Organized crime is groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Organized crime groups are motivated by money rather than ideology, a characteristic that distinguishes them from organized terrorism. The movie Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese is an example of what organized crime is. Similar to many other mafia movies Goodfellas exaggerates truths and adds finesse to improve the movie.
The film starts with the main character, Henry Hill, stating that As far back as he could remember, he always wanted to be a gangster. As a boy, Henry quit school and went to work for mafia in his neighborhood. The local mob boss, Paul Cicero helps to cultivate Henry’s criminal career. As adults, Henry and his associate Tommy DeVito conspire with Conway to steal some of the billions of dollars of cargo passing through the airport they commonly stole from. The robbery helps Henry gain more of Paulie’s trust.
However, because Henry is half-Irish, he knows he can never become a “made man”, a full member of the crime family. Nor can their partner Jimmy, who is also half Irish. A “made man” had to be fully Italian so that they can trace your ancestors back to Italy, which was also true in the real history of the mafia. Henry’s friends become increasingly daring and dangerous. Jimmy loves hijacking trucks, and Tommy has an explosive temper and a psychotic need to prove himself through violence.
Tommy gets himself in a difficult situation when he beats and kills a “made man” that was just released from jail. In the rules of the mafia a “made man” can never be touched by anyone, even though he was humiliating Tommy. Later in the movie Tommy gets what he deserves for that kill. Henry also meets and falls in love with Karen, a no-nonsense young Jewish woman; they go to the Copacabana club two to three times a week. At first Karen has no idea why Henry has so many connections and a ton of money.
Once she learns Henry’s real job, Karen feels uneasy with Henry being part of the mob, but is also “turned on” by it and she stays with Henry. Henry and Karen eventually marry and have children. Henry’s marriage deteriorates when Karen finds he has a mistress, Janice Rossi. Karen confronts a sleeping Henry with a gun. As soon as she lowers the gun, Henry gets the upper hand and yells at his wife for even trying to shoot him. Since Karen doesn’t know what to do she goes to the boss, Paulie. Paulie and Jimmy confront Henry about his mistress and stress that appearances need to e kept up. Henry and Jimmy are caught beating a man because his sister is a news reporter, and they are both sent to prison for four years. There, Henry deals drugs to keep afloat and to support his family, and, when he returns to them, he has a drug connection in Pittsburgh. Jimmy warns Henry against dealing drugs, since mob bosses can get hefty prison sentences if their men are running drugs behind their back, However Henry does not listen and gets Tommy and Jimmy (as well as his wife, and new mistress) involved in t smuggling operation.
About the same time, Jimmy Conway and friends plan and carry out a record $6,000,000 heist from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at the airport. Soon after the heist, Jimmy grows paranoid when some of his associates foolishly flaunt their gains in plain sight, possibly drawing police attention, and begins having them killed off. After the boss promised to welcome Tommy into the family as a “made man,” the elder members of the family instead kill him as retaliation for the “made man” he killed earlier in the movie.
In the end all of the different paths of Henry’s complicated Mafia career collide. He must coordinate a major cocaine shipment; cook a meal for his family; placate his mistress, who processes the cocaine he sells; cope with his clueless babysitter/drug courier; avoid federal authorities who, unknown to him, have had him under surveillance for several months; and satisfy his sleazy customers, all the while a nervous wreck from lack of sleep and snorting too much coke. As the events play out a helicopter is following Henry and arrest him and his drug courier as he backs out of his driveway.
Karen bails her husband out of jail by forcing her parents to sell their house. Henry and his family are left penniless because Karen flushed all the cocaine when the police came. After Henry’s drug arrest, Jimmy and the rest of the mob abandon him. Convinced that he and his family are marked for death, Henry decides to become an informant for the FBI. He and his family enter the federal Witness Protection Program, disappearing into anonymity to save their lives, but not before he testifies against Paulie and Jimmy in court.