"I always wanted to be a gangster." Well, no, I didn't. But Henry Hill did and because of that we got one of the most classic movies of all time, Goodfellas. But Hill has died, at 69 years old, of heart failure. Normally, when famous people die, everyone is full of accolades about what a wonderful person he or she was -- but one can't really do this with Hill. He was a thief, murderer, and all around mob guy. But he also was part of the cultural canon of gangsterhood, and Goodfellas is, to my mind, Martin Scorsese's best film. Yes, even more so than Raging Bull. It's chock full of classic performances, music, scenes, and lines. And none of them would exist without two-bit hood Henry Hill.
Hill grew up Irish-Italian in Brooklyn and began running with gangsters when he was just a kid. By 21, he was influential, powerful, and wealthy due to his Mafia activities. You remember that famous scene in Goodfellas when Henry (played amazingly by Ray Liotta) brings his date, Lorraine Bracco, to a nightclub, and the maitre'd puts a table right up front for him and people begin sending over bottles of champagne out of respect? Lorraine is all, "Ooohhh, who is this?"
Of course, things quickly go south, both in Henry's relationship and in his life, as they tend to do in the Mafia. One can only beat, rob, extort, and kill for so long before either your best friend, your worst enemy, or the FBI catch up to you.
Henry got lucky in that he entered the Witness Protection Program and spent the rest of his life in semi-hiding, living off his infamy.
Here are some of the funnier Tweets this morning about Henry:
Mark Campbell @MrWordsWorth: Henry Hill has died, or as I call it 'he's joined the ultimate witness protection program.'
Steve Hughes @moviegoblin: Henry Hill, the real Goodfella played by Ray, has died. Can't wait to read the obituary tomorrow once I get the papers, get the papers.
Sixth Form Poet @sixthformpoet: RIP, Henry Hill. Murder, robbery, extortion, arson, drug-dealing and adultery aside, you were one of the good guys.
Matt Oswalt @Puddinstrip: "He's gone, and we couldn't do nuthin about it. That's it. He's gone (clears throat) He's gone...and that's it" - Henry Hill's coroner
And here's the famous "Funny? Funny how?" scene from the movie. Unless you work somewhere that four-letter words are the norm, best play this with the sound down low:
Image via greatmovieclips/YouTube