One of the well made underrated gangster film and a directorial debut of Robert De Niro. The influence of mentor Martin Scorsese is visible, the opening of the film reminds me of one of the great gangster film ‘Goodfellas’. It begins with a nine years old kid who grows up adolescent watching a gangster mob boss named Sonny close to his neighborhood and got fascinated by his power. ‘Nobody’s cool than you Sonny’, he tells to himself sitting and watching him on his stoop. Once he saved Sonny and soon becomes Sonny’s lucky boy. His upright bus driver father tries to make him out of it but his friendship with Sonny grows stronger day by day. Sonny wants to keep the boy away from the shit and but at the same time the boy’s got crush on black girl and is in the wrong company of some jerk off buddies.
De Niro built slow but intense gangster drama around the boy’s struggling conscience and choices between the gangster who told him, ‘working man is a sucker’ and his working class father who told him, ‘working man is a tough guy’. Along with the drama he also successfully captured the mood of shifting and swinging sixties with street life of blues and doo-wop, baseball and boxing ring, cool money, violence, hippy bike riders and black power and racial confrontations.
Two thumbs up for the cast and character portrayal, screenplay and dialogues, watch that scene where Sonny is explaining the young boy about Machiavelli’s ‘availability’. De Niro plays the concerning working class father and he’s okay in his act and the boy really looks like De Niro’s real life son. But the most impressive man of the film is played by Chazz Palminteri as Sonny and he’s the man who penned the screenplay of the film. If nothing one has to watch the film for his screenplay and act, must say worthy to watch.