Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Pope of Greenwich Village

Based on the novel by Vincent Patrick, The Pope of Greenwich Village is the story of two cousins who decide to go into crime to help fund their dreams of owning and running a restaurant. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg and screenplay by Vincent Patrick, the film is an unconventional crime-drama that follows two men trying to do whatever they can to get money as well as go head-on into the world of crime. Starring Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Darryl Hannah, Geraldine Page, Kenneth McMillan, Frank Vincent, M. Emmet Walsh, and Burt Young. The Pope of Greenwich Village is a witty and exhilarating film from Stuart Rosenberg.

The film follows two Italian-American cousins working and living at the Greenwich Village area of New York City as they dream of being successful and run their own restaurant where they go into the world to crime to fund that dream. It’s a film that is about two guys trying to do what they can yet they deal with so much adversity as well as the fact that one of them is a total screw-up and the other is cautious with a lot to deal with. Vincent Patrick’s screenplay explores the unique dynamic between Charlie (Mickey Rourke) and Paulie (Eric Roberts) as these two cousins who both want to succeed yet Charlie is someone that is trying to work hard and do things the right way. Paulie is a guy that likes to scheme and often put Charlie in trouble as the film begins with Charlie working as a maître d’ at a restaurant where Paulie is the waiter who gets Charlie in trouble and they both lose their job.

Paulie gets a tip about money stashed in a safe as he coerces Charlie to be involved as they’re joined by a locksmith/clock repairman in Barney (Kenneth McMillan) as their safecracker. The job succeeds except for an encounter with an undercover policeman (Jack Kehoe) that went wrong as Charlie then learns who the money belongs to which causes even more trouble. Adding to Charlie’s problems is that he is paying alimony to his ex-wife as they have a son and his girlfriend Diane (Daryl Hannah) is pregnant with his child as he is trying to do good things for her. Still, Charlie has a loyalty to Paulie which irks Diane since she knows that Paulie is an idiot and always find a way to mess things up. Even as Paulie would be confronted by hoods who work for the mobster Bed Bug Eddie (Burt Young) including Paulie’s Uncle Pete (Tony Musante) forcing Charlie to settle the matter.

Stuart Rosenberg’s direction does have bits of style yet much of it is straightforward as it is shot on location in New York City and in the Greenwich Village area with some of it shot in New Jersey. While Rosenberg would use a lot of wide shots that would create some unique compositions of the characters on a roof with certain city landmarks in the background. Much of the compositions Rosenberg creates are intimate with its close-ups and medium shots that includes a key meeting between detectives and the mother of the dead undercover officer as it’s a very chilling moment due to what happened to the undercover officer and his mother’s reaction. There are scenes of humor in the film yet much of it is dramatic with some stylish dialogue as it play into the environment of the film. Rosenberg’s direction also play into this world of the streets where it has its own rules and idea of justice as it’s something Charlie is fully aware of while Paulie is sort of ignorant about it thinking he can charm or bullshit his way out of a situation. The third act revolves around Paulie dealing with the consequences of who he stole the money from and the fallout of those consequences in which Charlie realizes what he has to do. Yet, there is a sense of conflict in Charlie in whether to help out someone that is family or to save himself. Overall, Rosenberg crafts a lively and engaging film about two cousins going to crime to fund their dream.

Cinematographer John Bailey does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with the richness of some of the daytime exterior scenes as well as the usage of low-key lights for Bed Bug’s hideout in its interiors and the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Robert Brown does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward to play into the drama and the few moments of suspense such as Paulie being confronted by his uncle. Production designer Paul Sylbert and set decorator George DeTitta Sr. do fantastic work with the look of the restaurant Charlie and Paulie work at in the film’s opening sequence as well as the former’s apartment and the place where Bed Bug works at.

Costume designer Joseph G. Aulisi does nice work with the costumes from the stylish suits that Charlie wears to some of the stylish clothes that Paulie wears. Sound mixer James Sabat does terrific work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of some of the locations. The film’s music by Dave Grusin does amazing work with the film’s soundtrack as it’s a mixture of jazz and pop to play into the energy of Greenwich Village while music supervisor Harry V. Lojewski provide a fun soundtrack that mixes pop and jazz that include music from Frank Sinatra.

The casting by Bonnie Timmerman is superb as it feature some notable small roles from Joe Grifasi as Jimmy the Cheese Man, Philip Bosco as Paulie’s father, Val Avery and M. Emmet Walsh as a couple of detectives, Tony Musante as Paulie’s Uncle Pete, Jack Kehoe as the undercover detective Bunky, and Frank Vincent as Bed Bug’s crew chief. Geraldine Page is incredible in her brief two-scene performance as Bunky’s mother Mrs. Ritter as a woman who is wondering what her son is doing and later cope with the aftermath as it’s just a very powerful performance. Burt Young is fantastic as Bed Bug Eddie as a local mob hood who is trying to maintain some power in his turf while wanting to find out who stole his money. Kenneth McMillan is excellent as Barney as locksmith/clock repairman who helps Charlie and Paulie as their safecracker where he understand what is going on as well as becoming uneasy about who the money belonged to where he knows something is about to go wrong.

Daryl Hannah is brilliant as Diane as Charlie’s girlfriend who is concerned about what Charlie is doing as well as seeing if he can provide a future for both of them and their child that is on the way. Finally, there’s the duo of Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as the cousins Charlie and Paulie. Rourke provides a performance that is grounded while also having moments of anger and frustration into the obstacles he is given relating to his dreams of running his own restaurant and his relationship with Diane. Roberts’ performance is filled with charm and an energy that is insatiable to watch as someone that is often upbeat but also naïve about the ways of the world as Roberts is always fun to watch. Rourke and Roberts together have this chemistry that is powerful as well as having this sense of brotherhood as two guys who depend on each other no matter how fucked up one of them is.

The Pope of Greenwich Village is a remarkable film from Stuart Rosenberg that feature top-notch performances from Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. Along with its great supporting cast, riveting story, dazzling visuals, and a fun soundtrack, it’s a film that explore the folly of ambition and crime as well as two cousins trying to do whatever they can to reach their dream. In the end, The Pope of Greenwich Village is a sensational film from Stuart Rosenberg.

Stuart Rosenberg Films: (Murder Inc.) – (Question 7) – Cool Hand Luke - (The April Fools) – (Move (1970 film)) – (WUSA) – (Pocket Money) – (The Laughing Policeman) – (The Drowning Pool) – (Voyage of the Damned) – (Love and Bullets) – (The Amityville Horror) – (Brubaker) – (Let’s Get Harry) – (My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys)

© thevoid99 2017


Chris said...

I have it on my list. Seems to be an under-appreciated 80s movie not a lot of people have seen, but with great performances. Hope to check it out soon.

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-See it. It's a film that needs to be seen more as it's an example of how great Rourke is and why Eric Roberts doesn't get enough appreciation.