ONE MAN LIVES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, ANOTHER MAN OWNS IT. A DEVOTED FATHER BATTLES THE LOCAL CRIME BOSS FOR THE LIFE OF HIS SON.
While growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s and ’60s, “C” is torn between his honest bus driver dad (Robert De Niro) and the local, charismatic mob boss (Chazz Palminteri). Palminteri turned his one-man play into a nuanced screenplay, and De Niro showed in his directing debut that he paid attention when making all those movies with Martin Scorsese. The cast is excellent. Palminteri himself as the mobster who becomes a second father to the kid; De Niro in a non-flashy, down-to-earth performance; and Lillo Brancato as the confused adolescent. Great period flavor, and there’s even room in the story for the racial strife of that time to be addressed.
1993-U.S. 122 min. Color. Produced by Jane Rosenthal, Jon Kilik, Robert De Niro. Directed by Robert De Niro. Screenplay, Play: Chazz Palminteri. Cast: Robert De Niro (Lorenzo Anello), Chazz Palminteri (Sonny), Lillo Brancato (Calogero ”C” Anello, age 17), Francis Capra (”C”, age 9), Taral Hicks, Kathrine Narducci… Joe Pesci.
Trivia: Shot in Brooklyn and Queens because those parts of New York look more like the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s. Later a Broadway musical.
Last word: “Too many movies speak about [Italian-Americans] as just gombas or Mafioso. I wanted a movie about the working man, about a real Italian-American community. The real fabric comes from working men. My dad was similar to Lorenzo. I used to see him put his boots on in the morning to go out and drive the bus. He’d get up in the rain, the snow, smiling, just to make his children’s’ lives better. That’s all he wanted. No dreams to be this, or that. To me, a man like that is a hero, and I wanted the movie to reflect that.” (Palminteri, RogerEbert.com)