August 28, 2015

Joe Pesci: A Recollection

You may not hear much from New York actor Joe Pesci anymore but his requirement in some of the most prominent movies of the last thirty five years is still remembered today. A private man, the 5’4 actor is hardly seen in the public eye now. Unfortunately confined to DTV movies in the latter part of his career, it is hard to believe that Pesci was one of the most sought after actors in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

We are going to head back to 1980 where it all started as we take a look at some of his most outstanding work!

The Raging Bull – 1980

Robert De Niro may have gone to great lengths to bring the real life boxer, Jake LaMotta to life but by no means did he steal the film! Joe Pesci played his brother, Joey. He was nominated for an Oscar and you can see why when you watch this brutally direct biopic! Pesci portrayed Joey as a long suffering soul but could be every bit as stern as his famous brother when confronted. The nature of the script gave a helping hand but it was something that was right up this actor’s street. Something that was going to be evident later on.

Lethal Weapon II – 1989

Dipping his toe into comedy, the second instalment in the Lethal Weapon series was decidedly lighter than its predecessor, and that was all to do with the presence of Joe Pesci. Playing a witness that had to be protected by Mel Gibson’s and Danny Glover’s Riggs and Murtaugh, he delivered his lines with excellent comedic timing and tone without overdoing it. Leo Getz, his character, was under threat toward the climax and it became one of those rare occasions when you felt distress for him. He was known mostly for playing bad guys, after all.

Goodfellas – 1990

Trying his hand once again in biopics on historical figures, Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito was every bit as intimidating and volatile. A ticking time bomb? Devito was a bomb that detonated over and over and did not pine for sympathy when he eventually met his demise at the hands of the people he thought he could trust. Pesci may have not won the Academy Award in 1981 for The Raging Bull but he got what he fully deserved ten years later in 1991 for this movie! Whether he was being unknowingly effortless, again he managed to almost outshine lead actor, Ray Liotta while Robert De Niro was unfortunately going through the motions.

Home Alone – 1990

In one of his best comedy roles, Pesci here plays Harry, the bumbling burger along with Daniel Stern’s Marv. Home Alone is a fun family movie, which was unfamiliar territory for Pesci. But he was at his comedic best and took full advantage of the final act to engage his talent for making people laugh to the maximum. Home Alone would not have been half as jolly had Pesci not been selected for the role, and unfortunately the next two sequels became a little too goofy and not funny. And guess who was absent? Yep.

My Cousin Vinny – 1992

It was about time that Joe Pesci was given a movie for him to lead all by himself and he finally got that chance when playing the slow-witted lawyer, Vinny Gambini. Co-starring Marissa Tomei, the two shared good chemistry on camera but Pesci was allowed to shine here, helped by a smartly written script and good direction by Jonathan Lynn. Credit also has to go to former Munsters star Fred Gwynne who plays the disillusioned court judge. No slapstick comedy here, My Cousin Vinny goes down the “smart comedy” route where situations are portrayed seriously. But things turn hilariously bad when Gambini comes to play in what is one of the best comedies of the 1990’s!


About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.



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