Tag Archives: mafia

My Favorite Mobsters: My Picks of the Top Ten “Made Men” to Grace the Silver and Small Screen

Why are we so fascinated by mobsters?  Is it the way they talk?  (“Fuhgeddaboutit!”  “I’m gonna make him an  offer he can’t refuse!”  “Go to the mattresses.” “I amuse you?  I make you laugh?”)  Their funny accents?  Those snazzy suits and hats they always wear? 

Or perhaps it’s something deeper.  After all, mafia men are loyal to a fault.  They adhere to a strict code of honor.  They place the institution of  “family” above all else.  If you really think about it, mobsters were the first, and ultimate, “bad boys.”  The most successful ones are powerful, strong,  sexy . . . and deadly dangerous.

So, without further adieu, here’s my list of the Top Ten Fictional Mobsters of all time . . .

10) Fat Tony  – The Animated Mobster

Show of origin:  The Simpsons

Played by:          Joe Montegna (he does the voice)

Why he made the list: 

Fat Tony is a successful amalgamation of pretty much every movie and television mobster ever invented.  But he still manages to have his own unique style.  It’s really hard to be intimidating when you are drawn in colored pencil, and have a face like a muppet.  Yet, Fat Tony somehow manages to be genuinely menacing.  Interestingly enough, the character’s appearance is based on that of an actor who frequently appears in mafia films (and was just shy of making this list).

Paul Sorvino (Now can you see the resemblance?)

9) Sonny – The Mobster with a Heart of Gold

Film of origin:  A Bronx Tale

Played by:        Chazz Palminteri

Why he made this list:

Sure, Sonny may have shot a man in cold blood over a parking space, but it was really to protect Joe Pesci!  And, yes,  Sonny beat the stuffing out of an entire biker gang, but they had been destroying family-owned bars across the country!  When you really think about it, this New York mob boss was a pretty good guy, as far as racketeering murderers go.  And he seemed to really care about young Calogero (“C”). 

Sonny acted as a second father to C (His biological father was played by Robert De Niro, who is also on this list, TWICE.  However, not for this movie, where he played a law-abiding bus driver.)  He taught C the ins and outs of life, lectured him about staying in school, gave him advice on women, tried to keep him away from a life of crime, and, most importantly, saved his life.  Oh, and he also taught him how to gamble.  Gambling is fun!

8) Consigliere Tom Hagen – The Smart Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I and II)

Played by: Robert Duvall

Why he made the list:

Not all mobsters were Italian.  Some were of German and Irish descent, like Tom Hagen.  (Can’t you tell by the name?)  Tom was an educated man, a lawyer.  He acted as a sage, and mild-mannered advisor, first to Vito Corleone, and, later to his son, Michael.  Despite, living and working amongst mobsters, Tom more or less managed to keep his hands clean.  And while he remained loyal to The Family throughout his life, he did so without ever committing an act of violence.  (Then again, he did convince that one guy to commit suicide.  Not cool, Tom!)

7) Sylvio Dante  – The Loyal Rocker Mobster

Played by :         Steven Van Zandt

Show of origin:  The Sopranos

Why he made the list:  

Oh how, I love Sylvio, let me count the ways.  First and foremost, he has cool Elvis hair.

And the actor who plays him rocks out with a band from my home state of NEW JERSEY!  Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, of course!

Silvio was probably the toughest muscle of Tony Soprano’s gang.  However,  unlike the hot-headed Paulie Walnuts (we’ll get to him later), he never lost his cool.  When others came to doubt Tony’s leadership, Sylvio was unfailingly loyal.  Sylvio detested rats above all else, and most of his victims were snitches and informants of some sort.  (And no one likes THEM, anyway, right?)

6) Jimmy “The Greek” Conway – The Strong and Silent (but Deadly) Mobster

Film of origin:   Goodfellas

Played by: Robert De Niro

Why he made this list:

Like Tom Hagen, Jimmy is an Irish mobster (although, truthfully, it’s hard to imagine De Niro as anything other than Italian).   And like Silvio, he is the mild-mannered muscle of his crew.  Although, Jimmy’s origin of descent prevented him from becoming a true “made man,” he never complained.  While his hands may have been dirtier than anyone else’s in his Family, Jimmy never let his job diminish his sense of class and style.  A

fter a big score had left them with untold riches, Jimmy cautioned his crew against dressing and behaving too ostentatiously.  Oh yeah, and the dude can smoke a cigar like no one’s business . . .

5) Vito Corleone – The Old School Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I and II)

Played by:       Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro

Why he made the list:

Honestly, how could I make a mobster list, without including the original mobster himself?  Vito was the King of the Mobsters.  The mobster on which all subsequent film and television mobsters are undoubtedly based.  And if his character didn’t have to go and die on us at the end of the first Godfather movie (we saw him in the second one only through flashbacks), I have no doubt that he would be significantly higher on this list. 

You know what?  I’m not even going to tell you why Vito is so cool.  I’m going to let him show you for himself . . .

4) Paulie Walnuts – The Wal – NUTS Mobster

Show of origin: The Sopranos

Played by:          Tony Sirico

Why he made the list:

In short, Paulie made this list because he is bat sh*t crazy!  If Silvio is the man on the Soprano’s crew you’d most want to have your back, Paulie is the one you’d most want to take out for beers.  Between his kick ass one-liners, his random flip outs, and his childlike constant need for approval, hot-headed Paulie Walnuts is nothing if not entertaining.  And talk about loyalty to family, the dude beat up an old lady, just because she wasn’t playing nicely with his mother!  Plus, he has awesome Pepe Le Pew hair . . .

(Notice the resemblance?)

3) Tommy DeVito – The Loudmouthed Mobster

Film of origin: Goodfellas

Played by: Joe Pesci (Here’s another guy that I couldn’t dream of making a Mob Hit List without!)

Why he made the list:

I’m pretty sure, a lot of what is awesome about Paulie Walnuts was inspired by this guy.  Tommy DeVito was a hotheaded sociopath, who loved killing and beating the crap out of people. In fact, he did it regularly, often for NO REASON AT ALL.  Murderous tendencies aside, he seems like a pretty cool guy to spend an evening with.  Just don’t call him funny . . .

2) Michael Corleone – The Reluctant Mobster

Film of origin: The Godfather (Parts I, II and III)

Played by: Al Pacino

Why he made the list?

Do you even have to ask?  Michael Corleone was the quintessential mob boss.  But what made him so interesting and unique was that he never wanted to be one.  Born into a notorious crime family, Michael escaped his roots at the age of 18, and went on to become an Ivy League graduate, and war hero.  He then married the straight-laced daughter of a Baptist minister, in hopes of becoming a law-abiding family man, with a lowercase “f.”

But Michael soon gets sucked into the Family’s web.  When two nearly successful attempts are made on his father’s life, he is forced to avenge them.  After his father’s death, Michael is forced to replace him as head of the Corleone crime family.

Although throughout the trilogy, Michael makes numerous attempts to legitamize the Family business, he is continually thwarted by circumstances beyond his control, as well as his growing greed and hubris.  Of all our mob men’s stories, his is perhaps the most tragic.  And that’s why we love him.

1) Tony Soprano – Jersey Mobster Supreme

Show of origin: The Sopranos

Played by:          James Gandolfini

Why he made the list?

There are those of you out there who would undoubtedly like to give me flack for placing Tony Soprano above Michael Corleone on this list.  However, I have had eight years to get to know the former, and only a few hours to get to know the latter.  So, you will have to forgive me my sacrilege. 

Tony Soprano remains one of the most complex characters in television history.  On one hand, he is a hardened criminal, a violent and cold-blooded killer — a man who regularly cheats on his wife, who betrays his former friends and members of his family.  Sure, you could probably justify his murder of Tony Blundetto as a mercy killing, a rival family was going to do him in, anyway.

And his murder of Adrianna could be called a “protective measure.”  She was going to turn Tony and the rest of the Soprano family over to the FBI.

But his shocking “hands-on” murder of protégé and adoptive nephew Christopher Moltisanti during the show’s final season? 

I’m scratching my head over that one . . .

On the other hand, Tony Soprano was always somewhat of a flawed every-man.  He tried desperately to be a good dad to his two children, a good brother to his younger sister, and a good son to his spiteful, mean, and often unappreciative mother.  And before he killed Christopher, he really did care for him like a son or younger brother (if that counts for anything).  Tony also suffered from debilitating depression and panic attacks, both of which made him seem more fragile and human.

It was these physical and emotional ailments that caused Tony to seek treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Melfi.  During these therapy sessions,  we got to see a softer side of Tony — a side that experienced guilt and remorse over his actions, one that loved and deeply cared about those around him.

Dr. Melfi brought out the best in Tony Soprano.  And even though, these two never crossed the line romantically, the intelligent interplay and sexual tension between them was extremely HOT!

This is why Tony Soprano, tops my list.  And why, I REFUSE to believe that he died during that maddening fade-to-black series finale!  In fact, I am so certain, that Tony merely finished his onion rings, waited until Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing finished playing on the juke box, and drove home, that I’ve decided to leave you with a video of the awesome opening credits to one of the best television series of all time. 

After all, these credits show a living, cigar-smoking Tony Soprano commuting home from work on the New Jersey Turnpike.  And that’s what I truly believe he will be doing tomorrow evening . . . at least in TV Land!

 

 

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Awesomeness Incarnate: A Recap of Lost’s “Sundown”

“I see dead people (because I killed them).”

Tonight’s installment of Lost, in my opinion, truly harkened back to the show’s iconic first season.  Back then, the show was less about mythology, time travel, scientific theory, and zombies, and more about castaways.  At its core, early Lost was about PEOPLE, just like you and me (only hotter, less hygenic, and more often shirtless).

Yeah . . . Sawyer wasn’t actually in this episode.  I just felt the need to share this picture with you, because it’s yummy.

During the first season of the series, we watched the Losties battle their inner demons, justify their pasts, and struggle to survive the island elements.  As the series progressed, and its mythology grew more complex, Lost lost some of that simplicity.  “Sundown,” in my opinion, brought it back in a big way.  It was a simple episode.  One that even a non-fan of the show could have understood and enjoyed, which is not to say that it didn’t have its action-packed OMFG moments . . . . 

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

In one of the series’ early flashbacks, a young Sayid cared for and protected his older brother by committing an act of violence (killing a chicken), when his brother could not do so.  In his flash sideways . . . well . . .

In virtually all of the flash-sideways that we have seen thus far, the main character has had the opportunity to experience some form of redemption, righting the wrongs of his or her past in an alternate present.  Sayid’s flash sideways is unique in that it is NOT about redemption . . . at least not entirely. 

Like Locke, following Flight 815’s safe landing, Sayid travels to a suburban neighborhood, and is greeted with a hug at the doorstep by the woman he loves.  Unlike Locke, however, the object of Sayid’s affection belongs to another man, namely his older brother, Omer.

Although Sayid is often away on “business” (i.e. killing and torturing people) it becomes immediately apparent that he is very close with his family.  Sayid is a beloved uncle to his niece and nephew, and a close confidant to his sister-in-law.  Based on the looks Nadia and Sayid give one another across the kitchen table, you can immediatelly tell there is something serious between them.  This fact is not lost on big brother Omer, who eyes the pair with jealous suspicion.  Nor does it escape the notice of Omer’s children, who quickly find a photograph of Nadia packed away in Sayid’s suitcase.

Once alone, Nadia confronts Sayid about why the pair never acted on their obvious mutual affection for one another.  She has opened her heart to him in letters, and he has continually pushed her away.  Sayid stares at Nadia regretfully, recalling all of his past misdeeds, and replies, “I do not deserve you.”

In this way, the Sayid of Flash Sideways World HAS redeemed himself.  Having had to live with the regret of knowing that his murderous lifestyle resulted in Nadia’s untimely death in the “real world,” Sayid is able to prevent her demise in this world.  He does this by remaining apart from her, no matter how much doing so kills him inside.  Sayid seems to be continuing on this redemptive path, when his brother wakes him in the middle of the night begging for his help. 

Omer apparently has bargained the family fortune and is now indebted to some highly unsavory characters.  In no uncertain terms, he asks Sayid to beat the crap out of these people, so that they will leave Omer alone.  Sayid declines, claiming that this part of his life is over.  The next day, Omer is put in the hospital, after having been beat down by the goons to whom he is indebted.  At the hospital, Nadia begs Sayid not to intervene.  She instructs him instead to go home and be with her children.

Surprisingly, Sayid does as he is told.  Unforunately, the goons pick Sayid up outside Omer’s house.  In what was, in my opinion, the only weak point in the episode, the goons, who were led by none other than Charles Widmore’s mercenary, Martin Keamy, from the original Lost  timeline,  bring Sayid to an abandoned restaurant.  Here, they proceed to throw at him every mafia cliche in the book, from the faux polite offers of food, to a dude held hostage in the meat locker (but we will get to him later . . .)

“Get the f&*k outta here!  Posers!”

Paulie Walnuts Martin tries to bully Sayid into forking over the cash his brother owes.  However, Mob Man’s tune quickly changes when Sayid, without a moment’s hesitation, pulls out a gun and shoots his two minions.  Martin, now fearing for his life, tries to reason with Sayid, offering to immediately forgive Omer’s entire debt.  However, Martin’s plea is met with nothing more than a bullet in his chest. 

Poor Sayid, you try to be a nice guy, and, what happens?  You end up committing triple homicide.  It just isn’t fair!

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

Oh, and did I mention that Sayid found Jin stuck in the restaurant’s meat locker?

Bad to the Bone

Back in real time, Sayid confronts Dogen at the Temple, seeking answers.  Of course, he doesn’t just want answers, he wants the TRUTH!

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH, SAYID!”

 . . . sorry.  I couldn’t resist.

Dogen explains to Sayid that he had hooked the latter up to a machine calibrated to measure good and evil.  Unfortunately for Sayid, his scale “tipped the wrong way.”  This is why Dogen has been trying to kill Sayid.

Good and evil.  Light and dark.  Dogen’s monologue brought to mind Locke’s infamous backgammon speech from season one.

Having provided Sayid with the requested “answers,” Yoda Dogen then proceeds to attack Sayid.  After performing some crazy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon– type moves, the spry Dogen pins Sayid to the ground, while holding a knife to his neck. 

Then, oddly enough, a baseball rolls to the ground, and, upon seeing it, Dogen decides to spare Sayid’s life.  (He must really like baseball . . .)

“If you build it, you can LIVE!”

Then, Crazy Claire comes to the Temple and tells Dogen that Nu-Locke (or Man in Black or whatever the heck the cool kids are calling him these days) wants to talk to him.  Dogen refuses to leave the Sanctuary of the Temple, claiming that Nu Locke can kill him out in the jungle.  Claire then suggests that Dogen send someone Nu Locke will not kill.  Dogen sets his sights on the man he just decided not to kill: Sayid.  Claire is then tossed in an underground sort of prison made specially for island loonies just like her .  . .

Just hanging out . . . killing some time . . . among other things.”

Offering Sayid a chance to prove his “goodness,” Dogen gives the former his knife and tells him to kill Nu Locke, who he describes as “evil incarnate.”  (Because nothing says “goodness” like premeditated murder).

“I have been waiting for you Obi Wan.”

Nu-Locke soon appears just outside the Temple.  And, Sayid, who clearly loves a good kill,  immediately stabs him in the chest.  Nu-Locke then surprises Sayid by extracting the sword easily from his stomach, without leaving so much as a pinprick behind.  Instead of teasing Sayid for his clearly crappy mercenary skills, Nu Locke offers Sayid the chance to see his beloved Nadiya once again, if he agrees to deliver a message on Nu-Locke’s behalf, thereby selling his soul to Evil Incarnate, himself.

Here’s the basic gist of the message Sayid delivers to the inhabitants of the Temple: Jacob is dead.  Leave the Temple by Sundown, and join Team Evil Incarnate, or Nu-Locke will kill YOU. 

After delivering the message, Sayid drowns Dogen as punishment for the latter’s failure to warn Sayid about the whole “Nu-Locke can’t die” thing.  Sayid then kills Dogen’s sidekick, Lennon, for . . . ummmm . . . just being Lennon . . . I guess.

“Aufwiedersehen, Lennon and Dogen.  You are OUT!”

Meanwhile, Kate returns to the Temple and finds Crazy Claire in her underground hidey hole singing to herself the iconic and oddly creepy song “Catch a Falling Star,” the same song Kate had sung to baby Aaron while mothering him off the island.  When Crazy Claire explains that she is here to retrieve her baby, whom the Others have kidnapped,  Kate explains to Claire that SHE has been the one taking care of Aaron all of these years . . .  not the Others.

“Hmmm . . . maybe it wasn’t such a good idea . . . telling her that.”

If you recall, last week, Crazy Claire told the currently MIA Jin that if she found out that Kate had, in fact, taken her child, she would KILL Kate . . .   Claire then cryptically informs Kate that “He’s coming and you can’t stop him,” before Kate is dragged away by the Temple guards.

 Losties Ben, Sun, Lapidus, and Ilana, arrive at the Temple, and reunite with Miles, moments before Sundown.  Just in time for all Hell (no pun intended) to break loose.  Ladies and Gentleman, Smokey has entered the building . . .

  . . . can prevent Evil Incarnate fires!

Within moments, the Temple is filled with deadly smoke, and people are running every which way to avoid being disintegrated by it.  It looks like something out of a badly scripted and poorly acted, but big budget, apocalyptic blockbuster.

“Yeah, just like that . . .”

Ilana finds a secret porthole in the Temple and ushers the rest of her Lostie gang to safety.  Ben finds Sayid staring morosely at the darkened waters, and beckons him toward the porthole.  “There is still time,” he pleads.

“Not for me,” replies Sayid.

 Ben, who is nothing if not good at saving his own ass, quickly retreats, leaving Sayid by his now-evil lonesome.  But you know who is not good at saving her own ass?  Kate!  In the midst of all this chaos, Kate actually decides to go back and rescue Crazy Claire, who just doesn’t seem to want saving“You’ll be safer down here,” offers Nutjob, and Kate actually listens!

This is not exactly the kind of gal you want in your foxhole with you.  For starters, the girl hasn’t showered in THREE YEARS!  The smell alone might kill you . . .

Fortunately for Kate, the Smoke monster passes right by Claire and her, leaving them virtually untouched.  Then, just as soon as it began, the Smoke vanishes.  Kate follows Claire out of her hidey hole, surveying the destruction and carnage around her in horror, as she exits the Temple. 

In the last few moments of the episode, Kate watches, awestruck, as Claire and Sayid join Nu Locke and the rest of his new creepy zombie minions out in the darkness of the jungle . . .

Frankly, the episode’s conclusion frightened me . . . a lot!  I need someone to give me ahug.  Where’s Shirtless Sawyer when you need him?

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