A Bronx Tale
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|A Bronx Tale|
|Directed by||Robert De Niro|
|Produced by||Peter Gatien
|Written by||Chazz Palminteri|
|Starring||Robert De Niro
Lillo Brancato, Jr.
|Editing by||David Ray|
|Distributed by||Savoy Pictures|
|Release dates||September 14, 1993 (Toronto Film Festival)
September 29, 1993 (U.S.)
|Running time||120 minutes|
A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American crime drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the 1960s. It was the directorial debut of Robert De Niro that follows a young Italian-American teenager as his path in life is guided by two father figures, played by De Niro and Chazz Palminteri. It also includes a brief appearance by Joe Pesci. It was written by Palminteri, based partially upon his childhood. The film grossed over $17 million domestically in the box office.
In 1960, Lorenzo Anello (Robert De Niro) is raising a family: he lives in the Bronx with his wife Rosina (Katherine Narducci), and his young son Calogero (Francis Capra), who takes a fascination with the local mobsters led by Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). One day Calogero witnesses a murder committed by Sonny in defense of an assaulted friend. When Calogero chooses to keep quiet when questioned by NYPD detectives, Sonny takes a liking to him and gives him the nickname "C". Sonny's men offer Lorenzo a job to make more money, but Lorenzo, preferring a law-abiding life, politely declines. Sonny, however, befriends Calogero and introduces him to his crew. Calogero earns tips amounting to $600 working in the Mafia bar and throwing dice, and is admonished harshly by Lorenzo when he discovers it. Lorenzo speaks severely to Sonny, returns the money, and warns him to keep away from Calogero.
Eight years later in 1968, Calogero (now played by Lillo Brancato, Jr.) has grown into a young man and has secretly been visiting Sonny regularly without his father's knowledge. Calogero is also part of a gang of local Italian boys he grew up around, even though Sonny tries to persuade Calogero to keep away from them and focus more on his schoolwork. Later on, Calogero meets an African American girl named Jane Williams (Taral Hicks), and is smitten with her. Despite the high level of tension and dislike between Italians and African Americans, particularly amongst Calogero's friends, Calogero arranges a date with Jane. He asks for advice from both his father and Sonny; the latter lending Calogero his car. Around the same time, Calogero's friends beat up black cyclists passing through their neighborhood; Calogero is powerless to stop them but does his best to defend a young man named Willie, who turns out to be Jane's brother. Willie, however, mistakes Calogero for one of the assailants and accuses him of beating him when Calogero and Jane meet for their date. In the ensuing argument, Calogero loses his temper at Willie's lack of gratitude and responds by addressing him with a racial slur, but then instantly regrets it. Heartbroken, Jane and Willie walk back to the car and leave Calogero.
At home, Calogero is confronted by his father, who saw him driving Sonny's car from the window. An argument ensues, and Calogero storms out. Suddenly, he is confronted by Sonny and his crew, who found a bomb in Sonny's car and suspected Calogero of planning to assassinate him. Calogero breaks down, proclaiming his love and dedication to Sonny, whereupon Sonny recognizes Calogero's innocence and allows him to leave. Lorenzo, who saw the mobsters roughing up Calogero, emerges to defend his son, but is held back by Sonny's men. The black kids egg the Italian boys' usual spot in retaliation for the previous beating, and in revenge, Calogero's friends make a plan to strike back using Molotov cocktails. They take an unwilling Calogero with them but during the ride, Sonny stops the car and orders Calogero out. Calogero catches up with Jane, who tells him that Willie had since admitted that the boy who beat him up wasn't Calogero, but Willie was angry and tried to hurt Calogero by lying about him. Jane and Calogero make amends, but Calogero suddenly remembers his friends' plans to assault Jane's neighborhood, and the two rush to stop them. However, upon arriving, Calogero and Jane see the boys' car destroyed. During the assault, someone had thrown one of the Molotov cocktails back into Italian boys' car through the window, igniting the remaining bottles, causing a crash and explosion, and killing all of Calogero's friends.
Calogero rushes to the bar to thank Sonny for saving his life, but the bar is crowded, and an unnamed assassin (the son of the man whom Sonny killed in the beginning of the film) shoots Sonny in the back of the head before Calogero can warn him. A funeral is then held for Sonny, where countless people come to pay their respects. Once they are all gone, a lone man, Carmine (Joe Pesci), visits the funeral, claiming that Sonny once saved his life as well. Calogero does not appear to know Carmine, but remembers him when he sees a scar on his forehead: the murder Sonny had committed outside Calogero's home eight years ago had been in defense of Carmine, who was being beaten by the assailant with a baseball bat. Carmine tells Calogero that he will be taking care of the neighborhood for the time being; he promises Calogero help should he ever need anything, and leaves just as Calogero's father arrives, surprisingly, to pay his respects to Sonny, and thank him for saving his son. Lorenzo says that he had never hated Sonny, but merely resented him for making Calogero grow up so quickly. Calogero makes peace with his father, and the two walk home as Calogero narrates the life lessons he learned from the two men.
- Robert De Niro as Lorenzo Anello
- Chazz Palminteri as Sonny LoSpecchio
- Francis Capra as Calogero "C" Anello (age 9)
- Lillo Brancato, Jr. as Calogero "C" Anello (age 17)
- Kathrine Narducci as Rosina Anello
- Taral Hicks as Jane Williams
- Joe Pesci as Carmine
- Clem Caserta as Jimmy Whispers
- Robert D'Andrea as Tony Toupee
- Eddie Montanaro as Eddie Mush
- Fred Fischer as JoJo the Whale
- Dave Salerno as Frankie Coffeecake
- Joe D'Onofrio as Slick (Age 17)
- Louis Vanaria as Crazy Mario (age 17)
Settings and filming locations
A Bronx Tale was filmed in three New York City neighborhoods. Though set entirely in the Bronx, only one of these locations was actually in that borough. The Fordham neighborhood in which Calogero lives was filmed in Astoria, Queens; the black neighborhood said to be on and around Webster Avenue was filmed at East 15th Street and Gravesend Neck Road in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; finally, the scene set on the Bronx's City Island was filmed in that location.
The film features music from the 1950s and 1960s including
- Donald Byrd
- John Coltrane
- The Beatles ("Come Together")
- Frank Sinatra
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience ("All Along The Watchtower")
- James Brown ("It's a Man's Man's Man's World")
- The Kinks
- Dion and the Belmonts ("I Wonder Why")
- The Moody Blues ("Nights in White Satin")
- Miles Davis
- Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns
- Dean Martin among others.
- The Four Tops ("Baby I Need Your Lovin'")
- The Flamingos ("I Only Have Eyes For You")
- The Moonglows ("The Ten Commandments of Love")
Palminteri adapted the screenplay from his one-man show of the same name. Several characters' names are based on himself: his real name is Calogero Lorenzo Palminteri. The show had successful runs in Los Angeles and Off-Broadway. Palminteri would not sell the rights to his story unless he could write the screenplay and was guaranteed the role of Sonny. At one point he was offered one million dollars, but refused because his conditions were not met. Later, De Niro saw the show and approached Palminteri. He said he knew about Palminteri's refusing to sell the rights. For the rights, he told Palminteri he would act in the film and meet Palminteri's conditions if De Niro could direct. De Niro said he was good to his word with only a handshake from Palminteri.
The film was a critical success, holding a current "Fresh" rating of 96% from Rotten Tomatoes, a 7.7 score on the IMDB and an average score of 80/100 from Metacritic. Critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, calling it "a very funny movie sometimes, and very touching at other times. It is filled with life and colorful characters and great lines of dialogue, and De Niro, in his debut as a director, finds the right notes as he moves from laughter to anger to tears. What's important about the film is that it's about values."
Sometime after the film's theatrical run, HBO released the movie on VHS and in 1998 on DVD. The DVD is now out of print, but in January 2010, Focus Features released an Amazon.com exclusive DVD copy of the film.
Awards and nominations
|1994||Artios Award||Best Casting for Feature Film||Ellen Chenoweth||Nominated|
|1994||Young Artist Award||Best Youth Actor Co-Starring in a Motion Picture Drama||Francis Capra||Nominated|
|1996||Jordi Award||Best Foreign Actor||Chazz Palminteri Also for Bullets Over Broadway and The Usual Suspects||Won|