Dir: Robert De Niro, United States, 121mins, 1993
A Bronx Tale is the directorial debut of Academy award winning actor, Robert De Niro and is based on the play written by Chazz Palminteri, who also penned this screen adaptation. Gangster Sonny is the big man in the Bronx neighborhood. A young Italian-American boy named Calogero witnesses Sonny kill a man on the street in broad daylight. Calogero doesn’t “rat” on Sonny, starting a bond between the gangster and the boy. Father Lorenzo disapproves. Calogero grows up under the wing of both men, torn between his honesty and his fascination with Sonny.
De Niro, who plays worried father Lorenzo and Palminteri, who plays local gangster Sonny, both deliver great performances. These performances filter confidence down through the cast, especially to the youngest actors in the film, Lillo Brancato and Francis Capra. Both Brancato and Capra play the role of Calogero at different stages of the character’s life. When you are being directed by someone who has worked with master filmmaker, Martin Socrsese, on numerous occasions to Oscar winning success as well as performing from a script written by a successful play writer, you can’t help but feel confident about your abilities. You’re in the safest of hands. Brancato and Capra deliver performances that co-inside with one another. When the film skips nine years ahead and we see Calogero grow up from a curious nine year old to an eighteen year old gangster understudy, it’s a smooth transition. Characteristics remain in both actors deliveries, and both the performances compliment one another very well.
One can only imagine the pressure De Niro potentially put himself under when making this film. After working with Scorsese on eight films, spanning 22 years of his career, De Niro knew he had to deliver a film of quality after learning so much from Scorsese. It’s easy to compare this film with any Scorsese classic. To De Niro’s credit, he created a film that has his own style and personality in it. Granted, it does bare similarities to Scorsese films such as Mean Streets and Goodfellas, but most gangster films, to some degree, resemble each other most of the time.
A Bronx Tale is a very well executed film. The story is crafted with care and a sense of first hand experience. It feels genuine throughout, an honest picture of life in the Bronx during the 1960’s. The baseball references of Mickey Mantle and wasted potential are key to the plot. As subtle as they may be, it’s these little things that add to the charm. A Bronx Tale will always be considered one of the best gangster films, and judging by this Blu-ray release, it still hasn’t lost it’s power and impact almost 20 years on.
The extras on this Blu-ray release are adequate. You have the choice of watching the original theatrical trailer and a making of featurette. Although the featurette lasts for approximately five minutes, you get enough background information about why De Niro casted unknown New York actors to keep a genuine sense of realism and authenticity. An satisfactory Blu-ray release of a timeless film.