29th Street

This has been called a delightful blend of Scorsese’s GoodFellas and Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. For better and for worse, and delightfulness aside, this crowd pleaser is a blend of those two pictureswithout, of course, being nearly as good as either one. Whether such a crass and semiincongruous blend makes much sense is another matter. An Italian American (Anthony LaPaglia) wins the first New York lottery on Christmas Eve, 1976, and is so upset about it that he winds up getting arrested for vandalizing a nativity scene in front of a church. Most of the remainder of the movie is a sort of soft GoodFellas flashback, with Danny Aiello chewing up scenery as the hero’s father and Lainie Kazan as his mother, though it returns to 1976 for the Capracorn finale. Apparently most of the story is based on the real-life experiences of Frank Pesce, who plays his own older brother in the movie and coauthored the original story with James Franciscus. This was the directing debut of George Gallo, who scripted Wise Guys and Midnight Run, and he does a fair enough job with the material. (JR)

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