Sunday, April 13, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... WISE GUYS

Only now does it occur to me...  four quick things.  WISE GUYS is a sorta mediocre mobster comedy from Brian De Palma starring Danny DeVito and Joe Piscapo.  Laugh-worthy and groan-worthy moments appear in equal measure; approach at your own risk, depending on your tolerance level for zany Italian-American hijinks.  But here are four quick things that I appreciated:

#1.  "The De Palma Shot."  One of De Palma's trademark shots is the composite of two different shots so that characters in the foreground and the distance both appear in focus without sacrificing the depth of field he likes.  Danny DeVito at this point in time was most famous for playing a character on TV's TAXI named "Louie De Palma."  So here, in all of it's glory is Louie De Palma in a De Palma movie in a De Palma shot:
That's a lotta De Palma, but that's the way I like it.

#2.  DeVito's De Niro impersonation.  Because no comedy would be complete without a groundbreaking send-up of the "You Talkin' To Me?" sequence from TAXI DRIVER.  Ordinarily I'd roll my eyes at this– but DeVito's De Niro is actually pretty good!

#3.  The many loves of Rhea Perlman.  WISE GUYS features real-life Perlman husband DeVito, as well as fictional husband Dan Hedaya (who played "Nick Tortelli" on CHEERS).  How 'bout that?

#4.  WISE GUYS features a scene which I shall describe without comment:
A mob Fixer (wrestling's "Captain" Lou Albano) throws a profanity-laced hissy fit in the presence of casino owner Harvey Keitel.
 Keitel shuts him down by saying this isn't Newark and he should watch his language,
which leads to the exquisite mortification of Captain Lou
 and the shit-eating brilliance of Harvey Keitel.
Carry on.  WISE GUYS, ladies and gentlemen.


Anonymous said...

This looks like a lot of fun, and with some of the names among names! And, sorry to get off-topic, but the other day I saw a headline for a "Days of Thunder" review pop-up in my RSS feed, but then it disappeared before I could get around to reading it. Does this mean there is some Cruise in our future? Will it come back? Enquiring minds want to know!

Sean Gill said...


Heh– indeed a DAYS OF THUNDER post is in the works, but I accidentally published it before I finished writing it, but in a day or two, you should be able to read about various Nascar hijinks, etc.!

John Guedes said...

This is one of the few, if not only, DePalma movies that has elduded me.

Are there a lot of other "DePalmisms" in the movie? Long crane shots, wild murals in the background, etc?

Sean Gill said...


I, too, had waded through De Palma's entire oeuvre (save for GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBIT, HOME MOVIES, and some of the really early shorts) until I finally ticked this one off the list. Aside from a few bits of stylistic flourish (the aforementioned De Palma shots, some exciting camera angles, etc.) I never would have guessed this was a De Palma film. Maybe it was for money or he was trying to showcase his versatility to the studio? (Look– I don't JUST to wildly artistic psychosexual thrillers, I can do a straightforward comedy!), but the sum is less than its parts and it's really nothing too special (though it does have a nice morbid payoff at the end).

It is worth noting, however, that this film has a fiercely devoted cult following who actually find it to be something approaching a classic, so there's that.