Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Steven Spielberg Sees A Goodfellas Parallel To The Godfather That Most Viewers Miss

"Goodfellas" has appeared on Variety's new list of the 100 Greatest Movies (at number 12 on the list), a fact that shouldn't surprise too many film buffs. The Martin Scorsese gangster classic scored an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture when it came out in 1990 and has appeared in several rankings of the greatest films ever made.

In his original review of the film, critic Roger Ebert believed "The Godfather," the other most iconic mob movie, couldn't be compared to "Goodfellas." Where the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola movie is focused largely on the upper-class family in charge of the mob, "Goodfellas" is about "working stiffs." The character of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) comes from a poor family and is attracted to the power and ease of the mafia lifestyle. "The Godfather" is also closer to old-school classic filmmaking, whereas the style of "Goodfellas" is fueled more by cinematic adrenaline and Henry's chaotic, violent life.

However, director Steven Spielberg thinks there's a real connection to be found between "The Godfather" trilogy and "Goodfellas." Here's why.

Food is important to both movies

Filmmakers and actors were invited by Variety to write about selected films in their 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list, including legendary "Jaws" and "The Fabelmans" director Steven Spielberg. He chose to write a piece about "Goodfellas," describing the film as "a master class for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to see a breathtaking balancing act of multiple storylines, timelines, shocking violence and violent humor."

The filmmaker also noted in his essay, "And not since Peter Clemenza instructed Michael Corleone how to cook for a crew in 'The Godfather' has food played such a critical role in creating bonds that last a lifetime — or in this case, right up until the time you get whacked."

Spielberg has a great point about these films and their portrayal of food and cooking. "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather" both depict eating and making food as an essential activity, something that invigorates familial and friendly relationships. Food acts as a connector and a symbol of community, which is surprisingly integral to mafia stories and to each of these movies. The ties between characters are strong — yet, as the characters steadily get killed because of their involvement in the criminal life or end up ratting out their friends to avoid jail, these bonds aren't enough to save them either. 

"Goodfellas" is currently streaming on HBO Max.