Michael Franzese used to be caporegime of New York’s Colombo crime family. Now, after leaving that life behind for a career as an author and motivational speaker, Franzese is uniquely qualified to talk about lots of interesting things the public usually doesn’t get to hear—like, say, how accurate beloved mafia movies and TV shows are next to real-life.
Franzese sat down with Insider to watch a selection of famous scenes, rating each of them out of ten. First up is Sonny Corleone’s toll booth murder from The Godfather, which rates only a 4/10 because, for one thing, “there’s too much work involved” in the group ambush. Tony Soprano’s visits to Dr. Melfi are also called out. “If a mob boss was ever visiting a psychiatrist, he’d be in the trunk of his car by the end of the week along with his psychiatrist,” Franzese says, which might make the concept unrealistic, but does serve as the basis for one of the bigger plot points from the show’s first season. Donnie Brasco, especially its heavy use of “fugeddaboutit” and frequent “sit downs,” gets a perfect 10/10. Joe Pesci also receives top marks as “the best portrayer of any mob guy” on screen.
Other valuable takeaways? Franzese, watching a scene from Analyze This, points out that there was always a big dude in mob crews and families because, y’know, “Italians eat a lot and some of ‘em get real big.” He also likes Robert De Niro’s suits in Casino, which remind him of how often members of the mafia dressed up to attend weddings and funerals nearly every weekend, even for people they didn’t know, “as a matter of respect.” Also, just so you know, the actor who plays Franzese in Goodfellas doesn’t “look like [him.]”
Watch the whole video for more of Franzese’s thoughts on everything from The Irishman and A Bronx Tale to Mean Streets and, for good measure, The Simpsons.
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