MOTW: Five Quotes from the Infinitely Quotable "Goodfellas"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
April 10th, 2013

MOTW: Five Quotes from the Infinitely Quotable "Goodfellas"

When a film is 146 minutes long, a good chance exists that it has at least one or two quotable or memorable lines in it. If the film is directed by Martin Scorsese, who gave permission to the actors to ad-lib frequently, the chances of having multiple memorable lines in the film increases exponentially. The 1990 classic "Goodfellas" has an all-star cast and so many famous lines that it was hard to pare it down to just five.

1. "As far back as I could remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." - Henry Hill

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) not only plays a large role in the film but also serves as its narrator. It is a clever device used by director Scorsese to explain the background of each of the characters to the audience and gives much insight into their actions and motivations. Hill talks at length about himself and uses this quote to explain how he was destined to be a gangster. He goes on to say that being a gangster meant that, as a child, he was already earning more money than most adults he knew. He also explains that being in the mob means that others respect you, which was very important to him and all his friends. This quote begins all of his reminiscing about growing up as a gangster and helps set the tone for the rest of his story.

2. "I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?" - Tommy DeVito

Anyone who knows a big fan of the film has probably heard him or her utter this line at least once. It is uttered by Tommy (Joe Pesci), who is having dinner at the same table as Henry. When Henry laughs and says that he is funny, Tommy is offended by what he incorrectly perceives to be an insult. It turns out that Tommy is feigning being offended, but he doesn't let on until after several tension-filled seconds during which viewers think he might explode and try to kill Henry. Considering how sociopathic Tommy could be, Scorsese could have had Tommy whack Henry, and it would have been believable.

3. "I settle down with a nice girl every night, then I'm free the next morning." - Tommy DeVito

Every bachelor in the world has probably been asked by his mother at some point about when he might settle down and get married. In the film, Catherine Scorsese, the mother of director Martin, plays Tommy's mother. When she inevitably asks the serial womanizer when he plans to settle down, he replies with this funny retort, which his mother doesn't find to be nearly as amusing as the audience does. Since the film's release in 1990, single men all over the world have used this very famous line when asked when they might take the marital plunge.

4. "Jimmy was the kind of guy that rooted for bad guys in the movies." - Henry Hill

The main mob boss in the movie is Jimmy Conway, who is played to perfection by Robert De Niro. Henry, who is the narrator, had to explain to the audience just who Jimmy is and how he ascended to his position. Of course, the more interesting part of Jimmy's story is how he managed to stay on his lofty perch for so long in a world where people are constantly killing their coworkers. He did so by being ruthless and cutthroat when he conducted business. Henry explains that when Jimmy watches a movie, he always roots for the bad guys. It explains a lot about Jimmy and how he got into this dangerous yet thrilling line of work.

5. "Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was for the girlfriends." - Henry Hill

The world portrayed in "Goodfellas" is dominated by males, with the women largely serving only as eye candy or as a bothersome, griping wife. It is fairly misogynistic, with many of the married men taking on a mistress who their significant other knew nothing about. Henry uses this quote to explain exactly how life played out for him and his mob friends on the weekends. On Friday nights, they met with the girlfriends at the Copa, a place full of drinking and debauchery. On Saturday nights, they would step into the role of good husband and take their wives or families out instead. To be a good family man during the weekend, each of them had to start out by visiting the Copa on Friday night.