Study Guide

Goodfellas Violence

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HENRY: Every once in a while, I'd have to take a beating. But, by then, I didn't care. The way I saw it, everybody takes a beating sometime.

Here, young Henry is talking about taking a beating from his dad, who, ironically, doesn't approve of the mobsters that Henry is associating with at work. For Henry, getting socked in the face every once in a while is just another thing that men have to put up with.

PAULIE: Tommy's a bad seed. What am I supposed to do? Shoot him?

SONNY: That wouldn't be a bad idea.

Sonny, because he's not a wiseguy, wisely retracts this suggestion almost immediately.

TOMMY: We hit the deer, and his paw ... What do you call it?

TOMMY'S MOM: The paw.

JIMMY: The hoof.

TOMMY: The hoof got caught in the grill, and I gotta hack it off.

Remember that time, over dinner, when you told your mom you had to borrow her kitchen knife to hack off a deer's paw, and she didn't blink an eye? Yeah, us neither. Tommy's mom is completely unaware of her darling son's capacity for brutality.

TOMMY: Hey, Henry! Henry, hurry up, will ya? My mother's gonna make some fried peppers and sausage for us.

JIMMY: Oh, hey, Henry, Henry! Here's an arm!

HENRY: Very funny, guys.

JIMMY: Here's a leg!

TOMMY: Here's a wing! Hey, what do you like, the leg or the wing, Henry? Or ya still go for the old hearts and lungs?

HENRY: [Henry barfs.] Oh, that's so bad!

Here, we have an example of violence and gore played for laughs as they dig up Billy Batts' decomposing corpse. How is that possible? Because for these guys, violence has become routine.

TOMMY: All right, so he got shot in the foot. What is it, a big f***in' deal?

Of all of the characters in the movie, Tommy may have the most casual attitude about violence. He also has the highest propensity for it. That's a wicked scary combo—just ask Spider.

HENRY: I got enough to worry about getting f***ing whacked on the street! I gotta f***ing come home for this! I should f***ing kill you! How does it feel, huh? Huh? How does it feel, Karen?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, domestic violence is also a part of the mobster lifestyle. Here, after Karen holds a gun to her husband's head, Henry grabs the gun and threatens her right back.

TOMMY: Hey, Frank, let's chop him up.

FRANK: All right. [Frank starts to get out of the car.]

TOMMY: Where you going? Where you going, you dizzy motherf***er, you?

FRANK: I thought you said to chop him up.

TOMMY: Up at Charlie's, not here! Where the f*** are we gonna chop him here?

FRANK: Charlie's.

TOMMY: Come on, what are you doing? Get the f*** outta here. I got a better shot letting him [Morrie's corpse] f***ing drive. What are you waiting for?

FRANK: The car's cold.

TOMMY: Get the f*** outta here! What f***ing warm enough? Get outta here!

Just to be clear, these guys have just viciously murdered Morrie and decided to chop him up. But what are they most concerned about? Whether or not the car needs to be warmed up before they drive off and break out the hatchets. Their casual attitude toward some seriously gruesome behavior is funny, but only because it's so disturbing.

HENRY: When they found Carbone in the meat truck, he was frozen so stiff it took them two days to thaw him out for the autopsy.

The montage of family members that Jimmy has murdered after the Lufthansa heist shows that the gang has zero qualms about taking out their own as brutishly as possible. Savagery isn't just reserved for outsiders.

JIMMY: Vinnie, what happened?

VINNIE: Well, we—

JIMMY: You get it straightened out?

VINNIE: No, we had a problem. And, uh, we tried to do everything we could.

JIMMY: What do you mean?

VINNIE: Well, you know what I mean. He's gone, and we couldn't do nothing about it. That's it.

JIMMY: What do you mean? What do you mean? Uh ...

VINNIE: He's gone. He's gone. And that's it.

Jimmy had to have known this was going to happen, right? Tommy killed a made guy, and as Henry himself tells us, made men are the only people who are considered untouchable.

HENRY: Jimmy had never asked me to whack somebody before, but now he's asking me to go down to Florida and do a hit with Anthony. That's when I knew I would never have come back from Florida alive.

Perhaps the only upshot of the mob's attitude toward violence is that it does involve some sense of order and established rules. That's why Henry knows he needs to skip the trip to Disney World and disappear forever.

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