A Bronx Tale New York Gangster Movies

Over the past few decades, ‘A Bronx Tale’ has cemented its place as one of the most popular New York gangster movies of all time. Written and directed by legendary filmmaker Robert De Niro, A Bronx Tale released in 1993 to critical and commercial success, becoming a defining example of the crime genre. It is often placed alongside Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and The Godfather as one of the best American gangster films ever made.

The story is centred around a young Bronx-born Italian-American man named Calogero, who is caught between the temptations of organized crime and the moral teachings of his strict, hardworking father Lorenzo. Calogero finds himself in a gangster’s paradise of power, money, and romance, yet his father’s lessons are unable to quash his attraction to the world of organized crime.

The film has been praised for its powerful portrayal of its central themes, most notably the struggle between family values and street morals. The expertly crafted script and direction, compounded with the stellar performances of Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri and Lillo Brancato Jr. combine to create an emotionally intense masterpiece.

The film also expertly captures the physical and social aspects of the Bronx in the late 1960s and early 1970s with considerable detail and realism. Richly capturing the poverty, Italian culture and crime-funded opulence of this complex New York neighbourhood, A Bronx Tale is a historical document that has become a cultural phenomenon.

De Niro’s direction and Palminteri’s screenplay have been praised by film critics and scholars alike, with many calling it an “unforgettable and deeply affecting” film. Professor of Communication studies at the University of Texas, Austin, Robert Pittman compares A Bronx Tale to classic Hollywood melodramas, noting “the narrative focus of A Bronx Tale is personal rather than external, anchored in the actions and relationships of the characters”.

The film has also been praised for its characterisations of the Italian-American community, something Professor of Italian at the University of Connecticut, Claudia Calabrò likened to how Italians were portrayed in Italian neorealist films such as Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945).

Today, A Bronx Tale is actively studied in film courses around the world as an example of expertly crafted cinema. It has achieved an enduring legacy and strong cultural influence, even serving as the basis for a musical which premiered on Broadway in 2016. There’s no doubt that A Bronx Tale will remain a classic for many years to come.

About Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro is an iconic name in the film industry. He is best-known for his Academy Award-winning performance in The Godfather Part 2 and for his collaborations with beloved filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.

De Niro’s career is remarkable; he has starred in over 90 films, in addition to directing and producing credits. Some of De Niro’s most acclaimed performances are in Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and A Bronx Tale.

De Niro’s influence as an actor and director is evident in the filmography and legacy of ‘A Bronx Tale’. He co-wrote, produced and co-starred in the movie, which was based off a one-man show written and performed by Chazz Palminteri. De Niro’s decision to cast real locals, the film’s use of the Steadicam, and his insistence to shoot exclusively in the Bronx helped to create an air of gritty authenticity.

De Niro has since gone on to direct multiple award-winning films, including A Bronx Tale, The Good Shepard, The Irishman and The War With Grandpa. His most recent directorial effort was Being in 2020, a psychological thriller starring Robin Williams. De Niro’s work offers an ongoing testament to his skill and dedication as a filmmaker and will continue to powerfully influence Hollywood for decades to come.

The Legacy of ‘A Bronx Tale’

A Bronx Tale has become a defining example of the crime genre, and its influence can be seen in numerous other films, TV shows and books since its release. Many critics argue that it is the definitive New York gangster film, offering the clearest images and stories of the life of a mid-century Italian-American crime family. Its very rich visual language is echoed in multiple productions, from 30 Rock to the Sopranos, and its narrative arc has been reconfigured for follow-up films such as Analyze This and Analyze That.

What makes A Bronx Tale so impactful is its subversive subtext about upward class mobility, where criminality becomes an exercise in self-realization. This theme is made all the more significant through the juxtaposition of Calogero’s conflicting ideologies with the ones found in his father Lorenzo. As the film progresses and Calogero finds himself torn between respecting the values of his working-class family and the allure of gangster life, the audience uncovers his father’s identical struggle with achieving the American dream.

One of the most memorable aspects of the film is its celebration of the Italian-American Bronx lifestyle. Through its well-developed characters, meticulous art direction, lush period score and lyrical writing, A Bronx Tale comes alive in a unique way. The film contains memorable monologues performed by Robert De Niro and Palminteri, as well as plenty of baleful looks and old-fashioned speech. These elements combined create a beautiful snapshot of the culture and people of the Bronx, especially those of Italian descent.

It’s safe to say that A Bronx Tale has achieved legendary status, both in the world of film and in the Bronx. Its messages of family and its authenticity continue to reverberate through popular culture, from movies and books to Broadway musicals and podcasts. It’s undoubtedly one of the best New York gangster movies of all time, and its legacy will undoubtedly last for centuries.

Pop Cultural Adaptations

A Bronx Tale’s legacy extends beyond traditional media into pop culture. Before the musical’s premiere on Broadway in 2016, the story was adapted into a musical TV concert, starring Alicia Keys and Chazz Palminteri. A Miami Beach theatre show based on the movie ran for over a decade, and hip-hop artists have referenced the film in various songs and videos.

The biggest adaptation to date is the Broadway musical “A Bronx Tale”, created by the filmmaking duo of Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks. The show features the same cast of characters plus several new additions. Palminteri’s story takes center stage as its line-up of toe-tapping tunes bring its characters to life.

Moreover, the critically acclaimed “A Bronx Tale” podcast dives into the movie’s characters, production history, Toronto impact, and cultural legacy through interviews with the original actors and filmmakers. It also includes a collection of old-school hip-hop and doo wop music that was authentic to the Bronx during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Objectively speaking, A Bronx Tale has taken on a life of its own through these adaptations and continues to be an esteemed example of the New York gangster movie.

Inside the Neighborhood Set

The atmosphere on the set of A Bronx Tale was one of excitement and surprise. As filming was done in the actual Bronx neighbourhood, De Niro and the crew got to witness first hand the beauty, ugly and love within the local area. In an interview, he recollected his recollection of the whole experience: “we were always amazed by how warm and inviting the people were.”

These same people that were so kind and warm to them also got to experience the movie first-hand –– nothing compares to the feeling of being filmed by a Hollywood legend in front of your home. While scouting locations, locals got to witness De Niro in action, discussing ideas and talking over scenes during production. When they saw their street on the big screen, it gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment –– they were a part of something special.

Locals were ecstatic to be featured in the film and participated whenever possible. Oftentimes extras and even members of the crew were locals, on set to fulfill various tasks, such as helping De Niro to get that perfect shot.

For the director, this only added to the charm of the whole production. He stated that having all these local people as part of the crew enriches the production: “I wanted it to be a communal effort. It was a passionate, beautiful and unique experience ―and it wouldn’t have come out the same without the locals.”

Reception and Impact

A Bronx Tale has had a lasting impact on the cultural scene and continues to be praised by moviegoers and critics alike. Its legacy extends from the original 1993 film to its Broadway musical adaptation and a flourishing podcast. It’s safe to say that A Bronx Tale has achieved legendary status in the world of film and will remain a classic for many years to come.

Critics and cinema scholars around the world have dubbed A Bronx Tale as “unforgettable and deeply affecting”, praising its combination of emotionally intense script, direction and stellar performances. According to Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, Robert Pittman, the film’ focus is personal rather than external, anchored in the actions and relationships of the characters’. This commentary speaks to the overarching themes of family values and street morals which the movie expertly portrays.

However, De Niro’s impeccable direction and Palminteri’s screenplay was only part of the movie’s success. What made A Bronx Tale stand out was its marriage of period New York atmosphere combined with its interpersonal relationships and engaging narrative. This has led to its celebration of the Italian-American Bronx lifestyle, which is made all the more significant through several creative elements, such as the well-constructed characters, the film’s diverse soundtrack and its raw street-level dialogue.

A Bronx Tale is an example of a movie that transcends its time. While its story may be set in the 1960s and 70s in the Bronx, its themes of family and birthright are timeless. It remains as powerful today as it was back then, as a touching story of a young man somewhere between his father’s lessons and his gangster dreams.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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