After Andy’s overwhelming debut a couple of weeks ago, he’s back with another edition. Take it away, young’un.
Bob has a love child
FRIENDS, ROMANS, COUNTRYMEN! Hiya!!!!
The 2nd instalment of Andy Finally Watches… (as with the 1st) comes with the irony that Mr 5-Word himself hasn’t seen it yet either. What’s that about?! Anyhoo, despite that bombshell, let’s get on with the show. A gangster flick with De Niro and an appearance from Pesci? Nice one; a brand new concept. Oh wait…
It’s the 1960s in The Bronx, New York. Little Calogero Anello lives with his bus driver dad Lorenzo, played by Bob De Niro, and his wee mum Rosina, played by Katherine Narducci (just googled her for a modern pic. Ooftt!!!). Along the street at the corner, hangs the local mob boss Sonny (Chazz Palminteri) and his stereotypical Italian-American hoods. Despite never having had any interaction with Sonny, little Calogero idolises him and his coolness. I suspect it’s because the guy playing Sonny is actually little Calogero himself! Confused? I shall explain later.
One day, a scuffle in the street occurs as two folk go for a parking spot, shouty angriness ensues and one gentleman decides to go to town on the others car with a baseball bat. During the melee, Sonny steps up and shoots said aggressor. The police soon come knocking and ask the wee man to identify who popped the cap in the dead man downstairs (I’m so street ain’t I?). The cops ask – I’m getting sick of having to write Calogero, so I’m going to refer to him as ‘C’ from now on – C to come and identify who fired the gun. Last in the line is Sonny and after a long pause, C clears Sonny of any shenanigans.
As a thank you, one of Sonny’s hoods offers Lorenzo the chance to earn some extra cash by picking up and delivering a note on his route. Bobby De Niro declines as he wants to remain honest and provide for his family with hard work. Sonny then approaches C, who starts sneaking away to hang about in the bar with Sonny. He earns a few pennies by bringing folk drinks and by being lucky for Sonny by throwing dice. Sonny decides his name is too much to say so nicknames him C (yass how lucky was that?!) and when I say a few pennies, I mean about $600. His father finds the money and takes C to see Sonny and gives him the money back. Shouty mind your business stuff comes and goes quickly and Bob and C have a wee heart to heart outside.
Eight years later and C is a cheeky adolescent chappy who has maintained a relationship with Sonny without his father’s knowledge. Despite his mobness, Sonny doesn’t want C to do what he does and encourages him to keep on the straight and narrow. C’s friends are troublemakers though and end up getting C potentially into the wrong situations but Sonny manages to catch him before he falls.
The main story in the film is that of C’s journey through adolescence with two father figures. Although sometimes the information conflicts from both sides, they both want what’s best for C. Their respective personalities mirror the advice they give C. For example, C asks out a young Afican-American lady despite the tension between her race and C’s and he then asks both what they think. Pops is a straight laced, do as your told bus driver, and tells C that he would want C to go out with one of his own, whereas do-what-you-want Sonny tells C that if he likes the girl then nobody else matters.
A Bronx Tale was adapted from the play of the same name, and is a semi-autobiographical account of his own childhood written by Chazz Palminteri aka Sonny, whose real first name is, dun dun duuuun, Calogero! All makes sense now eh?! Turns out this was also Bob’s directoral debut and what a way to start. He takes something of a backseat and allows Lillo Brancato Jr, who plays big C, to shine, who by the way looks more like a young De Niro than young De Niro did! Despite his surroundings, he maintains an innocence throughout, like when Sonny and his hoods play fisticuffs with a group of disrespectful bikers, he can be found cowering in the corner, but you are on his side. You want him to stay out the way and stay safe.
The relationship between Sonny and C is the highlight of the film for me. Sonny opens up to him and tells him that his people are loyal because he gives them just enough that they still need him but fear him, and tells him about love and women. Sonny tells him that essentially, folk don’t care about him, only his position. C sees him differently though and not what he is but who he is. Very poignant I’m sure you will agree. Turns out I was wrong, it’s really not a gangster flick at all.
The soundtrack to the film, or the score as I’m led to believe it is called, is just awesome. As you would expect, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin feature but Hendrix, James Brown and Cream are in there too and it all works somehow.
“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever”. A quote from Lorenzo to C there. Quite ironic when you hear that Lillo Brancato Jr is currently serving a 10 year sentence for attempted burglary. Wasted talent indeed.
Or maybe I’m talking bollocks?!