popular music in such a meaningful and powerful way. Who am I forgetting?

Mike: Those are my go-to picks as well, but I would also add James Gunn and Edgar Wright to that list as well. I marvel at how they’re able to find not just a good song, but the right song, for a particular moment in a film. I love it. I also love how quotable Goodfellas is. I think I’ve seen Goodfellas more than any other movie (Revenge of the Nerds may be second, believe it or not) and therefore I know it like the back of my hand. Do you find it quotable?

Erika: Immensely. I say “...gonna go get the papers, get the papers” at least once a week. Most people have no idea what I’m talking about. I often reference “…Carbone in the meat truck…” often - and sometimes in situations where it doesn’t even make sense.

Certain Goodfellas quotes definitely permeated the mainstream and became their own stand-alone lines in a way; I’m sure there are people who haven’t even seen the movie who would recognize Joe Pesci’s, “I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?” or even, “As far as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster” which, side note, that line cutting to “Rags to Riches” and then the title makes my heart jump. I’m not exaggerating. I just watched that scene and nearly burst into tears just thinking about how much I love this movie. I’m not being hyperbolic. Something is probably wrong with me. I’m still crying over the last shot of The Irishman.

Now I’m just seething at my desk, rageful that Goodfellas did not win Best Picture for 1990. UGH.
Mike: “Stop it, Karen. I’m still goin’ out.” and “Ooohhhh, alright.” are big ones in our house (we’re weird). I once threw out an, “Every time. Every time you two! Don’t you work?” to two people at work that were standing around talking. It didn’t go over well.

Erika: Oh my gosh. I love it. Let’s not forget, “One dog goes one way, and the other dog goes the other way” and “...this guy's sayin', ‘Whadda ya want from me?'” That scene. Oh gosh. I’m emotional again. His mom is so perfect. They are all so perfect. And the classic, “There must have been two dozen Peters and Pauls at the wedding. Plus, they were all married to girls named Marie. And they named all their daughters Marie. By the time I finished meeting everybody, I thought I was drunk.” Of course when I reference those lines, I shorten it into something mostly made-up, kind of like how Italian-American hybrid words were passed along in my family.

I’d love to hear what our readers’ (if some have stuck with us this far) favorite lines from Goodfellas are. And favorite scenes. Favorite anything!

I’ve loved reminiscing about our decades-long friendship and our decades-long love for this movie. Thank you for being my friend and for understanding my emotional connection to and affection for this movie. Any closing thoughts, Mike?

Mike: Thank you, Erika, for your friendship and for introducing me to my favorite bass player -- Patrick (my apologies to Jeff Ament and Adam Yauch).

I guess in closing I just wanted to say that while Goodfellas is an easy movie to talk about and a safe pick considering it may be the best movie of 1990, it’s actually very personal to me. I honestly think it changed my life and it will always remain my favorite movie. Like you, I get emotional about it all 30 years later. I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this and when the opening notes of “Rags to Riches” kicked in, I got goosebumps. It’s magic.

Erika: See? We are soul mates in Scorsese love. Let’s go cry together and stir the sauce.


  1. Reads article. Puts on soundtrack. Waits for work to end to watch movie.

    Terrific discussion on such a special movie. One of those where if you catch a glimpse of it you have to watch to the end.

    1. Thank you for reading! Yes - it really is. I can't ever turn it off.

  2. Favorite movie of all time. Unless its one of the days Jaws has that honor. My brother in laws childhood home was actually used in the filming of the movie (he grew up in Queens Village NY). The scene where Henry delivers the useless gun parts was his porch and the scene where the wives are gathered for the shower and Karen is talking about how cheap they look was his living room. I actually slept in that room when He and my sister got married. The mirrors were still on the wall. He has video of him interviewing Pesci and Scorcese's father Charlie.

    1. If I get his permission I will share them on the facebook page.

    2. I did send a bunch of screen caps in a message to the f this movie facebook page. Sorry I couldn't do more.

  3. I'm sorry. Came here to update that he asked me not to share. He says his facebook goes crazy with messages every time he does. The Pesci vid is only about 1:30 though and also features Melissa Prophet(Angie) for a quick moment who makes sure to mentions Mr. Pesci's Oscar for raging bull and that Joe is "her best friend and a "fucking actor" to which Joe makes a joke about it being on HBO and Melissa continues "When I tell you Joe Pesci is the greatest. its an understatement". Pesci then asks my brother in law if he is going to edit out the cursing.
    The other major highlight was My BIL asking about what advice the Mr. Pesci would give the high school students he gave lectures too any advice about becoming an actor.
    "My honest opinion you should do something else. Its a terrible business." Then my brother in laws mother comes in and thats pretty much the end of the interview.