Study Guide

Goodfellas What's Up With the Ending?

What's Up With the Ending?

Henry Hill's story doesn't wind to an end. It crash lands in suburban hell. As we spot Henry in an ugly blue bathrobe, picking up the morning paper and smirking at the camera, he tells us firsthand that he's super bummed about his decadent mobster lifestyle going kaput. "I'm an average nobody," he grouses, "get to live my life like a schnook." For Henry, living a thoroughly ordinary life is practically a death sentence.

Then, Sid Vicious's punk-rock spin on "My Way" kicks in. "Regrets? I've had a few," Vicious sneers. What about Henry? We get the sense that, if anything, Henry regrets getting caught. He may regret lying to Paulie and going against his advice. He probably doesn't regret all of those dudes he helped kill or the cocaine he pumped through Pittsburgh, though.

Now, we know what you're thinking: "What about that weird shot of Tommy firing a gun straight into the camera? What's that all about?" That's director Martin Scorsese's homage to the grand tradition of outlaws on film, more specifically Edwin Stanton Porter's 1903 silent film, The Great Train Robbery.

The Great Train Robbery is a 12-minute short film about—yep, you guessed it—a bunch of bandits pulling off an awesome train robbery. It ends with one of the outlaws opening fire directly into the cam.

In an interview with the American Film Institute, Scorsese explains the connection between his movie and Porter's: "Basically, in Goodfellas, it's a bunch of outlaws who do this incredible robbery. And then they all kill each other, and the police get them at the end. It's exactly the same story." In other words, Scorsese ripped off the scene. But, you know what they say—imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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