In his directorial debut, two-time Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro stars as Lorenzo Anello, a hard-working bus driver who must stand up to the local mob if he is to keep his son from falling into a life of crime.
The streets of the Bronx are a tough place for a kid to grow up, you learn fast or lose everything. Lorenzo’s son Calogero learns about the virtues of hard, honest work from his father who owns nothing but his integrity; but he learns about easy money and life on the streets from the man who owns them, a mobster called Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). Now Calogero must choose between earning respect like his father, or commanding it like Sonny. Always one step away from a broken bottle, a pistol whipping or a shotgun blast, one young man, torn between two worlds just a city block apart, is about to learn that the streets run two ways. For every cent of easy money, there’s a tough, and sometimes deadly, lesson to be learned. –Cannes Film Festival
Considered the best actor of his generation, Robert De Niro has built a durable star career out of his formidable ability to disappear into a character, whether tempering his charisma to become a believable everyman or imbuing his renowned gallery of mobsters and psychopaths with a compelling, frightening authority. After rising to stardom in the 1970s with landmark performances as violent New York brutes in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), and Raging Bull (1980), not to mention his quietly bravura turn in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II (1974), De Niro appeared to falter in the 1980s. Rejuvenated after The Untouchables (1987) and Goodfellas (1990), as well as the founding of the Tribeca Film Center, De Niro picked up his pace in the 1990s, strengthening his fame into the 2000s with his hilarious self-parodies in the blockbuster comedies Analyze This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000).
The son of artists, De Niro was raised in New York’s Greenwich… read more
I think in respects this is as good as Scorsese's Mean Streets or Goodfellas, but is too flawed to be quite on the same level. I do wish De Niro would direct more films like this.
Francis Capra was way too much of a modern brat to De Niro's working-class father. That belt would have been off in a heartbeat. Otherwise an entertaining coming-of-age/period drama with an excellent soundtrack from the 50's and 60's. Some minor weaknesses here and there, but overall worth watching.
Definitely an underrated gangster film and one that I find myself continually returning to. It's definitely a different perspective of a familiar gangster tale, and has a number of scenes that are spectacular. Definitely has a place in my Top 50 of the 90s, I enjoy it that much.