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Small Details You Missed In The Many Saints Of Newark

Bada bing! Fourteen years after the 86th and final episode of the landmark HBO mob series "The Sopranos," the franchise is back with the prequel film "The Many Saints of Newark." Co-written and produced by "The Sopranos" creator David Chase and directed by frequent "Sopranos" helmer Alan Taylor, "The Many Saints of Newark" flashes back to the late 1960s and early 1970s to examine the formative years of Tony Soprano. In an inspired and poignant casting move, Michael Gandolfini plays the teen version of Tony — the character made famous by his late father, James Gandolfini.

"The Many Saints of Newark" takes a deep dive into the story of Richard "Dickie" Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), who, even after he rises in the ranks of the DiMeo crime family, continues to mentor the young Tony as his favorite nephew (even though the two aren't blood related). For the lack of better words, Dickie Moltisanti is the man who made Tony before Tony was officially a made man. The Moltisanti name is also pivotal in the film in that it means "many saints," hence the film's title, "The Many Saints of Newark." More importantly, the Dickie we see in the film is the father of an infant named Christopher — who, of course, grows up to become the protégé of the older version of Tony in "The Sopranos."

Set amid the Newark race riots and the dynamic shift in the power structure of the criminal underworld in New Jersey that follows it, the film naturally features familiar locations and settings that fans of "The Sopranos" will immediately pick up on. However, there are other small details in "The Many Saints of Newark" that viewers may miss. Here's a look at some of them.

A Sopranos star is the film's opening narrator

Fans should pay close attention to the voice of the person who provides the opening narration of "The Many Saints of Newark." If that voice sounds familiar, there's a very good reason: It's Michael Imperioli, the actor who played Christopher Moltisanti and the only original member of the "Sopranos" cast to be involved in the prequel. For those stunned in disbelief that it's actually Christopher's voice you're hearing, here's how it's possible: The character is speaking beyond the grave as the opening shot in the film sweeps over tombstones in a graveyard, until it lands on Christopher's headstone. (Another clear indicator it's Christopher is the way the narrator goes on to recount how his mentor, Tony Soprano, would go on to murder him.)

For those who need a brutal reminder of how things went down, you can revisit the tragic scene when Tony chokes Christopher to death instead of calling 911 following their car accident in "Kennedy and Heidi," which is the 18th episode of "The Sopranos" Season 6.

Tony was in counseling before The Sopranos

Tony's counseling sessions with Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) from the pilot episode on helped "The Sopranos" establish the series' depth and complexity. As "The Many Saints of Newark" proves, there are bits of foreshadowing of Tony's counseling sessions in the film, although they're not necessarily therapeutic in nature.

Instead, Tony meets with a school counselor, who tries to motivate the teen because he has a high IQ — something that's obviously not reflected in his D+ grade-point average. Tony's mother Livia (Vera Farmiga) is a part of the session, too, as the counselor relays one of Tony's favorite memories to her, breaking the Soprano matriarch's heart. One thing Livia seems to brush off, though, is the counselor's observation about Tony's IQ testing: "The results tell us. He's a leader."

In another important set of scenes, Dickie Moltisanti essentially seeks counseling with a forgotten member of his family as he struggles with a dark secret that led him to reunite with the person in the first place. Sadly, the family member's last bit of advice to Dickie leads to another instance of heartbreak, leading to the fateful moment when we witness Tony unleash his fury for the first time.

The foreshadowing of Tony's relationship with Christopher

In one ironic scene, Dickie Moltisanti introduces baby Christopher during a "family" dinner attended by Tony and his father Johnny Boy (Jon Bernthal) as well as Livia and Uncle Junior (Corey Stoll). Given the close relationship Dickie has with Tony, he tries to hand off his new baby, Christopher, to his young protégé, and the infant responds with a crying fit in front of his future mentor.

In a subtle bit of foreshadowing of Christopher's untimely death at Tony's hands in "The Sopranos," the young Tony responds to the crying infant by saying, "It's like I scare him or something." After that, an elderly dinner guest responds, "Some babies, when they come into the world, know all kinds of things from the other side."

It's a sobering observation to contemplate the next time you encounter a colicky baby.

The Meta Saints of Newark

"The Sopranos" was never afraid of being meta when it came to references to classic mob movies, including several tips of the cap to Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" trilogy and Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas." Scorsese seemingly appears to turn up in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo in "46 Long," the second episode of Season 1, although the famed director is actually played by Anthony Caso. Then, of course, Christopher Moltisanti actor Michael Imperioli had a small role as Spider in "Goodfellas," a gofer who Joe Pesci's Tommy DeVito shot in the feet. In double meta moment, also in the first season of "The Sopranos," Christopher gets angry at a bakery worker and shoots the character, simply billed as "counter boy," in the feet.

The biggest nod to "Goodfellas" throughout the series, though, is the casting of Lorraine Bracco as Tony's therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi. In "Goodfellas," Bracco stars as Karen Hill, the long-suffering wife of real-life mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). Among the impressive ensemble cast of "The Many Saints of Newark" is Liotta, who stars as Dickie Moltisanti's fiery father and DiMeo family head "Hollywood Dick" Moltisanti. While Liotta's appearance is far from a bona fide "Goodfellas" reunion with Bracco, it rather serves as an appropriate bookend to Bracco's pivotal role in "The Sopranos."

Silvio Dante's hairy secret exposed

Longtime Bruce Springsteen guitarist Steven Van Zandt starred as Silvio Dante in "The Sopranos," and it was obvious from the pilot that he was sporting a mega toupee. But who was going to have guts to call him out on it? After all, he was Tony's consigliere and best buddy.

Even so, those fans longing for official confirmation of Silvio's balding noggin finally get a look at it in "The Many Saints of Newark." Played by John Magaro — who earlier this year played the young version of Harvey Keitel-portrayed gangster Meyer Lansky in the biopic "Lansky" — Silvio and his combover hairstyle appear in the film, as well as scenes where he's wearing a bouffant hairpiece. To top things off, there's a hilarious scene in the film that shows the early failings of Silvio's toupee.

Presumably the techniques that held Silvio's hairdo together in "The Sopranos" advanced quite a bit since the early '70s to prevent any embarrassing moments. That still doesn't take away the combover and toupee scenes in "The Many Saints of Newark," which provide amusing homages to Silvio's larger-than-life mane in the series.

Oh, poor Livia!

While Vera Farmiga's version of the young Livia Soprano finds her in the early phases of the character who would become the monstrous matriarch played by the late Nancy Marchand in "The Sopranos," David Chase apparently couldn't resist throwing in the character's signature line in "The Many Saints of Newark." That line — "Oh, poor you!" — heard in Season 1, Episode 2 during an argument between Livia and Tony, also turns up in the prequel. Given some of the strife Livia encounters in "The Many Saints of Newark," it's no wonder Livia grew bitter as she got older and had zero patience for crybabies — especially given how she endured her husband Johnny Boy's recklessly violent behavior toward her.

When Farmiga delivers the classic line in "The Many Saints of Newark," it's naturally during an argument with the iteration of Tony played by Michael Gandolfini (William Ludwig plays Tony as an 11-year-old). Farmiga clearly studied Marchand's mocking delivery, as her "Oh, poor you!" is so spot on that it feels like it was directly lifted from the actor's dialogue in the "Sopranos" sound archives. Farmiga is destined to join Marchand when it comes to the creation of more "Oh, poor you!" memes inspired by the character.

Carmella appears in The Many Saints of Newark (sort of)

While "The Many Saints of Newark" includes younger versions of "Sopranos" characters such as Tony, Livia, Uncle Junior, Silvio, Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola), and Paulie Walnuts (Billy Magnussen), fans almost got to see an original cast member of "The Sopranos" in the film. In the weeks leading up to the release of "The Many Saints of Newark," director Alan Taylor — who directed Falco in episodes of the "Sopranos" as well as "Nurse Jackie" — revealed that Falco shot a scene as Carmela for the film, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Still, a character who appears to be Tony's future wife is featured briefly in "The Many Saints of Newark," and can even be seen at the beginning of the film's first trailer. In the scene, Tony is calling Dickie Moltisanti from a pay phone booth to ask his mentor to purchase him some beer for a party. One of Tony's two friends standing by is a blonde high schooler who he later addresses as Carmella. As any "Sopranos" fan could tell you, Tony and Carmella go on to marry, but there's no real indication in the scene that the teens are a couple yet.

Who's that familiar-looking funeral mourner?

Without divulging who the victim is, there's a funeral scene in "The Many Saints of Newark," and among the mourners is a distinct-looking individual that "Sopranos" fans will recognize as series creator David Chase. While Chase has predominantly been a writer and producer throughout his career — and taken a few turns as a director, including "The Sopranos" pilot — he also popped up in numerous brief cameos in "The Sopranos."

Basically, Chase has taken the Alfred Hitchcock approach to his cameo, as the famed mystery director would mostly only appear in subtle walkthroughs in his films. Not nearly as prolific as the Master of Suspense in the cameo realm, Chase only turned up in two "Sopranos" episodes in the flesh during the series' run — in 2000 and 2006 — in which he was nondescriptly billed, as "Italian Man" and "Airline Passenger," respectively. In addition, Chase is billed as the "Man" heard on the other end of the phone in the dream sequence in the Season 5, Episode 11 of the series titled "Test Dream."