Sunday, May 31, 2015

Small Time Crooks

The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) - Rosenberg
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Charlie (Mickey Rourke), a divorced working stiff with style who lives with a beautiful dancer/aerobics instructor girlfriend Diane (Daryl Hannah), wants to get by by earning an honest living as a maitre-d. Money's tight for Charlie - he still has to pay for child support and Diane just declared she is pregnant and it's his cousin Paulie (Eric Roberts) who can't stay out of trouble and always drag Charlie with him down the hole. When one of the Paulie's scam- stealing the police payoff to a local mob boss, Bed Bug Eddie (Burt Young) goes awry (a cop falls to his death while they are cracking the safe), it's not only Bed Bug and his goons after them, but also NYPD.

The Pope not only features great performances by Rourke and Roberts, it's also peppered in with great bit characters - Geraldine Page (The Day of the Locusts, Interiors) as lower class, chain-smoking widow of a dead cop, Kenneth McMillan (Dune) as a good natured clockmaker-cum-safecracker.

It's a typical small time crooks story - one trying to go straight, the other digging an early grave and loyalty through thick and thin (we Italians stick together!) kinda thang. But Rosenberg gets everything right in painting the scummy 80s village in NY dominated by Italian mobs and give each scene plenty of breathing room whether it figures much in to the main storyline or not. There are many great scenes, like when Paulie pours in laxatives to an asshole traffic cop's drink and jumping up at down and screaming, pointing at the distressed cop. "The cop shat his pants! the cop shat his pants!" and Charlie dancing with Diane in the street- Charlie asks a kid with a boombox to turn the volume up and the kid goes, "Sure thing Charlie." I love these moments! Their gumbah world might not be your cup of tea but Rosenberg and co, keep you engaged throughout the entire 2 hour movie.

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