Study Guide

Goodfellas Scene 1

Scene 1

Scene 1

That's Not a Woodchuck in There

  • Goodfellas' main titles—naming just the principal cast—come zooming in like cars. Fittingly, they're accompanied by car noises.
  • "This film is based on a true story" flashes on the screen before we switch to a giant sedan driving at night. That explains the automotive audio.
  • Time for some more on-screen text. This time, it's the setting: New York, 1970. That explains the boat-size automobile.
  • In the car, Henry is behind the wheel while Jimmy and Tommy doze. There's a rattling, thumping, not good sound coming from somewhere in the car. Henry is afraid he has a flat.
  • He pulls over, and the three guys go to the back of the car. It's not a flat. It's something in the trunk.
  • Jimmy has a shovel at the ready. Tommy reaches for his gun. We're pretty sure that's not a woodchuck in there.
  • Henry pops open the trunk. Inside, there's a bloody dude wrapped in a sheet. Tommy is ticked that he's still alive and stabs him several times. Then, Jimmy makes sure he's really dead and shoots him. These guys are nothing if not thorough.
  • "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster," Henry tells us in voice-over as he shuts the trunk. The film freezes on his face.
  • Then, we get the rest of the opening credits as Tony Bennett's "Rags to Riches" plays. And with that, Goodfellas is bloody off and running.

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