The Godfather, Sopranos and Beyond

With the impending Sopranos Prequel, I thought it might be fun to start where it all began.  I started actually reading The Godfather, but am also watching the trilogy on DVD (what the heck?).  In my humble opinion Godfather Part II is the clear winner of this trilogy, but there has been NOTHING close to the iconic Sopranos series.  Say what you will about the ending, but the show itself was brilliant from start to finish.  Though I was sucked into GOT, it pales in comparison (with an even worse ending).  Yeah, I'll skip talking about the different genres, as it's a moot point.  

So here may be a place to discuss all things Goombah.  For an interesting offshoot, if you haven't read a book called Tough Jews by Rich Cohen, it's worth owning a copy.  Should we start with The Godfather? Back into it from The Sopranos?  Discuss Jersey City?  Make a choice....


Like! Agree! 

I love this genre so much. I've seen Goodfellas so many times. Just watched GF 1 and 2 again in the last 2 months - and watched the rejiggered Pt.3. It's better but it still pales in comparison to 1 and 2. 


The_Soulful_Mr_T said:

Like! Agree! 

I love this genre so much. I've seen Goodfellas so many times. Just watched GF 1 and 2 again in the last 2 months - and watched the rejiggered Pt.3. It's better but it still pales in comparison to 1 and 2. 

 We could have hung out and watched together - so funny.  Go pick up Tough Jews, man.  I also have a book that talks about real mafia places and what they are today all over NYC and upstate NY that you might be interested in as well.  There was this one restaurant upstate NY that was a big meeting place for mafia family trying to 'hide' from the law by driving outside of the city.  Let me know what you think about Tough Jews.  Also, have you seen any of the clips for the Sopranos Prequel?  I'm pretty excited about the prequel, and here is a little teaser - https://www.tvguide.com/news/the-many-saints-of-newark-the-sopranos-movie-prequel/#:~:text=Here%27s%20a%20rundown%20of%20everything%20we%20know%20so,It%27ll%20involve%20a%20character%20you%20know...%20sort%20of.


another book about Jewish mobsters is Bummy Davis vs. Murder Incorporated.  Holy cow those guys were brutal.


ml1 said:

another book about Jewish mobsters is Bummy Davis vs. Murder Incorporated.  Holy cow those guys were brutal.

 Right up my alley! Thanks.  Have you read Tough Jews?  Rich Cohen is an awesome author, it's very relatable.  


We had a house in Long Branch going back to 1971. We had a neighbor who was a criminal defense lawyer and one Saturday I suggested going out to dinner at a place the Surf Lounge. It was owned by a mobster by the name of "Pussy" Russo, a member of the Genovese crime family. My neighbor represented Pussy. We used to kid that you had to check the trunk of your car when you left the restaurant to make sure there wasn't a dead body in it. Anyhow, when I suggested the Surf for dinner, my neighbor said he never use to to be able to go there because his clients use to go there but they were all dead. 

Pussy was shot to death in Long Branch in 1976 while on Easter furlough from prison. 

eta - The food at the Surf was execellent. It was on the beachfront and was torn down to build a condo. 


Jerry Catena (the father of Ray Catena) was a top member of the Genovese crime family and lived in Newstead, in a house with a tennis court. At the time, he was the fourth richest mobster in the U.S. 


N.J. Stuff..... Military Park building, Park Place, Newark. Dutch Schultz was fatally shot behind that building. His blood is probably still on the wall... at least it was in the 1960's when I worked there. It was in a sheltered area where rain never hit. Dave, who worked there at the time of the shooting, showed me the site. 

As I recall, he was shot after he left the barber shop around the corner from Park Place. The barber shop may still be there.

Probably 60's. I believe a mafia member had his brake line cut. He lived on the hill, probably Newstead. His car wouldn't stop when he was driving down the hill on South Orange Avenue. As per an old Midas commercial, "Its one thing when your car won't start. Its another think when your car won't stop."

About 10 years agoUs'ta be a car parked on Maplewood Avenue, White Caddy. "Goodfella" was on the continental kit.

Then we go to my friend, Mike. He claimed he had Mafia relatives. I didn't know if he was bulls...g or not.

In the 70's I was scalping tickets, part time. I advertised in Star-Ledger, Rolling Stone, Village Voice and so forth. A Stones concert came up in Buffalo. I had a couple'a hundred seats so I advertised in Buffalo and Syracuse papers and sold tickets by mail.

One day, an envelope arrived with a money order for a couple'a hundred. --- along with a note: "I am in the mafia. If I don't get the tickets, you will have a visitor at your front door." I took the letter to Mike, "Get load of this."

Mike: "Send him the tickets like you always do, with return receipt. Give me the letter, If he is family, he shouldn't be aggravating civilians. If he isn't family, he shouldn't be ruining our reputation." I gave Mike the letter and forgot about it.

About three weeks later, I got a letter of apology from the guy. I thanked Mike. 


OK, so I dug in my basement and found this book.  I bought it years ago at the Tenement Museum bookshop on the Lower East Side.  It's called Manhattan Mafia Guide, Hits, Homes & Headquarters, by Eric Ferrara.  I grew up in Canarsie, and there was definitely an Italian/mafia connection there.  We were not far from Howard Beach, which is infamous by the way.  Also, a family named Gaurino (not sure I'm spelling correctly) owned a funeral home.  I can't validate, but we were all convinced it was a mob family.  


President Street in Brooklyn... a couple of the characters lived there.


TheJmon said:

ml1 said:

another book about Jewish mobsters is Bummy Davis vs. Murder Incorporated.  Holy cow those guys were brutal.

 Right up my alley! Thanks.  Have you read Tough Jews?  Rich Cohen is an awesome author, it's very relatable.  

 I have not read that one yet but I should give it a try.


jamie said:

It's cool that Gandolfini's son will be playing the role of a young Tony Soprano:

https://www.today.com/popculture/james-gandolfini-s-son-looks-just-him-new-sopranos-prequel-t207313

Never mind....


It's very strange seeing Gandolfini in movies, after watching him in The Sopranos. I just saw him in Get Shorty, in which he has a minor role. (But he did play an enforcer.) 


cramer said:

It's very strange seeing Gandolfini in movies, after watching him in The Sopranos. I just saw him in Get Shorty, in which he has a minor role. (But he did play an enforcer.) 

 He was quite good in a cute romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus called Enough Said (2013). One of his last films. It's on Prime. 


The casting of Steve Van Zandt as Silvio was interesting. He had never been in an acting role before. We saw him many years ago at an Indian restaurant in Atlantic Highlands - wearing a bandana. 


The_Soulful_Mr_T said:

cramer said:

It's very strange seeing Gandolfini in movies, after watching him in The Sopranos. I just saw him in Get Shorty, in which he has a minor role. (But he did play an enforcer.) 

 He was quite good in a cute romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus called Enough Said (2013). One of his last films. It's on Prime. 

 I saw it and it is very good. 


Another thumbs up for Enough Said.

Gandolfini was also in another movie I saw recently called Fallen (1998) with Denzel Washington, Donald Sutherland, John Goodman. Hadn't seen it before. Also very good.


The_Soulful_Mr_T said:

 He was quite good in a cute romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus called Enough Said (2013). One of his last films. It's on Prime. 

 I agree, he added a certain depth to any role he played.  Still, he was Tony through and through.  I'm looking forward to his son playing a young version of Tony, hope he pulls it off.  


cramer said:

The casting of Steve Van Zandt as Silvio was interesting. He had never been in an acting role before. We saw him many years ago at an Indian restaurant in Atlantic Highlands - wearing a bandana. 

 Steve Van Zandt is quite the 'Jack of all trades', actually.  He definitely played that role to it's fullest, though was pretty hilarious in Lilyhammer.  I couldn't get into it, because the accents are authentic and hard to understand at times (not his, but the other characters).  As the backbone of The E Street Band, he has forever laid his mark there as well.  He also hosts a show on Sirius/XM Called Little Steven's Garage, which is quite good.  To listen to him orate about music and history at the same time is a thing of beauty.  


I couldn't get into Lillyhammer either, and I use to spend a lot of time in Norway. 


It's about as far from a mob movie as you can get, but in "The Best Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen," Jason Alexander talks about living in Irvington, Maplewood and Livingston as the son of someone in what he called the "Jewish Mafia" and cracks "There were murderers at my Bar Mitzvah."

The film is a documentary about the very young cast (including Alexander) that Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince put together for "Merrily We Roll Along" in the early '80s.

My favorite moment in "Lillyhammer" occurred shortly after Stevie's character got to Norway and this New York mobster is bumfuzzled by the country's months-long multi-stage process for obtaining a driver's license.


I'm giving Lillyhammer another chance now, as all this talk about mobsters has me itching for more.  I will tell you I remember why I actually stopped watching in the first place.  It's not so much the story or the actors, but the pace.  I hate to make a reference to a dance step, but it's very 'Quick, quick, slow'.  That works for some stories, and apparently did for another season of this show.  My other turn off to watching the series again? It ended and goes in the limbo of what I've watched.  The cycle of Netflix and all of these streaming services is that there is always a build up to an ending.  I'd much rather there was a build up to another season, then another.  Seems like we can talk about other shows that went the distance, then stop dead in their tracks with an unsatisfying conclusion that does not promise more (GOT anyone?).  

To my point - You could open up the Sopranos again and have the same quality you had back when it ended.  I can't think of another series with that sort of longevity that would inspire another six seasons if it was brought back in some form.  Six Feet Under? Maybe.  Curb Your Enthusiasm? Nope.  Boardwalk Empire? Perhaps.  


TheJmon said:

....  I can't think of another series with that sort of longevity that would inspire another six seasons if it was brought back in some form.  Six Feet Under? Maybe.  Curb Your Enthusiasm? Nope.  Boardwalk Empire? Perhaps.  

 The Wire.  Breaking Bad. Person of Interest.  

We gave BB and P o I a second full binge watch. They hold up. We are now on season, 2nd viewing of The Wire. Still good. 

We may try Halt and Catch Fire.


Breaking Bad holds up. We didn't even watch it until last year. 


Probably the most famous Jewish mob boss in NJ was Longie Zwillman, who was from Newark. Longie took over Dutch Schultze's NJ operations after Shultze was murdered. Longie made an appearance in Phillip Roth's "The Plot Against America" and his mob actually beat-up Nazi sympathizers or members of the Bund in Newark and Irvington. The FBI approached Meyer Lansky and said they couldn't do anyting about the Nazi sympathizers and asked for his help. Lanksy talked to Zwillman and Zwillman formed the Newark Minutemen, which consisted of other Jewish mobsters and Jewish boxers. 

Longie's sister in law was a good friend of my mother in law. 


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 The Wire.  Breaking Bad. Person of Interest.  

We gave BB and P o I a second full binge watch. They hold up. We are now on season, 2nd viewing of The Wire. Still good. 

We may try Halt and Catch Fire.

Funny you should mention Person's of Interest, as I have actually binged watched that at least three times I can remember.  Could not get behind Evil, though - the actor who played Harold plays such a disturbing character I had to take a hard pass mid season.  Breaking Bad? Just like that show about the undertaker, it got too graphic too fast for me.  Though I loved the acting, that scene with the blood seeping through the ceiling freaked me out.  I would probably like The Wire, as I've heard good things about it.  I think I have Halt and Catch Fire on a list somewhere.  


Halt and Catch is loosely based on Compaq Computer's history


TheJmon said:

 We could have hung out and watched together - so funny.  Go pick up Tough Jews, man.  I also have a book that talks about real mafia places and what they are today all over NYC and upstate NY that you might be interested in as well.  There was this one restaurant upstate NY that was a big meeting place for mafia family trying to 'hide' from the law by driving outside of the city.  Let me know what you think about Tough Jews.  Also, have you seen any of the clips for the Sopranos Prequel?  I'm pretty excited about the prequel, and here is a little teaser - https://www.tvguide.com/news/the-many-saints-of-newark-the-sopranos-movie-prequel/#:~:text=Here%27s%20a%20rundown%20of%20everything%20we%20know%20so,It%27ll%20involve%20a%20character%20you%20know...%20sort%20of.

 If you watched The Sopranos, you've seen a lot of familiar local spots.  Maybe not real historical places, but it was fiction anyway.  Loved coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel in the opening & knowing another hour of Tony & the gang was ahead of me.  And Paterson Falls!  If you haven't been, go.  Not only for Soprano memories, but for the history of the place.  Look up why there's a statue of A. Hamilton there.



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