Paul Sorvino: a loose man who excelled as bricks from Mobster

When Paul Sorvino was offered the role of Paulie Cicero, a Queens mob boss in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990), he didn’t want much to accept her. In the first place, he was a proud Italian American. A connoisseur of Italian culture, especially food and music, was not inclined to play the Mafia. Plus, Sorvino, who died Monday at the age of 83, was a jovial young man, who loved to play gossip players. Polly was pretty much a brick. Much was done in the early scenes of the movie about how most criminals’ directions were carried out with just a gesture.

He accepted the role anyway and went to rehearsals. A few days before the shooting began, he called his agent and asked if he could release him on bail. At a 2015 session at the Tribeca Film Festival to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Goodfellas,” Sorvino mocked a bit of people who praised him for his “choices” in what became one of his signature roles. He mocked the idea of ​​”options,” insisting: “I found the man and the man made the choices.”

“It was very difficult,” Sorvino told commission director Jon Stewart. “I’m a poet, I’m an opera singer, I’m a writer…None of them are a gangster.” But then, a moment came for Sorvino. In his account of this painting, that was when he was strengthening his tie. In other accounts, he would remove a little spinach from between his teeth. In both versions, Sorvino looked in the mirror. There was a constant frown meeting him.

“I saw this guy.” And it was.

Sorvino’s vision of Polly was an incredibly accurate depiction of a man who appears, on the page, as simple and unpleasant as sudden death. In Wise Guy, the non-fiction book that was the basis for Goodfellas, author Nick Pileggi wrote, “It was a street concept that Paul Vario”—the gangster name was changed for the movie—”running a new one of York’s most ruthless gangsters. and violently.” In the city’s east New York area of ​​Brownsville, “the body count was always high, and in the 1960s and ’70s, Vario thugs did most of the strong-arm work,” Bilge explained, adding later, “There were always some heads being banged on picket lines, and pressure on businessmen to make their loan payments, freelancers to be straightened out on territorial borders, potential witnesses to the murder, and burying pigeons’ excrement.”

Vario, then, was a middle manager for Chaos. Sorvino played him as a man who kept his cool and try to To keep his followers in line.

Lots of “Goodfellas” movies (which air on HBO Max) are devoted to how three of the subordinates, played by Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro, are not committed. Pauli can be a tolerant and affectionate “father”. Sorvino uses his natural warmth when “good income earner” greets Jimmy (De Niro) at a casino in the back room early in the movie. Later, after supervising elaborate prison dinners, he had a special garlic-slicing system in place, and as soon as his cellmate Henry (Liotta) came in carrying wine and scotch, he declared, “Now we can eat.” Presiding over the celebration of Henry’s release from the knuckle, it’s Uncle Polly.

But when he plays the brick, he kills Sorvino. In that celebration, he brought Henry into his backyard. Henry was a drug dealer in prison with Polly’s tacit approval. Now in a steady frown, Pauli told Henry to “get away from the trash.” When Henry plays the idiot, Pauly doesn’t have it. “Don’t make me jerk. Just don’t do it.” Without losing any of the character’s external undertones, Sorvino cuts the words as if he’s cracking his necks.

Henry and his merry men either praise Paulie with a percentage of their illicit gains or lie to his face. Character dynamics are complex – Paulie looks very sharp Not He knows he was cheated, but what can he do about it? One thing he can do is eliminate Tommy Joe Pesci from the group, using his brother Tody Cicero (Frank DeLeo) as his lethal agent.

Pauli’s last words to Henry – “Now I’ll turn my back” – are as chilling as any of the film’s scariest scenes.

Sorvino’s decades-long career has been choppy. One of his first leading roles as a male rape victim was in the 1974 ABC movie Very Untrue, It Can’t Happen to a Nice Guy. In the 1974 edition of “The Gambler” (available to rent or buy on major platforms), he played his first character next door, a bookie named Hips, but this character wasn’t Paulie: he had a real personal affection for the title character (James Caan), more Hips customers are drunk and in debt.

For another taste of Sorvino’s more obvious, his role as Curtis Mahoney, an FBI agent posing as an investigative journalist in Mike Nichols’ hugely popular 1974 film Dolphin Day (available on Kino Now), is worth looking into. Far from being a witty mole, Mahoney is a stingy, very talkative mole. Sorvino is also as memorable as Edelson, the commanding officer of undercover cop Burns (Al Pacino) in William Friedkin’s film “Cruising” (from 1980; rent or buy on major platforms). Assigning his subordinate to work in the gay sex club underworld in Manhattan in search of a killer, Edelson inquires about Burns’ sexual history with the most rude questions imaginable, not an eyelash stroke.

Before and after “Goodfellas”, Sorvino was a regular presence in pictures directed and starring by Warren Beatty, most recently “Rules Don’t Apply” (2016). Sorvino’s films after ‘Goodfellas’ veered between the roles of India’s toughest characters like ‘The Cooler’ (2003) and ‘The Immigrant’ by James Gray (2014) and the usual giggling actor.

In 2018, the world learned how excited Sorvino can be off-screen. In response to the revelations about the ill-treatment and black-handling his daughter, actress Mira Sorvino, suffered at the hands of shame mogul Harvey Weinstein, Sorvino told TMZ he hoped Weinstein would serve his prison sentence: “Because if not, he has to meet me.” “. Then Sorvino told in no uncertain terms what would happen.

The role of a proud father motivated by justified anger and indignation was one that suited this performer well enough. But one wishes one did not have to live with it.

Glen Kinney is a critic and author of “Made Men: The Story of” Goodfellas. “

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