Goodfellas" is a dramatization of life in the New York Mafia. It is based on the accounts of real life ex-gangster turned state evidence. He tells his story from when he was hired by a wiseguy as a teenager in the fifties, to the time he is put in the witness protection program in the seventies.The movie portrays the spirit of the Mafia and demonstrates their distinctive values, customs,gangster like lifestyle.
The Mafia is groups of criminals that developed for the purpose of protecting those who can not go to the police for protection. Its roots can be traced back to Sicily, where the Mafia was based on the premise that any member suffering an injustice was to take personal vengeance while avoiding all contact with legal authorities. Even in the modern day American Mafia, each family ruled it's own territory and when others from outside the territory interfered they were dealt with through violent methods.The wiseguys paid for their protection by paying the head of their local family. This payoff was also known as paying tribute to the boss.
Many of the Mafia's morals and policies were identified throughout the movie. Some of the informal rules held by the Mafia were the codes of trust and silence. In other words, never rat on a friend and keep your mouth shut. These rules were highlighted when the narrator, Henry Hill, had his first arrest. He was brought to court, defended by a Mafia paid lawyer and after his release he received praise and money from the family for honoring the code. This was considered his Mafia graduation and as important as losing his virginity.
It was alsocommon for the mob to buy their
way in and out of the trouble with bribes to local authorities and officials. Because of fear and respect of family members in the community, it was very easy to persuade the authorities to look the other way when crimes were committed.
Mafia business transactions were usually done face to face as a one to one communication. No one but the two parties talking knew what was said. Business was rarely discussed around a board table or in a group meeting. When an action needed to be taken to correct a problem with a family member or to settle a dispute with a different family's member, the bosses communicated directly. They were private conversation between the boss and the person involved.
The Lufthansa heist clearly illustrates this. Every one involved had their own job to do, but that is all they knew, their own job. If they knew what other people's jobs were to be it was considered too much information. If they got caught they only knew what they had to do and couldn't "rat" on anyone else. Only the boss knew what everyone's job was. The theory was the less you know the safer you were.
Some of the important values depicted in this movie had to do with family and family position.The Mafia placed great emphasis on family. They demanded that their members respect their wives and provide for their children as well as honor the Mafia family. This was best shown when Henry Hill moved in with his girlfriend and Pauly and Jimmy met with him to tell him he must go back and make peace with his wife.
The symbols of the family values were the huge children's birthday parties, the expensive gifts given to the wives and the homes. To promote this social value your family were your friends and your friends were the family, no outsiders were allowed.
A member's position or family status was one of the most important Mafia values. There was no social value placed on earning a legitimate week to week paycheck for hard work. Great social value was given to the wiseguy who had the position and status to take whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
This value was symbolized by the celebrity status that the neighborhood and local businessmen gave them. Other symbols were the flashy jewelry worn the expensive clothes and big cars.
Usually a member took a liking to a neighborhood kid and offered him a job. As the kid built trust the boss would slowly work the kid into more criminal type jobs, like running numbers m

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