A Bronx Tale
The road to success often is a difficult one. For Chazz Palminteri, it was a marathon. A lounge singer who always wanted to be an actor, he quit a decent paying gig to go to acting school in 1982. He got a few bit parts in television series, but wasn't on the road to fame and fortune, so Palminteri decided to write a play that could showcase his talents. The result was A Bronx Tale. If you normally don't like Robert De Niro or Chazz Palminteri, you should check this film out to see a different side of them.
The film version (don't worry, I'll tell you about the play later) stars Francis Capra as a nine year old boy, Collogero, growing up in the Bronx during the 1960's. It's a tough neighborhood ruled by a group of mobsters led by Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). He's the toughest guy on the block and someone feared by all. Collogero looks up to Sonny because he has money, respect and a nice car. His father, Lorenzo (Robert De Niro) is a bus driver who is proud of his life and the small fifth floor apartment where his family lives. Lorenzo doesn't have a lot of money, but he is a hard working, honest man trying to raise his son to be the same. He desperately wants to keep Collogero away from the influence of the mobsters, but it is a difficult struggle.
One day, Collogero witnesses Sonny shooting another man in the street in front of his apartment. Understanding the danger his family faces, Lorenzo tries to convince the boy to pretend that he didn't see anything, but Collogero tells the police that he did.
Will the young boy finger Sonny as the shooter?
That is just the beginning, but I'll keep quiet, so I don't ruin giveaway too much of the plot. The film centers on the conflict Collogero feels between love and respect for his father and admiration of the material goods and respect Sonny has. This sets up a great conflict between Lorenzo and Sonny that keeps the movie going.
I especially liked Palminteri's performance. He is suppoed to be the tough guy, but he shows a tender, protective side as well. That's all I can say without giving away too much.
In the late eighties, Palminteri was frustrated with his inability to land a great role in Hollywood, so he went to a local pharmacy, bought four legal pads, and wrote A Bronx Tale. Instead of trying to create something from nothing, Palminteri decided to draw upon his own life. As a young man, he grew up in the Bronx, a son of a bus driver, who lived in a fifth floor apartment. The one-man play was a smash hit in Hollywood and he moved to New York for a four month, sold out run. Sitting in the audience one night was Robert De Niro.
Producers were banging down the door to make A Bronx Tale into a movie, but Palminteri refused to sell the rights unless he was able to play the lead role of Sonny. For four years, producers tried to get him to yield in his demands, but he refused. Finally, De Niro stepped in and offered Palminteri the lead role if he could direct. It was a match made in heaven.
The film didn't make much money at the box office, but I think you will enjoy this touching tale. De Niro gets too wrapped up in trying to create ironic scenes of violence with inappropriately happy music. This would have worked once, but De Niro goes to the well too often. Unfortunately, De Niro has not directed another film which is a shame considering that he shows a great sensitivity and ability to portray the characters in a sympathetic light. This is a movie you should check out this weekend.
Directed by Robert De Niro
Written by Chazz Palminteri
Based on the play by Chazz Palminteri
Chazz Palminteri ... Sonny
Robert De Niro Lorenzo
Frank Capra Collogero at 9
Lillo Brancato .. Collogero at 17
Taral Hicks .. Jane
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