According to Nicholas Pileggi, some mobsters were hired as extras to lend authenticity to scenes. The mobsters gave fake Social Security numbers to Warner Brothers, and it is unknown how they received their paychecks.
According to Henry Hill, whose life was the basis for the book and film, Joe Pesci's portrayal of Tommy DeSimone was ninety to ninety-nine percent accurate, with one notable exception. The real Tommy DeSimone was a massively built, strapping man.
In the documentary, The Real Goodfella (2006), which aired in the UK, Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro would phone him seven to eight times a day to discuss certain things about Jimmy's character, such as how Jimmy would hold his cigarette, et cetera.
Al Pacino was offered the role of Jimmy Conway, but he turned it down, due to fears of typecasting. Ironically, that same year, Pacino ended up playing an even more stereotyped gangster, Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy (1990). He admits he regrets this decision.
Robert De Niro wanted to use real money for the scene where Jimmy hands out money, because he didn't like the way fake money felt in his hands. The prop master gave De Niro $5,000 of his own money. At the end of each take, no one was allowed to leave the set until all the money was returned and counted.
Martin Scorsese first got wind of Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy" when he was handed the galley proofs. Although Scorsese had sworn off making another gangster movie, he immediately cold-called the writer and told him, "I've been waiting for this book my entire life." To which Pileggi replied, "I've been waiting for this phone call my entire life."
Ray Liotta's mother died of cancer during filming. Liotta says that he used his anger over losing his mother for certain scenes, the pistol-whipping scene in particular.
According to Ray Liotta, Martin Scorsese was so involved in every detail of the cast's wardrobe that he tied Liotta's tie himself to make sure it was accurate for the film's setting.
The studio was initially very nervous about the film, due to its extreme violence and language. The film reportedly received the worst preview response in the studio's history. Martin Scorsese said that "the numbers were so low, it was funny." Nevertheless, the film was released without alteration to overwhelming critical acclaim, cementing Scorsese's reputation as one of America's foremost filmmakers.
Ray Liotta turned down the part of Harvey Dent in Batman (1989) in order to make this movie.
When Paulie confronts Henry after Hill's released from prison, Paul Sorvino improvised the slap to Ray Liotta's face, hence Liotta's reaction.
Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi collaborated on the screenplay, and over the course of the twelve drafts it took to reach the ideal script, the reporter realized "the visual styling had to be completely redone. So we decided to share credit." They decided which sections of the book they liked, and put them together like building blocks. Scorsese persuaded Pileggi that they did not need to follow a traditional narrative structure. Scorsese wanted to take the gangster film, and deal with it episode by episode, but start in the middle and move backwards and forwards. Scorsese would compact scenes, and realized that if they were kept short, "the impact after about an hour and a half would be terrific."
Martin Scorsese reportedly didn't want Ray Liotta to have contact with the real Henry Hill before filming, because he had never directed Liotta before, and didn't want Hill to influence Liotta.
For the scene where Sonny Bunz complains to Paulie, Martin Scorsese secretly told Tony Darrow to improvise more lines for his character without telling Paul Sorvino. Sorvino's confused reaction was real.
After Joe Pesci's mother saw the film, she told her son that the movie was good, then asked him if he had to curse so much.
The character of "Fat Andy", whom Henry introduces us to in the bar, was played by Louis Eppolito, an ex-NYPD detective whose father, uncle, and cousin had all been in the Mafia. In 2005, Eppolito and his police partner were arrested and charged with racketeering, obstruction of justice, extortion, and up to eight murders. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment, plus eighty years.
The movie's line "As far back as I could remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." was voted as number twenty of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
The dinner scene with Tommy's mother was almost completely improvised by the cast members, including Tommy asking his mother if he could borrow her butcher's knife and Jimmy's "hoof" comment. Also there is a painting on the wall in the background of The Last Supper. Martin Scorsese previously directed The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
The "f" word and its derivatives are used 321 times, for an average of 2.04 per minute. About half of them are said by Joe Pesci. At the time of the films' release, this was the most profanity of any movie in history. It is currently the twelfth most f-bomb laden film ever released. The script only called for the word to be used seventy times, but much of the dialogue was improvised during shooting, where the expletives piled up.
The painting that Joe Pesci's character's mother brings out was actually painted by "Wiseguy" author Nicholas Pileggi's mother.
Paul Sorvino wanted to drop out of the role of Paul "Paulie" Cicero three days before filming began, because he felt that he lacked the cold personality to play the character. He called his agent and asked to be released from the film. Sorvino's agent told him to think about it for one day before making a final decision. That night, Sorvino looked in the mirror and was frightened by the look on his face. He realized that that look was the look he needed to play Paulie.
In 2014, the Lufthansa heist was solved, and most of the still-surviving members were arrested.
Tony Darrow (Sonny Bunz, the owner of the Bamboo Lounge) worked in the real-life Bamboo Lounge, where Henry Hill, and the people, on whom the film's characters are based, would hang out.
The "How am I funny?" scene is based on something that actually happened to Joe Pesci. While working in a restaurant, a young Pesci apparently told a mobster that he was funny, a compliment that was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. Pesci relayed the anecdote to Martin Scorsese, who decided to include it in the film. Scorsese didn't include the scene in the shooting script, so that Pesci and Ray Liotta's interactions would elicit genuinely surprised reactions from the supporting cast.
Jimmy Burke, on whom Jimmy Conway was based, would've been eligible for parole in 2004. He died of lung cancer in 1996, while still in prison.
The first scene filmed was the Morrie's Wigs commercial. Martin Scorsese was inspired by a low-budget commercial that ran in New York City for a replacement window company. Scorsese contacted the company and found that the spokesperson in the ad was Stephen R. Pacca, who owned the company and created the ad himself. Pacca was hired to write, direct, and edit the commercial for Morrie's Wigs, so it could look like an authentic local ad.
According to Debi Mazar, when her character trips after meeting Henry, it was actually Mazar tripping over the camera dolly track. Martin Scorsese liked it, because it looked like she was overwhelmed by Henry, and left it in the film.
It was claimed that at the time, the real gangster Jimmy Burke was so happy to have Robert De Niro play him that he telephoned him from prison to give him a few pointers. Nicholas Pileggi denies this, saying De Niro and Burke had never spoken, but admitted that there were men around the set all the time who had known all of the principal characters very well.
At Martin Scorsese's request, associates of the actual people were always on the set of the film, giving helpful and essential information about the life, people, settings, and moods.
Although Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi collaborated on the screenplay (and received Oscar nominations for doing so), much of the film's eventual dialogue was improvised by the cast.
According to Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Tina Sinatra put a fake severed horse head in his trailer, an homage to The Godfather (1972), as an initiation into Mafioso films.
Ray Liotta came into view for the main lead after Martin Scorsese saw him in Something Wild (1986) and Field of Dreams (1989), and especially loved his "explosive energy" in the former film. However, according to Liotta, the casting process took over a year, in which he had to audition several times. The deal was finally sealed during the Venice Film Festival, which Liotta and Scorsese were visiting. Scorsese was protected by bodyguards after receiving several threats from religious groups, due to his controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). When Liotta wanted to take the opportunity to talk to Scorsese about the role again, the bodyguards kept pushing him back. When Scorsese noticed that Liotta remained very calm under this, he knew he had found the right leading man, because the real Henry Hill was also better known for being a calm and silent observer than an aggressive responder.
While driving to and from the set, Ray Liotta listened to cassettes of interviews that Nicholas Pileggi did with Henry Hill. Liotta noted that Hill casually discussed murders and other crimes while eating potato chips.
For the famous "Layla" montage, Martin Scorsese played the "piano coda" section of the song during the shooting of each scene, so that certain bars of the piano piece would match up with certain shots.
The long tracking shot in the Copa took seven takes. One take was ruined because Henny Youngman forgot his lines. According to Illeana Douglas, Scorsese was inspired by the long Steadicam shot in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987).
One of the little girls who plays Henry and Karen's daughters (specifically, the one in Karen's arms, who was too shy to give Paulie a kiss when they arrive at his house for dinner) is Lorraine Bracco's daughter with Harvey Keitel, Stella.
The M.P.A.A. ordered ten frames of blood removed from the film before granting it an R rating.
According to Joe Pesci, improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals wherein Martin Scorsese let the cast do whatever they wanted. He made transcripts of these sessions, took the lines the cast came up with that he liked best, and put them into a revised script, from which the cast worked, during principal photography.
Louis Eppolito wrote "Mafia Cop", a true story about growing up in a mafia family, and becoming an NYPD officer. In April 2006, he was convicted of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, and racketeering, for working as a mafia informant and hitman. The conviction was overturned, due to a technicality, then reinstated on appeal in 2008. In 2009, he was sentenced to life plus eighty years in prison.
Bobby Vinton was played by his son Robbie Vinton, who lip-synched to his father's recording.
Robert De Niro was so obsessed with authenticity, that during the infamous dinner scene, he asked how the real Jimmy would apply his ketchup, this eventually got passed to Henry Hill, who informed De Niro. As such, the way De Niro rubs the bottle of ketchup is how the real Jimmy Burke did so in real-life.
The later life of Henry Hill, after he enters the Witness Protection Program, was also adapted, more humorously, into My Blue Heaven (1990) the same year. Appropriately, that film was written by Nora Ephron, who is Nicholas Pileggi's wife.
While directing his mother Catherine Scorsese, Martin did not tell her that her character's son Tommy DeVito had just killed someone, and the body was in the trunk of his car. He only told her that her son was home for dinner, and to cook for them. James Conway is eating an Irish meal.
After the real Henry Hill's death on June 12, 2012, Ray Liotta claimed that he only had a few meetings with Hill, and never got to know him well.
Ranked number two on the American Film Institute's list of the ten greatest films in the genre "Gangster" in June 2008.
Joe Pesci was in his forties at the time of filming, though Tommy DeSimone, Pesci's character's inspiration was in his twenties.
At first, producer Irwin Winkler disagreed when Martin Scorsese cast Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. One night, Liotta approached Winkler in a restaurant and asked for a minute alone. They walked into the bar area, and Liotta told Winkler why he thought he was good for the role. Winkler called Scorsese the next day and told him to go ahead.
In the DVD commentary for the film, Henry Hill said that he still had nightmares about when he, Tommy, and Jimmy murdered Billy Batts.
Martin Scorsese liked Lorraine Bracco, largely due to how well she related to Karen, having grown up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. (She's not Jewish, though.)
Joe Pesci's Oscar acceptance speech is the sixth shortest in the Academy's history. All Pesci said was "it's my privilege, thank you", later admitting that he didn't say very much, because he genuinely felt that he didn't have a chance of winning. (The shortest acceptance speeches are "Thank you", made by Patty Duke in 1963 when she won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Miracle Worker (1962), "Thank you", made by Louie Psihoyos in 2010 when he won Best Documentary for The Cove (2009). Gloria Graham and Alfred Newman both said "Thank you very much" in 1963, and William Holden who said "Thank you. Thank you", in 1954. "Thank you. Very much indeed", was all that Alfred Hitchcock said when he won an Honorary Oscar in 1968, putting him one letter longer than Pesci.)
Nicholas Pileggi talked to Henry Hill constantly while writing the script with Martin Scorsese. He says the voice-overs are the key to the movie, and that they are almost exact quotes from Hill.
At the end of the movie, when Tommy fires a couple of rounds at the camera for no apparent reason, he's duplicating the final scene in The Great Train Robbery (1903).
According to Martin Scorsese, Marlon Brando tried to persuade him to not make the film.
Ray Liotta had said on a documentary special that his first person narration for the film was often done by him actually saying his narration to another person in a room. That way it felt more authentic, and made it easier for him to tell a story.
Henry states that he and Jimmy could never be "made", because they weren't of full Italian descent. This rule was changed in 2000 by the Commission (the five New York City families). A man can now be "made", provided his father is of Italian descent, and his last name is Italian. Nevertheless, this would still exclude Henry and Jimmy, as Henry's father in the film was Irish; while Jimmy's surname, Conway, is not Italian.
Robert De Niro was offered either the role of Jimmy "The Gent" Conway, or Tommy DeVito. He chose the former.
Lorraine Bracco demanded real jewelry to be used for Karen's dresser. The production designer rented expensive gold and stones that were protected by armed guards.
The name "Tommy DeVito" is a nod to Tommy DeVito, the lead guitarist of The Four Seasons, with whom Joe Pesci was friends.
In the book "Wiseguy", Henry Hill noted how Mafia-run neighborhoods were interestingly safe. On one occasion, an old lady was followed closely by a thug who later forced himself in her apartment. Hill said the entire neighborhood was watching, and within a minute, numerous people rushed over to the lady's apartment and grabbed the thug and assaulted him.
The long tracking shot through the Copacabana nightclub came about because of a practical problem: the filmmakers could not get permission to go in the short way, and this forced them to go round the back. Martin Scorsese decided to film the sequence in one unbroken shot in order to symbolize that Henry's entire life was ahead of him, commenting, "It's his seduction of her (Karen), and it's also the lifestyle seducing him". This sequence was shot eight times.
Henry Hill was paid roughly $550,000 for the film. According to Hill, it was chump change compared to the $15,000 to $40,000 a week he made during his gangster days. He claims he blew almost all of his mob money on partying and a "degenerate" gambling problem.
In 2000, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for the National Film Registry, for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant".
During one of the final scenes, Henry Hill opens his front door and picks up a newspaper. Close inspection reveals that the newspaper is the Youngstown Vindicator. Martin Scorsese included it as an homage to Youngstown, Ohio, which has been called "Mobtown, USA".
The film's name was changed from "Wiseguy" to avoid confusion with both the television series Wiseguy (1987) and Brian De Palma's similarly titled film, Wise Guys (1986). Charles Scorsese, Catherine Scorsese, and Frank Vincent appear in Wise Guys (1986) and this movie.
Mike Starr (Frenchy) played the same role in The 10 Million Dollar Getaway (1991), a Jimmy Burke (Conway) telling of the Lufthansa heist portion of this movie.
In the movie, Henry and Tommy are seen together many times. In real life, Henry's best pal, in his younger years, was Paulie, Jr., son of mob chief Paul "Paulie" Vario (renamed Paul "Paulie" Cicero in the movie).
According to Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese knew exactly how he wanted the movie to look from the beginning. They wrote scenes with certain shots and camera angles in mind.
Michael Ballhaus said that the scene when Henry walks across the street to beat Karen's neighbor in the face, with the butt of his gun, was the most violent scene that he felt he had ever filmed in his career.
When Karen sees Janice Rossi in the prison visitor registry, the name below is listed as "Ballibusteros".
Lorraine Bracco found the shoot to be an emotionally difficult one, because it was such a male dominated cast, and she realized if she did not make her "work important, it would probably end up on the cutting room floor".
Martin Scorsese originally wanted to use Frank Sinatra's version of "My Way" at the end. However, Sinatra would not allow Scorsese to acquire the rights to his version of the song. He had to use the version by Sid Vicious instead.
The film was met with very positive reviews and scored some major award nominations, but it took a few years to catch on as a critical classic. However, Roger Ebert was an early adopter when it came to calling this movie an all-time great, writing, "no finer film has ever been made about organized crime, not even The Godfather (1972)", all the way back in 1990.
Ray Liotta has said Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci "were the glitter and I was the glue."
Henry Hill's testimony against some of the most powerful Lucchese crime family associates led to over fifty convictions. As Hill learned at the very beginning of his career, Mafia rule number one is "never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut." In 2010, he told The Telegraph he has no idea why he was allowed to live as long as he did. "It's surreal, totally surreal, to be here. I never thought I'd reach this wonderful age." He theorized that he hadn't been murdered, because "there's nobody from my era alive." Following his death in 2012, The Guardian hypothesized that fame or bureaucratic disorganization in the criminal underworld might have been the reason.
Christopher Serrone, who played young Henry, wore blue contact lenses to match Ray Liotta's blue eyes. Serrone's eyes are actually brown.
Voted number one in Total Film's 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list (November 2005).
The movie's line "How am I funny?" was voted as the #87 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
The cast did not meet Henry Hill during the film's shoot, until a few weeks before it premiered. Ray Liotta met him in an undisclosed city; Hill had seen the film, and told the actor that he loved it.
Lorraine Bracco's two real-life daughters played Judy Hill at different ages. Margaux Guerard played Judy at age ten, and Stella Keitel played her at age four or five.
Joe Pesci and his character's name-sake Tommy DeVito are both featured as characters in the musical and film Jersey Boys (2014). At one point in that film, Joey (Pesci) remarks "Funny how?", just like Tommy in this film.
The film has forty-three songs in it, the equivalent of about four albums. Martin Scorsese had thought about all the songs and where they would appear long before he started filming, "three years before he shot the film", to be precise, according to music editor Christopher Brooks.
Henry Hill, convicted of another crime, eventually spent fourteen years in prison after getting his immunity.
Tuddy walked with a limp because of a prosthetic leg. He lost the real one in the Korean War.
Martin Scorsese saw this as the third film in an unplanned trilogy of films that examined the lives of Italian-Americans "from slightly different angles".
Ray Liotta was intimidated by Robert De Niro. He really wanted De Niro to like him. De Niro put Liotta at ease, saying, "Don't worry about it. This is all going to work out."
John Malkovich was considered for Jimmy Conway, but turned it down. Three years later, he took the role of Mitch Leary in In the Line of Fire (1993), which, coincidentally, Robert De Niro turned down, along with Jack Nicholson.
When Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco filmed the scene where Karen points a gun in Henry's face, during one take, Liotta threw Bracco off the bed, and the gun flew out of Bracco's hand and hit director of photography Michael Ballhaus in the head.
Barry Sonnenfeld took over as cinematographer for the last few days of filming, as Michael Ballhaus had to leave to shoot Postcards from the Edge (1990).
Originally, Martin Scorsese planned to make this before The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). When funding for the religious film finally materialized, he decided to postpone this film.
According to Ray Liotta on the Special Edition DVD, Sean Penn was also considered for Henry Hill.
Henry's last day as a wiseguy was the hardest part of the film for Martin Scorsese to shoot, because he wanted to properly show Henry's state of anxiety, paranoia, and racing thoughts caused by cocaine and amphetamine intoxication, which is difficult for an actor (who had never been under their influence) to accurately portray.
In the scene where Henry and Karen are on the floor of their bedroom, and Henry points the gun to her face, when he gets up, he accidentally steps on her hand.
When it came to the relationship between Henry and Karen, Lorraine Bracco saw no difference between an abused wife and her character.
Voted number six on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (September 2008).
The film's soundtrack did not include many of the songs featured in the film, most of them being the tracks played during the lengthy scene where Henry rushes around trying to make his drug deal. The songs sampled during the scene are, in order, "Jump Into the Fire" by Harry Nilsson, "Memo From Turner" by Mick Jagger, "Magic Bus" by The Who (from the Live at Leeds album), "Monkey Man" by The Rolling Stones, "Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters, "What is Life" by George Harrison, "Mannish Boy" again, and "Toad" by Cream.
The last film Martin Scorsese shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, until his return to 1.85:1 with his 3-D film Hugo (2011).
According to the book "Wiseguy", Paul Vario was so secretive about the Lufthansa heist that he did not even reveal to his own brother that his crew was responsible for the heist. When his brother Tuddy mentioned the large score was made by some crew, Henry Hill was amazed by Paul Vario's secrecy and silence.
In a interview for Reddit, Kevin Corrigan revealed how he was cast. Corrigan first learned about the film in 1989, when he read about it a magazine. He called his agent, told him he was a big fan of Martin Scorsese, and insisted that he become a part of this movie. He auditioned for Scorsese a month later, and before leaving, told Scorsese how much he loved his work. Corrigan said "Filming Goodfellas, for me, was like getting to be a bat boy for the Yankees during the World Series. I didn't feel like an actual player on the team, but I was given a job to do, and I was allowed to be on the field. It was the greatest feeling I had up to that point. I was twenty."
When Frank Vincent went to meet Martin Scorsese about being cast in the film, Scorsese asked Vincent which character he wanted to play, and he said he wanted the role of Paulie. Scorsese then said "Don't play Paulie, play Billy Batts."
Paul Sorvino had no problem finding the voice and walk of his character, but found it challenging finding "that kernel of coldness and absolute hardness that is antithetical to my nature, except when my family is threatened."
Jimmy Conway actually went by the name "Jimmy Burke". In the book "Wiseguy", the only known piece of information on Jimmy's actual family is that he "was born to a woman named Conway".
In October 2014, Frank Sivero filed a $250 million lawsuit against The Simpsons (1989) for using his looks and mannerisms to create a little-seen Springfield mob associate named Louie. According to Sivero, The Simpsons (1989) writers lived next door to him in Sherman Oaks in 1989. Louie debuted on the show during the episode The Simpsons: Bart the Murderer (1991). As of 2017, he has appeared in twenty-one episodes.
While the film showed one visit from Karen Hill to see Henry Hill in the prison visitor area. In reality, Karen had visited Henry numerous times on the outskirts of the prison grounds. This was due to Henry's job in the prison, where he worked on the prison grounds as a farm hand that did rough and odd jobs. They even had a picnic together one night, where she brought him rare meats and wine.
Ray Liotta joked that Warner Brothers would have rather cast Eddie Murphy than him, because of how little-known he was.
While Robert De Niro was not yet committed to the project, Martin Scorsese courted William Petersen for the role of Jimmy Conway. Petersen turned it down.
According to Irwin Winkler, Tom Cruise "was discussed" for the role of Henry Hill, and according to producer Barbara De Fina, Madonna was "in the mix" to the extent that Martin Scorsese scouted her at a performance of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" on Broadway.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #92 Greatest USA Movie of All Time.
According to Lorraine Bracco, Martin Scorsese told her to think of Karen as the "movie star" of the group.
Ray Liotta was thirty-five when filming. His character (Henry Hill) was supposed to be twenty-one when he first started dating Karen in the film.
A few scenes include taxis with a real phone number on the side. They're from Four Ones, a real cab service in Glendale, Queens, New York.
Nicholas Pileggi said that he and Martin Scorsese each wrote their own outline for the screenplay. Pileggi said that when they read each other's outlines, they realized that they were both very similar.
The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company's groundbreaking gangster film short The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) influenced Martin Scorsese's gangster films Goodfellas (1990) and Gangs of New York (2002). Scorcese chose it for his 2005 tribute at Beaubourg (1977) in Paris, France. Biograph, the oldest movie company in America, is still in business.
While Tommy, Henry, and Jimmy are having a late supper at the home of Tommy's mother, Jimmy can be seen pouring ketchup on his meal. This is accurate, and Henry remembers Jimmy liking ketchup over all his meals, including his steaks.
In the book "Wiseguy", Henry Hill noted that, despite Paul Vario being a big and overbearing man, he could move really fast. He mentioned that Vario once successfully chased someone with a baseball bat.
According to Edward McDonald, in the last courtroom scene, the original person who was going to portray the judge was white. However, Martin Scorsese found out that when that real trial was held, the judge was black. So Scorsese decided to have a black man portray the judge for accuracy, and also because Scorsese was always criticized for portraying black people in a negative way in his films.
In the movie, Henry and Tommy hung around a lot. In the book though, Tommy and Henry knew each other, but, the latter actually hung out more with Paulie, Jr., son of mob chief Paul "Paulie" Vario, who is Paul "Paulie" Cicero in the movie.
In the book, "Wiseguy", Henry Hill said he often supported Karen Hill and the family from prison by dealing in drugs using contacts he made in prison. Karen was even involved in smuggling drugs when she visited the prison. Since Henry was in jail when Karen went to visit the people that owed Henry money, they refused to pay or pled poverty. Henry sent the money he made in prison to support Karen and their children.
Unusually for a R-rated movie, this was spoofed as a weekday afternoon cartoon segment from Animaniacs (1993) called "Goodfeathers", about three pigeons, Squit, Bobby, and Pesto, resembling Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci, respectively, in the streets of New York City trying to survive. Not only do they look and sound like the three leads, but there's even voice-over narration, and a statue of Martin Scorsese. The cartoon also incorporated a spoof of The Godfather (1972), with the character of "The Godpigeon", who was drawn to resemble Marlon Brando, and speak in unintelligible mumbles that only Bobby can understand.
Joseph Bono has a small role as a gangster in this movie and Raging Bull (1980). Guido, Bono's character in Raging Bull (1980), only has a couple of lines. During the pool scene, Guido hears about a guy who was hitting on Vickie. He says, "That's the same guy..? I gotta break his legs... No, I'll catch him." In this movie, Bono has a cameo as a mobster named Mikey Franzese, who appears briefly as the camera pans through the Bamboo Lounge near the start of the movie. Mikey's only line was: "I haven't saw that guy. Yeah, I wanna see him."
The painting that Tommy's mother shows to Tommy, Jimmy, and Henry, is based on a picture from the November 1978 National Geographic.
This was the first film from the 90's to be inducted into the National Film Registry.
According to the book "Wiseguy", when Henry Hill angrily approached Karen's jealous neighbor who harassed her, the neighbor was with two of his brothers who each owned Corvettes. In the film, only one Corvette is present. Karen Hill's account of the event in the book was Henry had to be escorted in his car by police cars out of the neighborhood after the incident.
In the scene when Paul Sorvino slaps Ray Liotta, he didn't know this was going to happen and so Liotta's reaction is real. Sorvino improvised slapping Liotta.
Chuck Low, who plays Morris Kessler, is actually Robert De Niro's real estate agent, appeared in other De Niro films including "The Mission."
Martin Scorsese was inspired by Jules and Jim (1962), in particular the use of voice-over and freeze-frame.
Director of photography Michael Ballhaus said that the reason that he decided to shoot the film was because it was directed by Martin Scorsese, and he filmed it as a favor to him. He also said that had it been directed by someone else that he would not have filmed it. He also said that the material was not something that he would normally be interested in filming.
John Gotti's lawyer, Bruce Cutler, was not a fan of the film, and told Newsday in 1990 that John Gotti wouldn't have liked it either, saying, "He is too intelligent to waste his time to see nonsensical movies like that."
Robert De Niro pored over Nicholas Pileggi's unused research to prepare for his role.
When the camera cranes up to reveal the dead bodies in the pink Cadillac, the piano exit of Derek & The Dominos' "Layla" starts to play. Originally played in C major, the tape speed of the coda was increased during mixing. The resulting pitch is somewhere between C and C sharp.
In the movie, mob chief Paulie had a brother named Tuddy. While this is true, Paulie actually had one older brother Lenny, and a few younger brothers, the youngest of whom was Tuddy; Paulie was the second eldest.
Legend has it, "Never rat on your friends and keep your mouth shut" is part of a secret Mafia pledge recited by members of the criminal organization at the beginning of their meetings.
The final scene in which Tommy (Joe Pesci) fires at the camera or audience , is a Scorsese l'homage to "The Great Train Robbery" in which "The Bandit" does the same.
The young "extra" carrying a J&B box off the truck and into the Bamboo Lounge is Glenn Taranto.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Robert De Niro and Chuck Low also appear in The King of Comedy (1982), The Mission (1986) and Sleepers (1996).
First of two films starring Illena Doglas and Robert De Niro also directed by Martin Scorsese, the second one being Cape Fear(1991)
Compton's Most Wanted sampled the lines, "For most of the guys, killings got to be accepted.. Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line. You got out of line, you got whacked, everybody knew the rules" and "But sometimes, even the people who didn't get out of line, they got whacked. Hits just became a hazard for some of the guys. Shooting people was a normal thing, no big deal" for their song "Def Wish II".
To research her role, Lorraine Bracco tried to get close to a mob wife, but was unable to, because they exist in a very tight-knit community. She decided not to meet the real Karen because she "thought it would be better if the creation came from me. I used her life with her parents as an emotional guideline for the role."
Suzanne Shepherd (Karen's mom) and Mike Starr (Frenchy) appeared in "Uncle Buck" (1989).
The helicopter that follows Henry around all day before getting arrested was an Aérospatiale AS355 TwinStar.