By Dan Skip Allen
I loved watching sports movies and gangster films when I was a kid. They were two different kinds of movies, but they both had their own way of inspiring me growing up. Sports films put you in the shoes of those heroes on-screen, whether it be Roy Hobbs hitting massive home runs or Shoeless Joe Jackson coming out of the corn, saying, "Where are we? Heaven?" Sports films have an imagination that can make you dream of something greater than yourself. Gangster films have a glamour to them that gives me chills. In Goodfellas, Henry Hill cooks an Italian meal in prison with the Don. You have to cut the garlic very thin, so it melts with the olive oil. It was a great scene of camaraderie between brothers. Gangster films showed a world that was just perfect sometimes.
Ray Liotta was in both of these films. In one, he played a ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson teaching and playing baseball; in the other, he was Henry Hill, a young and impressionable man looking for something to be a part of and belong to. Both characters showed Liotta had acting chops. Both characters brought something to the table regarding my favorite kinds of films: a Martin Scorsese classic and a baseball classic. They are movies I would recommend to anybody. Liotta is excellent in both of them. The scene where he was high on cocaine, driving all over town trying to deliver the guns, but he believes the feds are following him, is brilliant. He's so paranoid in this whole sequence. You feel the paranoia he feels while watching him.
Liotta has had a vast career besides those two iconic roles in those great films. He's played a corrupt policeman in Copland, an FBI Agent caught in the middle of a bunch of hitmen in Smokin' Aces, a police chief caught in a hostage situation in John Q, and Aldo Moltisanti, the father of Christopher in The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to The Sopranos. He's even been in Bee Movie starring Jerry Seinfeld. He pretty much did it all in his fifty or so years in film. When people think of two of the most iconic films of the last generation, they'll talk about Goodfellas and Field of Dreams. That's what I think of when I think of the great career of Ray Liotta. These two films will cement him as one of the greats of his generation.
The Snake Hole
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