peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 03 05 ABronxTale

A Bronx Tale (1993)

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Sonny: Alright, listen to me. You pull up right where she lives, right? Before you get outta the car, you lock both doors. Then, get outta the car, you walk over to her. You bring her over to the car. Dig out the key, put it in the lock and open the door for her. Then you let her get in. Then you close the door. Then you walk around the back of the car and look through the rear window. If she doesn't reach over and lift up that button so that you can get in: dump her.
Calogero 'C' Anello: Just like that?
Sonny: Listen to me, kid. If she doesn't reach over and lift up that button so that you can get in, that means she's a selfish broad and all you're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. You dump her and you dump her fast.
— If only I'd known about the door test before now.

Robert De Niro's first directing effort; he had another go with The Good Shepherd a decade later but that's been it so far. I think he was fine as the actual bus-driving father of a kid growing up Italian in the Bronx but really the star and lead is Chazz Palminteri (soon enough huge in The Usual Suspects) who adapted the thing from his one-man play (!) — which would've been something to see.

Growing up in the hood... remind me where I've seen that before. The east coast may have a totally different vibe (here there's baseball but no basketball which might just be saying that Italians aren't big on the latter) but is just as lethal (not just on the colour line but also from the organised crime). There are many good bits but it's also a very familiar coming-of-age story; perhaps the twinned fathers complement each other just a bit too perfectly, each giving solid life lessons that leach the danger from the scenario. (Contrast it with the boy's excursion into the black neighbourhood where things get a bit Spike Lee.) The late cameo by Joe Pesci is somehow gold. I was disappointed to see that the younger cast, handled so well by De Niro, did not go on to bigger things. There wasn't much for the women to do.

Now that I think about it, the door test doesn't seem too well conceived as he was driving a convertible. And how about for a motorcycle?

Roger Ebert: four stars. It would've been great if they'd fleshed out Palminteri's neighbourhood mafioso some more. There's a scene of charred bodies that put me in mind of Once Upon a Time in America. Janet Maslin. The a cappella Doo Wop singers on the street. Mean Streets.