Top 10 Movies About Italians That Don’t Involve The Mafia
It seems that Hollywood loves to glamorize the nasty side of Italian-Americans. There are lots of movies featuring Italian-American characters, and most of them are about the mob, or at least involve the Mafia in some small way. Not to say they’re not great movies. The Godfather (I & II), Goodfellas, Casino…all classics. But even Raging Bull, an incredibly powerful flick, features a Mafia-subplot. So here are 10 excellent Hollywood movies about Italian-Americans that do not involve la Cosa Nostra…
A gay man is looking for a roommate. A pizza maker from Brooklyn is ready to move out and spots the ad, looking for a GWM (Gay White Male). He thinks it means “guy with money.” It’s an odd couple type comedy, with broad stereotypical characters, but it’s pretty darn funny.
Husband and wife, Joey (Kevin Kline doing his best Italian guy) and Rosalie (the perfect Tracy Ullman doing her best Italian-American) own a pizza parlor. She is convinced that he works all of the time for them until she finds out he has been fooling around for years. Being Catholic, divorce is out of the question, so she and her mother and her best friend decide to kill him…over and over and over again. This is dark and funny as hell.
Written and directed by the great John Turturro, this tale of three brothers who are left the family’s construction business after the death of their father is a real joy. Honest, well-written and acted, and true to the whole “family-first” attitude of most Italians.
A hilarious look at wedding planning, Italian-American style. A young couple from Brooklyn get engaged and the families go nuts with the wedding plans, leaving the two of them dazed and confused. Best bit is when the caterer asks if they want the mashed potatoes to match the color of the bridesmaids dresses.
It’s country bumpkins vs. a couple of Brooklyn Italians. This is a funny movie, punctuated by Marissa Tomei’s over the top Italian Princess character (Some say she shouldn’t have gotten the Oscar. Screw them.) And who can forget Fred Gwynne as the judge leaning over to Joe Pesci asking him if he just said “youts?”
Can a movie make you hungry? This one can. Stanley Tucci (also directed) and Tony Shaloub are Italian immigrant brothers who own a small restaurant. Shaloub is the chef who absolutely will not compromise, even when a big, cheesy faux Italian place opens down the block. The big party at the end is a gourmet’s delight…a must see.
Dom DeLuise is a guy who’s struggled with his weight his whole life, and finally finds a woman who may turn him around. This funny little film was directed by and starred Anne Bancroft (A great Italian actress herself, and wife of Mel Brooks). It captures the essence of Italian families, one minute yelling, the next hugging. And there’s lots of eating too.
Another film about a “fat, ugly man”. This flick from the ’50s earned several Oscars, including best actor for Ernest Borgnine, who is just great. It takes place over two days in the life of a guy who just can’t meet the right girl. When he does, everyone tells him to dump her. Especially his mom and his friend, Ang. Famous for the lines: “What do you wanna do tonight, Marty?” “I dunno, what do you wanna do?”
One of my favorite movies of all time. Cher’s Oscar-winning role as the woman who is there for everyone else, and finally decides to take a chance for herself. Everyone in this movie is absolutely perfect. Olympia Dukakis is wonderful as the matriarch. Danny Aiello as the fiance who heads to Italy for his dying mother (“When I told her we were getting married, she got up and starting cooking for everyone. It was a miracle!”) And even Nicholas Cage is great…”I lost my hand! I lost my girl!” Love it!
Yo! The underdog from South Philly makes good. Despite all the lousy sequels, the original remains a true classic. Stallone, who wrote the script, owned this character. You go through an entire range of emotions with him, and care about him. Now, some people would say there is some undertone of mob activity, with Rocky being a thumb-breaker for the local bookie, but let’s let that one slide, aiight? yo!
Buy the Movie at AmazonNotable Extras: Domenic and Eugene, ItalianAmerican, Everybody wants to be Italian