You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little
f**ked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse
you? I make you laugh, I'm here to f**kin' amuse you? What do you mean
funny, funny how? How am I funny?
As a boy Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) idolised the Luccese crime family, gangsters in his Italian neighbourhood in East new York, Brooklyn.....so much so that he left school in 1955 to work for them. It is the local mob capo Paul Cicero and his close assistant Jimmy Conway (De Niro) who assist in the grooming of Hill as a trusted member of the clan.....
As an adult we initially see henry and his associate Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) conspiring with Conway to steal some of the billions of dollars of cargo passing through Idlewild airport (JFK), and indeed they assist in carrying out a major heist which is inclusive in the theft of half of a million dollars from the Air France cargo terminal. For henry this allows him to gain more of Cicero's trust yet he is all too aware that neither he nor Jimmy can become 'made men' as both are half irish. Henry's friends become increasingly daring and dangerous. Conway loves hijacking trucks, and Tommy has an explosive temper and a psychotic need to prove himself through violence. At one point, he humiliates an innocent and unarmed young waiter "Spider", asking Spider to dance then shooting him in the foot. Later, when Spider stands up to Tommy, Tommy suddenly draws his gun and shoots Spider in the chest, killing him instantly. Henry also meets and falls in love with Karen, a no-nonsense young Jewish woman and they eventually marry.
In June 1970, Tommy (aided by Jimmy Conway) brutally murders Billy Batts, a made man in the competing Gambino crime family; a major offense that could get them all killed by the Gambinos if discovered. Henry, Conway and DeVito bury Batts' corpse in an abandoned field . When they discover six months later that the land has been sold, they are forced to exhume, move, and rebury the badly decomposed body. Meanwhile Henry's marriage deteriorates when Karen finds he has a mistress, Janice Rossi. Karen confronts a sleeping Henry with a gun as he wakes up. As soon as she lowers the gun, Henry subdues her and screams that he has enough on his mind having to worry about being whacked on the street without waking up with a gun in the face.
After dangling a debt-ridden Florida gambler over a lion cage at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Henry and Jimmy are caught and sent to prison for four years. There, Henry deals drugs to keep afloat and to support his family, and, when he returns to them, he has a lucrative drug connection in Pittsburgh. Cicero warns Henry against dealing drugs, since mob bosses can get hefty prison sentences if their men are running drugs behind their back.
Henry ignores Cicero and involves Tommy and Jimmy as well as his wife, and new mistress, in an elaborate smuggling operation. About the same time, December 1978, Jimmy Conway and friends plan and carry out a record $6 million dollar from the Luftansa cargo terminal at JFK airport. Soon after the heist, Jimmy grows paranoid when some of his associates foolishly flaunt their gains in plain sight, possibly drawing police attention, and begins having them killed off. Worse, after promising to welcome Tommy into the Lucchese family as a "made man," the elder members of the Gambino family, who are known associates of the Lucchesse family family instead kill him as retaliation for Batts' death.
In an extended sequence titled "Sunday, May 11th, 1980," all of the different paths of Henry's complicated Mafia career collide. He must coordinate a major cocaine shipment; cook a meal for his family; pick up his brother at the hospital; deliver guns; placate his mistress, who processes the cocaine he sells; cope with his clueless babysitter/drug courier; avoid federal authorities who, unknown to him, have had him under surveillance for several months; and satisfy his sleazy customers, all the while a nervous wreck from lack of sleep and snorting too much coke. Henry and his courier are arrested by police as he backs out of his driveway. Karen bails her husband out of jail, after destroying all of the cocaine that was hidden in the house. Henry and his family are left penniless.
After Henry's drug arrest, Cicero and the rest of the mob abandon him. Convinced that he and his family are marked for death, especially after a meeting with Conway, Henry decides to become an informant for the FBI. He and his family enter the federal witness protection programme, disappearing into anonymity to save their lives, but not before he testifies against Paulie and Jimmy in court. He is now an "average nobody"; "I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.".....
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