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Top 100 Movies Of The 1990's: #47 A Bronx Tale

Box Office: $17.3 Million

Oscar Nominations: None

Oscar Wins: None

MovieRankings.Net: 89/100

Available To Stream: Amazon Prime ($4)

This is a movie filled with great individual moments but it might not be the most cohesive or greatest overall script. A Bronx Tale really is telling two stories: one with Calogero when he's 9 and another when he's 17. The theme of having two "fathers" is consistent throughout but Robert De Niro's bus driver actual father has so much less to do in the second half. Unsurprisingly, the movie is nowhere near as good when he isn't on screen.

The interesting note about this movie is that this is Robert De Niro's first movie he ever directed. He would only go on to direct one more movie (The Good Shepherd in 2006). For a rookie director, he does a pretty good job. De Niro is great at creating this city block that is Calogero's whole universe. You see everything in that first half from the POV of a 9 year old. With so many iconic moments, I bet De Niro would have been a pretty good director if he focused solely on that.

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The greatest strength about this movie though is Chazz Palminteri. He obviously stars as the gangster Sonny but he wrote the script as well. It all stemmed from his successful one man show that De Niro saw one night and got greenlit into a movie. He would later go on to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in the Woody Allen comedy Bullets Over Broadway but Palminteri will be most remembered for A Bronx Tale. He spent the majority of his career acting but did write another feature film in 1996 called Faithful. He starred in it with Cher and it bombed at the box office. That pretty much ended his screenwriting days.

When the movie focuses on 17 year old Calogero and his friends, it can feel like an afterschool special. Everything about the third act feels as subtle as a sledgehammer. This is the difficulty of taking a play to the big screen. In theater, it feels like things need to be wrapped up with a bow. In movies, there can be more ambiguity. I don't need to see Calogero's friends set themselves on fire. The whole ending feels rushed.

But I do appreciate this movie for the specific parts (many of which were pulled from Palminteri's own life). Eddie The Mush. The stuff about forgetting someone who won't pay you back $20. The girl reaching to open the car door for you after you let her in "test". The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. And of course:

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This is a very good movie. With so much of it coming from Chazz Palminteri's actual childhood, this may have been the only great screenplay in him. But I wish we could have seen more collaborations with Palminteri writing and Robert De Niro directing. I don't blame De Niro for doing lousy comedies in the 2000's for easy paychecks but I would love to see a universe where he spent that time directing instead.

47. A Bronx Tale

48. The People Vs. Larry Flynt

49. Eyes Wide Shut

50. The Sandlot

51. Happy Gilmore

52. Contact

53. The Green Mile

54. Man On The Moon

55. Boyz N The Hood

56. Grosse Pointe Blank

57. Independence Day

58. The Rainmaker

59. Go

60. The Firm

61. Magnolia

62. The Talented Mr. Ripley

63. Tommy Boy

64. The Usual Suspects

65. In The Line Of Fire

66. My Cousin Vinny

67. Awakenings

68. JFK

69. Toy Story

70. Home Alone

71. Jerry Maguire

72. Titanic

73. Billy Madison

74. Apollo 13

75. Braveheart

76. Edward Scissorhands

77. Cape Fear

78. The River Wild

79. What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

80. 12 Monkeys

81. Stir Of Echoes

82. Mission: Impossible

83. Total Recall

84. Quiz Show

85. For Love Of The Game

86. Being John Malkovich

87. Men In Black

88. Scream

89. Alive

90. Three Kings

91. Glengarry Glen Ross

92. Die Hard With A Vengeance

93. The Blair Witch Project

94. Twister

95. Dirty Work

96. Election

97. Tremors

98. Any Given Sunday

99. The Wedding Singer

100. Clerks