A Bronx Tale
|A Bronx Tale|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert De Niro|
|Produced by||Jane Rosenthal|
|Screenplay by||Chazz Palminteri|
|Based on||A Bronx Tale|
by Chazz Palminteri
|Edited by||David Ray|
Robert Q. Lovett
|Distributed by||Savoy Pictures|
|Box office||$17.3 million|
A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American crime drama film, adapted from Chazz Palminteri's 1989 play of the same name. It tells the coming of age story of an Italian-American boy, Calogero Anello, who, after encountering a local Mafia boss, is torn between the temptations of organized crime and the values of his honest, hardworking father. The Broadway production was converted to film with limited changes, and starred Palminteri and Robert De Niro.
De Niro, who first viewed the play in Los Angeles in 1990, acquired the rights from Palminteri, intent on making the play his directorial debut. The duo then worked heavily together on the screenplay, with Palminteri aiming to retain many of the aspects of the original script, as it was based largely on his own childhood. Production began in 1991, and was funded in collaboration with De Niro's TriBeCa Productions and Savoy Pictures, as the first film released by each studio.
Upon its release on September 29, A Bronx Tale achieved limited commercial success, grossing over $17 million domestically. However, it fared much better with critics, who praised the performances of the leads, and launched Palminteri's acting career, while also helping De Niro gain acceptance as a director.
In 1960, Lorenzo Anello (Robert De Niro) lives in Belmont, an Italian-American neighborhood in The Bronx, with his wife Rosina and his 9-year-old son Calogero (Francis Capra), who is fascinated by the local mobsters led by Sonny LoSpecchio (Chazz Palminteri). One day, Calogero witnesses a murder committed by Sonny in defense of an assaulted friend in his neighborhood. 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 better paying job, but Lorenzo, preferring a law-abiding life as an MTA bus driver, politely declines. Sonny 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 angrily warns him to keep away from Calogero.
Eight years later, Calogero (Lillo Brancato) has grown into a young man who has been visiting Sonny regularly without his father's knowledge. Calogero is also part of a gang of local Italian-American boys, which concerns Sonny, who warns Calogero to keep away from them and focus more on his schoolwork. Later on, Calogero meets a black girl, Jane Williams (Taral Hicks), and is smitten with her. Despite the high level of racial tension and dislike between Italian Americans and African Americans, Calogero arranges a date with Jane. He asks for advice from both his father and Sonny, with the latter lending Calogero his car so he can make a good impression. Later, Calogero's friends beat up some black cyclists who ride through their neighborhood, despite Calogero's attempts to defend them. One of the cyclists turns out to be Jane's brother, Willie. Willie mistakes Calogero for one of the assailants and accuses him of beating him up when Calogero and Jane meet for their date. Calogero loses his temper over the accusation and Willie's lack of gratitude, responding by accidentally addressing him with a racial slur, which he instantly regrets. Jane, disappointed, leaves with Willie.
At home, Calogero is confronted by his father who just saw him driving Sonny's car. An argument ensues and Calogero storms out. Shortly thereafter, Calogero is confronted by Sonny and his crew, who found a bomb in Sonny's car and suspected Calogero of planning to assassinate him. Calogero tearfully proclaims how he has come to view Sonny as a father and would never hurt him, and Sonny recognizes Calogero's innocence and allows him to leave. Lorenzo emerges to defend his son and confront Sonny, but is held back by Sonny's men. The black boys egg the Italian-American boys' usual spot in retaliation for the previous beating, and Calogero's friends make a plan to strike back using Molotov cocktails. They pick up Calogero in their car and try to force him to participate, but Sonny stops the car and orders Calogero out, warning them to stay away from Calogero. Calogero catches up with Jane, who tells him that Willie had since admitted that Calogero had tried to help him from the other boys who beat him up. Jane and Calogero make amends, but Calogero suddenly remembers his friends' plans to attack Jane's neighborhood and the two rush to stop them. During the attack, one of the Molotov cocktails is thrown back into the car window, igniting the remaining bottles. The resulting crash and explosion kills everyone inside. Calogero and Jane arrive to find Calogero's friends dead, and Calogero realizes that Sonny had saved his life.
Calogero rushes back to his neighborhood and makes his way through the crowded bar to thank Sonny and inform him of what happened, but an unnamed assailant shoots Sonny in the back of the head before Calogero can warn him. Calogero later learns that the assailant was the son of the man Sonny killed in front of Calogero's house eight years earlier. At Sonny's funeral, countless people come to pay their respects. When the crowd disperses, a lone man, Carmine, visits the funeral, claiming that Sonny once saved his life as well. Calogero does not recognize Carmine until he sees a scar on his forehead and realizes he was the assaulted man whom Sonny had defended eight years ago. Carmine tells Calogero that he will be taking care of the neighborhood for the time being, and promises Calogero help should he ever need anything. Carmine leaves just as Calogero's father unexpectedly arrives to pay his respects to Sonny, thanking him for saving his son's life and admitting 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 together as Calogero narrates the lessons he learned from his two mentors.
After acquiring the rights to create the film, with De Niro famously claiming the deal was struck solely with a gentlemen's agreement with Palminteri, the duo began crafting the screenplay. Prior to partnering with De Niro, Palminteri rejected several offers for the film's rights, including some as high as $1 million, if he was not granted the roles of primary screenwriter and Sonny, the gangster Calogero meets. This was due to the original play, which was performed as a one-man show, being largely inspired by or drawn from his own childhood, specifically the shooting Calogero witnesses as a child, as well as the occupation and name of his father.
A Bronx Tale received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 96% based on 28 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "A Bronx Tale sets itself apart from other coming-of-age dramas thanks to a solid script, a terrific cast, and director Robert De Niro's sensitive work behind the camera." Metacritic gave it a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "generally positive reviews".
Critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, calling it "very funny [and] very touching. 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 [while] retaining its values."
Sometime after the film's theatrical run, HBO released the movie on VHS, CD and in 1998 on DVD. The DVD is out of print, but in January 2010, Focus Features released a DVD copy of the film exclusive to online-retailer Amazon.
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|
- Kachka, Boris (2007-10-14). "How 'A Bronx Tale' Got Told – New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "A Bronx Tale (1993)". Box Office Mojo. 1993-11-16. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- Vlastelica, Ryan (March 2, 2016). "Chazz Palminteri on A Bronx Tale, Keyser Söze, and Stallone's career advice". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
- "A Bronx Tale". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "A Bronx Tale". Metacritic.
- "A Bronx Tale". rogerebert.suntimes.com. 1993-10-01. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
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