With all due respect to Godfather I and II, GoodFellas is arguably the greatest movie about the mob ever made, and it had great source material, the best-selling book Wiseguy, by Nicholas Pileggi.
After seeing GoodFellas, I read the book, and feel it’s one of the best book to screen adaptations I’ve seen. (Casino is also an interesting read because you learn more depth and texture about the characters in the film).
Pileggi co-wrote the GoodFellas and Casino screenplays with Martin Scorsese, and how he’s back in the saddle again – heading back to Vegas to work on Ralph Lamb, a show for CBS that Walk the Line director James Mangold will direct.
Lamb was the real life sheriff of Vegas, and as Deadline reports, he was a former cowboy, which may have inspired the line in Casino, “This sheriff is a real cowboy,” because Lamb stood strong against the mob. According to Deadline, “There has been speculation that if mobsters were causing too much trouble, Lamb’s men simply killed them, but Lamb had denied such murders have ever occurred.” Meanwhile, Deadline is also reporting that Pileggi is involved with a possible TV series based on GoodFellas which was announced last year.
When Scorsese originally contacted Pileggi about turning Wiseguy into a movie way back when, Pileggi thought one of his colleagues at New York magazine, film critic David Denby, was playing a joke on him. Then Scorsese got him home number, and called, introducing himself, saying, “My name is Marty Scorsese, I’m a movie director.” Pileggi said, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call all my life.”
Pileggi has been amazed at the life GoodFellas has had since it was released over twenty years ago in 1990.
“I had no idea it would resonate as it did in the beginning, and that it has continued,” he says. “I keep thinking of it as a cult movie, but it’s not a cult movie really. You think of a cult movie as something that a couple of hundred thousand people like, and they have secret screenings at midnight. But Goodfellas was really a major commercial movie, and it’s quite fascinating that it had that appeal. It was a street person’s movie, and the wiseguys all love it!”