5 World-Famous Movie Scenes That Were Total Accidents

FIVE

The Big Shark Attack Scene In Jaws Was A Real Shark Randomly Attacking The Set

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is infamous for the wildly expensive and dangerous animatronic sharks they were forced to use in place of the real deal. (Real sharks don’t always hit their marks, you see. Also they eat their co-stars.) Robots, no matter how primitive, were the best option. But Spielberg forgot one important thing: When you’re in the ocean, you don’t get to decide when sharks show up. The sharks do.

During the climax of the film, our heroes are stranded on a boat that is slowly sinking, while the monstrous shark waits in the waters below. In a last act of defiance, oceanographer Hooper lowers himself into the water inside a shark-proof cage, intending to poison the beast. Clearly, this is the moment when Hooper gets turned into a fine red mist, right? That’s how it goes in the novel, after all. And while the script also initially called for the death of Hooper, Spielberg reconsidered after seeing footage of a breakout performance. No, not by Richard Dreyfuss — by a live shark.

Universal PicturesThe shark would later return to direct Jaws 3D.

While shark photographers filmed footage in Australia to give Spielberg a realistic underwater cage scene, a wild shark appeared and decided to try its hand (fin?) at the movie business. The shark pounded the hell out of the cage, eventually getting itself tangled in the cables. There was a problem: Neither Hooper or a dummy representing Hooper was in the cage while the shark was going ape in a mess of wires. The footage of a terrifying shark going bonkers was great, but unless Hooper was wearing an invisibility cloak, an empty cage messed up the narrative. So Spielberg rewrote the script, having Hooper swim away in time and thus survive the movie. Even better, he escaped the fate worse than death which claimed Roy Scheider: the sequels.

FOUR

The Godfather‘s Cat Was A Stray Coppola Found Wandering The Set

At the beginning of The Godfather, Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone sits in his office granting wishes like a well-dressed genie who just came from the dentist. While a series of Italian goons come and pay their respects, Corleone sits idly, stroking a tiny cat. It’s a boss move, and makes for an iconic scene. And it only happened because Francis Ford Coppola has a soft spot for strays.

Paramount Pictures“It meowed me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Neither the script nor the novel it was based on had Don Corleone own a cat. The kitty was a last-minute addition to the scene, made solely because Coppola had found it running around the studio lot and thought it was adorable. One problem: The cat enjoyed the attention so much that its purrs drowned out Brando’s dialogue. Still, Coppola refused to cut the cat, even when it got so bad that they had to consider using subtitles. Fortunately, the crew managed to adjust the sound enough to keep Vito’s dialogue comprehensible — as comprehensible as Brando could get during his Big Mac period, anyway.

THREE

Woody Allen Actually Sneezed During Annie Hall‘s Cocaine Scene

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen stars as neurotic comedian Alvy Singer, who sleeps with women far out of his league and generally nerds his way through the druggy intellectual scene of 1970s New York. But when Singer sits down with some of his new bohemian friends to try cocaine, he accidentally sneezes and sends a cloud of good-time dust across the room.

United ArtistsAnd that’s why they call it “blow.”

The scene perfectly exemplifies how dorky and out of place Allen’s character is, and it only happened because Allen himself is such an actual dork. Whatever white powder they put in front of Allen for the scene genuinely didn’t agree with his sinuses, and he had a massive allergic reaction. Allen hung onto the scene, and it got so much laughter from test audiences that he decided to keep the blooper in the final cut. It wound up becoming one of his most celebrated gags. It also taught Allen that real-life mistakes will always be more interesting than the ones you fabricate — something he has since vigorously applied to his personal life.

TWO

The Song During A Clockwork Orange‘s Darkest Scene Was An Improvisation To “Lighten The Mood”

Stanley Kubrick is the master of layers, seeker of the perfect take, and scourge of gaffers wanting to get home in time for dinner. It should come as a surprise, then, that the very director who allegedly made Shelley Duvall crazy by forcing her to do 127 takes in a row left one of his most iconic scenes completely up to chance.

A Clockwork Orange is about Alex Delarge, a 17-year-old sociopath played by Malcolm McDowell who only lives for violence, sexual assault, and classical music. And in one scene, we get to see all three, when McDowell does a gleeful jig in the midst of a gruesome home invasion and gang rape, all while crooning the lyrics to “Singin’ In The Rain”.

That part of the scene was improvised by McDowell. Apparently, Kubrick thought that the whole vibe was getting a bit too dark (as rape scenes tend to be), and he asked McDowell to sing a jaunty little something to pick up their spirits. McDowell picked “Singin’ In The Rain” because he thought it was “Hollywood’s gift to the world of euphoria,” and Kubrick agreed.

Of course, they didn’t have the budget to license the song, and no way in hell would Gene Kelly ever agree to it, but that wasn’t a problem. Kubrick simply didn’t pay for it. Besides, merely having your work featured in a Stanley Kubrick film should be more than enough compensation.

No seriously, that’s what Kubrick thought.

ONE

That Wasn’t A Joke — Ben Stiller Just Forgot His Line In Zoolander

In 2001, Ben Stiller decided to turn a pair of sketches he had directed for the VH1 Fashion Awards years previously into a feature film, presumably to get people to forget about The Cable Guy. The result was Zoolander, starring Stiller as Derek Zoolander, a male fashion model who finds out that being a fashion model isn’t all eating disorders and stupid tiny dogs. Male models are in fact highly trained assassins … with eating disorders and stupid tiny dogs. While on the trail of an evil fashion mogul, Zoolander meets a hand model, Prewett (played by David Duchovny), who knows all about the assassination program. Zoolander asks him why they pick male models to become killers, to which Prewett gives a lengthy and easy-to-follow explanation.

And Zoolander replies, “But why male models?”

It’s supposed to illustrate how short Zoolander’s attention span is, but it truly illustrates how short Ben Stiller’s attention span is, because the line was really a mistake. During Duchovny’s long monologue, Stiller had forgotten what line he was supposed to say in response, and accidentally repeated the last one he could remember. Duchovny, always a pro, responded in-character, “Are you kidding? I just told you like a minute ago.” Stiller realized the exchange was pretty funny and worked for the character, so he decided to keep it in the movie. And it goes to show: You can feign stupid all you want, but nothing is funnier than the real thing.

 

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The Real-Life Goodfellas: The Story Behind The Movie

These are the stories behind the real men and women whose lives were depicted in the movie Goodfellas.

Real Life Goodfellas

Few would deny that Goodfellas has become a classic, and Martin Scorsese, in making it, arguably produced the ultimate gangster picture and set the bar pretty high. But Goodfellas is so much more than just a mob movie. It is also one of the best satires of the American dream, a rise-and-fall movie, a tragedy, and a comedy.

One of the aspects of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas that has elevated the film to the classic status it holds today is the intense realism of its depictions of the life in the Mafia. This realism largely stems from the fact that, unlike films such as The Godfather and Once Upon A Time In America, Goodfellas is based on a true story of one gangster, his associates, and one of the most daring heists in American history.

The story comes courtesy of the 1986 nonfiction bestseller Wiseguy that detailed the life of Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill, as well as his comrades like James “Jimmy The Gent” Burke and Thomas DeSimone, and their involvement in the infamous Lufthansa heist.

This was, at the time, the largest robbery ever committed on U.S. soil. Eleven mobsters, mainly associates of the Lucchese crime family, stole $5.875 million (more than $20 million today) in cash and jewels from a vault at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Here are the true stories of the people who carried out this heist as well as countless other crimes that helped make Goodfellas the crime classic it is today.

Henry Hill

Henry Hill Mugshot

Henry Hill, the central character in Goodfellas (played by Ray Liotta), was born in 1943 to an Irish-American father and a Sicilian-American mother in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York.

It was a neighborhood filled with Mafiosos and Hill admired them all from a young age. At just 14, Hill dropped out of school to start working for Paul Vario, a capo in the Lucchese crime family, and thus became a member of the infamous Vario crew. Hill started out just picking up money from local rackets and bringing them to the boss, but his responsibilities quickly escalated.

He began to get involved in arson, assault, and credit card fraud. After returning from a short military stint in the early 1960s, Hill returned to a life of crime. Though his Irish blood meant that he could never be a made man, he nevertheless became a highly active associate of the Lucchese family.

Among Hill’s closest compatriots at this time was fellow Lucchese family associate and friend of Paul Vario, James Burke. After years of truck hijacking, arson, and other crimes (including extortion, for which he served time in the 1970s), Hill and Burke played major roles in orchestrating the Lufthansa heist in 1978.

At the same time, Hill was involved in a point-shaving racket with the 1978-79 Boston College basketball team and ran a major narcotics operation in which he sold marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and quaaludes wholesale.

It was the drugs that brought Hill’s downfall when he was arrested on trafficking charges in April 1980. Initially, he wouldn’t fold to police interrogators, but amid growing suspicions that some of his own associates were planning to kill him in fear that he might put them in legal trouble, Hill began to talk.

In fact, it was Hill’s testimony about the Lufthansa heist that brought the arrests of many of the other men involved — and became the basis for Wiseguy, and thus Goodfellas.

After testifying, Hill was placed in the Witness Protection Program but was kicked out of after repeatedly revealing his true identity to others. He was, nonetheless, never tracked down and killed by his former associates, but instead died of complications related to heart disease on June 12, 2012, the day after his 69th birthday.

 

James Burke a.k.a. “Jimmy The Gent”

Jimmy The Gent

James Burke, played by Robert De Niro as “Jimmy Conway” in the film, was the principal architect of the Lufthansa heist.

Soon after he was born — in 1931, to an Irish immigrant single mother in New York — Burke was placed into foster care and shifted from orphanages to foster homes and back throughout his childhood. He suffered sexual and physical abuse from these caretakers, with one of his foster fathers even dying in a car crash because he was reaching back to hit Burke. The man’s widow blamed Burke for the accident and beat him for it until the child was moved on to his next stop.

Like Henry Hill, Burke’s Irish-American heritage made it impossible for him to become a “made man,” but by the 1950s, he had become a major player in the South Ozone Park and East New York criminal underworld with Paul Vario’s crew, earning his nickname “Jimmy The Gent” for his practice of tipping the drivers of the trucks that he stole.

Despite his nickname, Burke was known for his extreme violence. In 1962, for example, his fiancée told him that she was being harassed by an ex-boyfriend. On the wedding day, the police found the remains of the man cut up in a dozen pieces in his own car.

Burke is also thought to be the one who ordered, and possibly carried out, the murders of most of the men involved in the Lufthansa heist.

Soon after, following Henry Hill’s testimony in 1982, Burke was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his involvement in the 1978–79 Boston College basketball point shaving scandal. While in prison, Burke was convicted of a previous murder he had committed and received another life sentence. He died in prison due to lung cancer in 1996.

Karen Hill

Karen Hill

Karen Hill — Henry’s wife, played by Lorraine Bracco in the film — was born Karen Friedman in New York City in 1946. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Long Island where she was raised in the Five Towns area.

She first met Henry through mutual friends while she was working at a dental office in New York. The pair’s first meeting — at the Villa Capra, a restaurant owned by notorious mobster “Frankie The Wop” — was a double date involving Paul Vario’s son, Paul Jr. (not Thomas DeSimone, as depicted in the film).

At first, Karen said that the date was disastrous and that Henry even stood her up on her second date, only further lowering her opinion of him. However, following a number of lavish dates after these initial fiascos, the two became a couple.

Karen and Henry eloped to North Carolina in 1965 when she was just 19, but eventually had a large Jewish ceremony back home to appease her parents. Soon after, they had two children, Gregg and Gina, and lived together with Karen’s parents before moving into their own place as Henry’s status rose within Vario’s crew.

But things turned sour when Henry went to prison on extortion charges in the 1970s. In his memoirs, Henry claims that, during this time, Karen was sleeping with Vario. When Henry faced prison again, on drug charges in 1980, he instead testified for the government, entered the Witness Protection Program, and took Karen and their kids along with him.

Eventually, however, Karen and Henry divorced in 1989, though it was not finalized until 2001.

Since then, she has remarried and lived under an alias due to the exposure from Wiseguy and Goodfellas.

Thomas DeSimone

Tommyd Henry Hill

Perhaps the most likable character in Goodfellas and unquestionably one of the most famous villains in film history is Tommy DeVito (played by Joe Pesci). In real life, he was known by the name Thomas DeSimone. Nicknamed “Two-Gun Tommy” or “Tommy D,”however, DeSimone was an imposing man who stood 6’2″ and weighed 225 pounds. DeSimone too stepped into the world of crime early in his life, joining Paul Vario’s crew in 1965, and according to Henry Hill, he committed his first murder two years later, when he was only 17 years old.however, His courage and determination were widely known in Mafia circles, but it was his short temper that would bring him a lot of trouble throughout his life. He was a “pure psychopath,” according to Henry Hill.

Joe Pesci portrayed Tommy DeVito (based on Thomas DeSimone) in “Goodfellas.”

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1950 to a deeply-rooted Mafia family, DeSimone soon after moved to New York City with his family.

DeSimone’s extended family included feared mobsters like a grandfather and an uncle who were both bosses of a Los Angeles crime family in the 1920s and 1950s, respectively. DeSimone also had two brothers that were associates of the powerful Gambino crime family in New York, one of which was murdered by the family for allegedly cooperating with authorities.

The weight of his brother’s reputation left DeSimone with something to prove, causing him to frequently lash out at others with violence. Finally, his sister, Phyllis, was a mistress of Jimmy Burke. Through this connection, Burke brought DeSimone on as a member of the Vario crew.

In the testimony used for the book Wiseguy, Henry Hill recalls that when he first met DeSimone, he was “a skinny kid who was wearing a wiseguy suit and a pencil mustache.” But at the age of 17, DeSimone committed his first murder. He shot a random pedestrian walking past him and Hill. He reportedly told Hill, “Hey, Henry, watch this.” before shooting the man in the head with a .38 pistol.

According to Hill, DeSimone relished the idea of killing people, his murderous tendencies aided by the fact that he was very often high on cocaine.

Perhaps DeSimone’s most brutal murder came in 1970, during a welcome home party for formerly imprisoned William “Billy Batts” Bentvena, a made man in the Gambino family. DeSimone became enraged over a snide comment that Bentvena made about DeSimone having once been a shoeshine boy. A couple of weeks later, because of the shoeshine comment as well as the fact that Burke had taken over Bentvena’s loan shark operation while the latter was in prison and didn’t want to relinquish it, Burke and DeSimone plotted to kill Bentvena.

Burke invited Bentvena to a bar owned by Hill for a night of drinking with the Vario crew. Burke got Bentvena drunk and then held him down while DeSimone beat him with a pistol. Thinking he was dead, Burke, Hill, and DeSimone placed him in the trunk of their car and drove away. After hearing sounds from the trunk, DeSimone and Burke realized that he was not yet dead, then beat and stabbed him to death before burying his body under a dog kennel.

Eight years later, during the Lufthansa heist, DeSimone acted as one of the key gunmen who collected the money. Then, following the robbery, he also carried out the killing of Parnell “Stacks” Edwards, a criminal associate that the thieves had hired to dispose of the truck used in the heist, but who had failed to do so.

DeSimone’s efforts were about to pay off in 1979 as he was told he was about to become a made man of the Lucchese Family. However, instead of becoming a made man, he got a bullet in the head after the Gambino family and Lucchese family decided to liquidate him because he had killed Billy Batts of the Gambino family, a made man.

In 1979, almost a year after the heist, DeSimone was declared missing.Hill further alleged that DeSimone was handed over to the Gambinos by Vario, who had learned that DeSimone had attempted to rape Karen Hill, Henry’s wife and Vario’s mistress.

Paul Vario

Paul Vario Mugshot

At the head of the operation responsible for many of the crimes committed by Thomas DeSimone, Henry Hill, and James Burke was Paul Vario, renamed “Paul Cicero” and played by Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas.

Vario was born in New York City in 1914 and began getting himself into legal trouble from an early age. By the time he was an adult, Vario was an experienced criminal, and at 6’3″, an imposing figure. His involvement in racketeering and loan-sharking led him into the Lucchese crime family, with which he became a made man and eventually a crew leader (“capo”).

With this crew and other associates, Vario gained control of most organized crime in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, near what is now known as John F. Kennedy International Airport, a major source of income for Vario’s crew.

Vario would rob the airport, extort its employees, and use his union connections to block federal investigators. And when Jimmy Burke came to Vario with the plans for the Lufthansa heist at the airport, it was ultimately Vario who had to approve it.

Not merely a boss who approved criminal activities without getting his own hands dirty, Vario himself was known to be a violent man. When a waiter accidentally spilled wine on his wife at a restaurant, for example, Vario sent men with baseball bats to beat the restaurant’s staff later that night.

In the end, Vario was arrested based on Hill’s testimony that Vario had defrauded the government by creating a fictitious job that would ensure Hill’s release from prison. Vario died in prison of a heart attack in 1988.

William Bentvena a.k.a. “Billy Batts”

Billy Batts Henry Hill

William “Billy Batts” Bentvena was born in 1921 in New York City and was raised in the same part of east Brooklyn as Henry Hill. In Goodfellas, Bentvena is only referred to by his nickname and is played by Frank Vincent.

Like his compatriots in the neighborhood, Bentvena became involved in crime at a young age, and by 1951 he was an associate of the Gambino crime family.

Unlike Henry Hill, Bentvena was a full-blooded Italian-American, and as such was able to become a made man. He reached this rank in 1961 and began carrying out hits as a street soldier with infamous mobster John Gotti.

He was arrested in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1964 while conducting a drug deal for the Gambino family and was sentenced to six years in prison. While Bentvena was in prison, Burke took over his loanshark operation.

Upon Bentvena’s release, Burke and DeSimone murdered him rather than give back the loanshark operation.

 

Structure of the Mafia

Each regional Mafia is made up of various Families or gangs. The no. may range from a few to over a 100 depending upon the region. Each Family has separate business dealings and tend to stay out of each other’s way. But sometimes their business enterprises may intermingle with each other to a very large extent, depending upon their proximity to each other and the nature of the business.

The Mafia had a very effective structure. It prevented the higher-ranked members of the Families to be responsible for the criminal enterprises. And any lower-ranked Mafioso could easily be bailed out of jail by cleaning his record and bribing the judges. The cops were also generally of the Mafia’s payroll and “looked the other way” whenever the Mafia were involved.


The picture displays a typical structure of the Mafia. Most of the Families had similar structures but there may have been slight differences.

The leader of each Mafia Family was known as the Boss or Don. He made all the major decisions and all the Mafia income ultimately came to him. His authority was required to control the Mafia members and to resolve any disputes.

Beneath the Don is the Underboss. The Underboss is the second-in-command but the power he had varied with different Mafia Families. In some cases he wielded enormous power and in some he wielded relatively much less. Some Underbosses were trained to succeed the Don on the event of his death or retirement.

There is a position between the Don and the Underboss too – The Consigliere. He acts like an adviser to the Don and is supposed to make impartial decisions based upon fairness and for the good of the Mafia, rather thank on personal vendettas. This p[position is generally appointed by the Don but sometimes it is also elected by members of the Mafia. The Consigliere also acts like the mouth of the Don often and commands huge respect just like the Don. He is, however, not directly involved with the criminal enterprises of the Mafia.

Just below the Underboss are the Capos. The number of Capos varied between the Families and depended upon the overall size of the Mafia Family. A Capo acts like a lieutenant or captain, leading his own section of the Family. He operates specific activities of the Mafia. A Capo is regarded to be successful only if he earns a huge amount of money for the Mafia. He keeps some of his earnings and the rest are passed up to the Underboss and ultimately the Don.

Below the Capo’s are the made-men and soldiers. Made-men are the ultimate enforcers of the Family who have proved themselves and command respect from their fellow Mafioso. Soldier’s are the lowest Mafia members. They do all the “dirty work” and as such are generally the ones arrested by the police. Soldiers command little respect and make relatively less money. The number of soldiers and made-men belonging to a Capo may vary tremendously.

The Mafia also use Associates. Associates are not actual members of the  mafia but are people involved with the criminal enterprises. The Mafia works through them. They may be drug-dealers, burglars, assassins, lawyers, or even police and politicians who are on the Mafia’s payroll.


Terminology of the Mafia ranks

Traditional terminology
1. Capo di tuttu capi (the “Boss of All Bosses”)
2. Capo di Capi Re (a title of respect given to a senior or retired member, equivalent to being a member emeritus, literally, “King Boss of Bosses”)
3. Capo Crimine (“Crime Boss”, known as a Don – the head of a crime family)
4. Capo Bastone (“Club Head”, known as the “Underboss” is second in command to the Capo Crimine)
5. Consigliere(an advisor)6. Caporegime(“Regime head”, a captain who commands a “crew” of around twenty or more Sgarriste or “soldiers”)
7. Sgarrista or Soldato (“Soldier”, made members of the Mafia who serve primarily as foot soldiers)
8. Picciotto (“Little man”, a low ranking member who serves as an “enforcer”)
9. Giovane D’Onore (an associate member, usually someone not of Italian ancestry)

Italian Mafia structure Capofamiglia –
Capofamiglia – (Don/Boss)
Consigliere – (Counselor/Advisor/Right-hand man)
Sotto Capo – (Underboss/Second-in-command)
Capodecina – (Captain/Capo)
Uomini D’onore – (“Men of Honor”/Made men/Soldiers


Frank Vincent, ‘Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Actor, Dies at 78

Frank Vincent, an Italian character actor who uttered the famous line “Now go home and get your fuc*^% shine box” to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy D. in Goodfellas, died today during open heart surgery, TMZ reports. He was 78.Vincent was a beloved actor who made a name for himself playing notoriously tough characters, like Billy Batts in “Goodfellas” and Frank Marino in “Casino.

He began acting in 1976 when he co-starred in the low-budget crime film “The Death Collector” alongside Joe Pesci. Vincent then acted in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which sparked the first of many collaborations between Vincent, Pesci, and Robert De Niro

Frank Vincent, an Italian character actor who uttered the famous line “Now go home and get your fuc*^% shine box” to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy D. in Goodfellas, died today during open heart surgery, TMZ reports. He was 78.

He began acting in 1976 when he co-starred in the low-budget crime film “The Death Collector” alongside Joe Pesci. Vincent then acted in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which sparked the first of many collaborations between Vincent, Pesci, and Robert De Niro

On HBO’s The Sopranos, Leotardo often butted heads with James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano as he eventually rose to become boss of the Lupertazzi crime family.

“He didn’t fool around. Phil was serious,” Vincent said in a 2011 interview. “He had a job to do and he thought, you know, ‘This Soprano guy is from Jersey, what does that mean? We are New Yorkers! The Jersey mob is nothing — they don’t even prick their fingers when they do the ceremony.’ Some of the writing for Phil was just brilliant.”

His film résumé also included The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), Brian De Palma’s Wise Guys(1986), Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991), Sidney Lumet’s Night Falls on Manhattan (1996), James Mangold’s Cop Land (1997), Shark Tale (2004) and Chicago Overcoat (2009).

Vincent also appeared in Hype Williams’ Belly (1998) and served as the official acting coach to rappers DMX, Nas and Method Man on the film.

A native of North Adams, Mass., Vincent was raised in Jersey City, N.J. and became a drummer, performing with the likes of Paul Anka, Del Shannon, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme and Trini Lopez and the Belmonts.

Scorsese saw Vincent playing a gambler who gets killed by the mob in The Death Collector (1976) — the film starred Joe Pesci, who helped get him the role — then cast him alongside Pesci and Robert De Niro as Salvi in the iconic boxing movie Raging Bull. In that film, his character is beaten to a pulp in the Copacabana by Pesci’s Joey.

Check out this

offtheclothboff.com/2017/01/30/the-cast-of-the-sopranos-then-and-now/

The Cast of ‘The Sopranos’ Then and Now

Back in 1999, the world was introduced to arguably the best TV show ever created. Set primarily in New Jersey, ‘The Sopranos’ explored the story of mobster Tony Soprano, a man attempting to keep his home life, as well as his mental state, intact in a profession where a bullet could come flying around any corner.

The series was a win in all forms, with the acting, writing, dialogue and overall believability holding us captivated with each episode that aired (yes, even the finale). With that in mind, let’s take a look at where the cast of ‘The Sopranos’ is today.

Tony Soprano — James Gandolfini

Tony Soprano

HBO / Paul A. Hebert, Getty Images

Then: Back when ‘The Sopranos’ was killing it in the ratings, James Gandolfini became not only a star, but also known for his brute onscreen personality. Much to everyone’s surprise, Gandolfini’s true persona was that of a pacifist. Before ‘The Sopranos’ took to HBO, Gandolfini had played memorable tough guys in films such as ‘Get Shorty’ and ‘True Romance.’

Now: Gandolfini died suddenly of a heart attack in 2013 at the age of 51 while vacationing in Rome. His death rocked Hollywood and led to scores of tributes. Before he passed away, he had appeared in acclaimed films like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Enough Said.’ His last credit is for a film called ‘The Drop,’ slated to open later in 2014.

Carmela Soprano — Edie Falco

Carmela Soprano

HBO / Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Then: The role of Tony’s wife, Carmela Soprano, wasn’t the first time Edie Falco worked with HBO — she was already known for her role as Diane Whittlesey on the network’s prison drama ‘Oz.’ A struggling actress at the age of 30, she was given small breaks with roles in ‘Law & Order,’ ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ and ‘Laws of Gravity,’ and a big break with Woody Allen’s ‘Bullets Over Broadway.’ Yet among them all, her Emmy-winning portrayal of Carmela would be one that would change her life.

Now: Since her ‘Sopranos’ days, Falco’s career has been a continued success, earning another Emmy Award for her title role on the Showtime series ‘Nurse Jackie.’ Falco has also found herself appearing in numerous Broadway plays that have won high praise from critics and audiences alike.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi — Lorraine Bracco

Jennifer Melfi

HBO / Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Then: Certainly no stranger to the mob motif (Bracco co-starred in the Martin Scorsese classic ‘Goodfellas’), the actress known Dr. Melfi was originally offered the role of Carmela Soprano. Thinking it was too close to her ‘Goodfellas’ role, Bracco instead asked to play Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist. The choice turned out to be the right one.

Now: Today, Bracco went on to play Angela Rizzoli on TNT’s ‘Rizzoli & Isles.’ Outside of acting, she owns Bracco Wines, a line of wines that was featured on the season one finale of ‘Top Chef.’

Christopher Moltisanti — Michael Imperioli

Chris Moltisanti

Michael Imperioli.com / Jemal Countess, Getty Images

Then: Another ‘Goodfellas’ cast member, Michael Imperioli played Christopher Moltisanti,Tony’s nephew who constant struggled with drugs and alcohol. His character dreamed of being a Hollywood screenwriter, which is the exact path Imperioli took, directing and writing a few ‘Sopranos’ episodes himself.

Now: Since his ‘Sopranos’ fame, Imperioli’s credits have continued, starring in the now defunct ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Detroit 1-8-7′ and appearing in various films. He’s also appeared on the Showtime series ‘Californication.’ However, perhaps his most notable performance since ‘The Sopranos’ is the popular 1800 Tequila commercials in which he ruggedly mocks a bottle of Petron while “his” tequila pours him a shot. Yes, it’s very intimidating.

Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri — Tony Sirico

Paulie Walnuts

HBO / Roger Kisby, Getty Images

Then: Before his acting career took off, Sirico, aka Paulie Walnuts, was an actual mobster, having served two different stints in the big house in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Since then, it was goodbye crime and hello Hollywood. Oddly enough, despite his lengthy list of credits, Sirico is mainly know for playing… you guessed it, mobsters! Word has it that he agreed to play Paulie on one condition, that his character would not be a ‘rat.’

Now: Sirico seems to have slowed down since ‘The Sopranos’ ended, making appearances on shows such as ‘Chuck’ and ‘Medium.’ Lately he’s transitioned from mobsters to cops, donning badges in films like ‘Zarra’s Law’ and the awesomely named ‘Jersey Shore Shark Attack.’ He’s also logged a guest role on the acclaimed Netflix series ‘Lilyhammer’ and done some voicework on ‘Family Guy.’

Silvio Dante — Steven Van Zandt

Silvio Dante

HBO / Jason Kempkin, Getty Images

Then: Before ‘The Sopranos’ began Van Zandt was a struggling musician in some musical combo called The E Street Band headed by a guy from Jersey named Bruce Springsteen. Already having the world in the palm of his hands, Little Steven’s career hit a new high when he took on the role of Silvio Dante.

Now: Age means nothing to this guy, who consistently tours with Springsteen and the E Street Band. Aside from his first love, Van Zandt starred in ‘Lilyhammer’ and served as an executive producer on the 2013 film ‘Not Fade Away,’ which was written and directed by ‘Sopranos’ creator David Chase.

Meadow Soprano — Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Meadow Soprano

HBO / David Livingston, Getty Images

Then: Beginning her acting and singing career at the age of seven, Jamie-Lynn Sigler was cast as Meadow Soprano at just 18. In the earlier seasons, Meadow was intelligent yet somewhat troubled. However, as the show rolled on she grew into a young woman who learned the consequences of life — often firsthand, given her father’s “business.”

Now: Life post-‘Sopranos’ has been rather bright for Sigler, who guest starred on 13 episodes of HBO’s ‘Entourage’ and five episodes of ‘Ugly Betty.’ She also starred on the short-lived TV series ‘Guys with Kids.’ In August 2013, she and husband Cutter Dykstra welcomed a baby boy.

A.J. Soprano — Robert Iler

A.J. Soprano

HBO / Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Then: Iler played Anthony Soprano, Jr., or A.J., the youngest Soprano child. His character could be seen as that of a slacker, often lazy and finding various hardships during his adolescence. Iler didn’t do much television acting before ‘The Sopranos,’ mainly appearing in commercials. However, once HBO cast him it was smooth sailing…sort of.

Now: With just one television credit post-Sopranos (he appeared on ‘Law & Order’ in 2009), Iler doesn’t seem to be doing much acting today. But he did show up on the ‘2010 World Series of Poker.’ Acting aside, Iler’s had multiple run-ins with the law for cases ranging from marijuana possession to larceny.

Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri — Steve Schirripa

Bobby Bacala

HBO / Roger Kisby, Getty Images

Then: Back in the early ’90s, Schirripa was working in Las Vegas when he got a part as an extra in the Martin  Scorsese film, ‘Casino.’ It seems quick, but it was just five years after his ‘Casino’ role that he was cast in ‘The Sopranos’ as Bobby Baccalieri.

Now: Today, Schirripa is doing just fine, with minor appearances on shows such as ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Brothers’ to more prominent television roles like ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’ He also serves as the host and narrator of ‘Nothing Personal,’ a true-crime series on Investigation Discovery.

Ralph Cifaretto — Joe Pantoliano

Ralph Cifaretto

HBO / Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

Then: Having already racked up an impressive acting resume before joining ‘The Sopranos’ — appearing everywhere from ‘The Goonies’ to ‘The Matrix’ — Pantoliano’s character Ralph Cifaretto pushed him to new heights. Playing a largely unlikable mobster, his character held an immense presence from the day he stepped foot on set to the very moment of his death — which was certainly a gruesome one.

Now: Even today, ‘Joey Pants’ pops up everywhere, having appeared in everything from ‘How to Make it In America’ to ‘The Simpsons.’ Aside from Hollywood, he is an author, having penned two memoirs titled ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ and the more recent, ‘Asylum,’ in which he discusses his diagnosis with clinical depression.

Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano — Dominic Chianese

Junior Soprano

HBO / Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Then: Starting his career in Off-Broadway plays and cabarets way back in 1952, Chianese got his first televised role in 1974’s ‘East Side/West Side.’ He would then go on to appear in ‘The Godfather: Part II,’ which sparked a friendship with fellow actor Al Pacino. However, among his lengthy list of accomplishments, his portrayal of Junior Soprano garnered him arguably the most attention.

Now: Life post-‘Sopranos’ is rather busy for Chianese,  even in his 80s. A celebrated musician, he’s also been featured on HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (created by ‘Sopranos’ writer Terrance Winter), ‘Damages,’ ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’

 

‘Escape From New York’ Facts

snake-plissken-kurt-russell

Kurt Russell and writer/director John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken was as intriguing as he was terrifying. A man who had no time for anything except completing the mission laid at his feet, Snake took down whatever authority figure or gang member who dared to stand in his way. He first took down Gotham in 1981’s Escape from New York, gliding into a version of Manhattan that had been isolated from the mainland and turned into a prison colony. His mission? Save the President of the United States (whose escape pod had landed in the city after terrorists had taken Air Force One). Plissken was called upon again in 1996 to rescue a different President’s rebellious daughter from a similarly isolated Los Angeles. Though the plot echoed the original in a few spots, the box office and critical acclaim did not despite another rock solid performance by Russell.

There has been talk about an Escape from New York reboot for years now, and while that may or may not happen, Kurt Russell’s take on the character will be nearly impossible to top, specifically in the minds of fans who have accepted Snake as iconic. In the spirit of the film’s 35th anniversary, here are some facts you may not know about the creation of Snake Plissken and the effort to bring him to life on the big screen for his escape from the big apple.

Kurt Russell scared people while in “Snake mode”

name-plissken

It’s obvious before he even opens his mouth that Snake is an intimating character. The eyepatch, the clothes, the look on his face that says “I could kill you without giving it a second thought,” it all adds up to one incredibly mean-looking dude. Russell spoke out on how he found out just how bad his character really was during a Q&A at EW’s Capetown Film Festival in 2013, relaying a story about a stroll he took through the streets of St. Louis while on location.

“One night I had to go down about three blocks, and we didn’t have anybody to go down there with me, so I just geared up with all my guns and everything – Snake’s coming in to wreak some havoc – and I came around the corner and there are these four guys there. We’re around the corner now, and none of my guys can see me. I just looked at these guys and they looked at me. And this is how different this was at that time: when you saw that guy, with a serious machine gun and a knife and a bunch of stuff you didn’t know what it was, even. I just flashed the light a little bit on the gun, and these guys looked at me, and they were pretty rough characters, and they just went, ‘Hey man, easy, easy.’ And they turned and walked away. I couldn’t wait to get back and tell John, ‘I think this guy’s going to work!’

Snake Plissken was a real guy

plissken-tattoo

Well, sorta. There wasn’t actually a gun-toting dude who had to break out of a super prison on Manhattan island, but John Carpenter did know a Snake. When writing the script, Carpenter was having a tough time coming up with a name that would capture his character’s true nastiness, but he happened to have a friend of a friend who knew somebody named Snake Plissken. Carpenter said it wasn’t just the name that he used for inspiration, but the real Snake’s ink, as well.

“When I was writing he script I had to come up with a name for my main character and I had a friend who knew a guy in Cleveland named Snake Plissken. He had a snake tattooed on him and he could make that snake move. He was kind of a high school tough guy and had some ridiculous qualities to him, and it just seemed like, that’s my hero. That’s my kinda guy.”

We have Kurt Russell to thank for the eyepatch

snake-plissken

Snake without an eyepatch would be like a unicorn without its horn, a hot dog without a bun, a Trump rally without a protest — some things just go together. Snake’s trademark eyepatch wasn’t actually part of John Carpenter’s original vision for Snake. That incredible addition was all Kurt Russell, who came up with the idea after being inspired by John Wayne’s eyepatch wearing tough guy, Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.

“I said to John, ‘I think it’d be cool to wear an eyepatch.’ I think a lot of guys would have gone, ‘Well, I don’t know…’ but John immediately went, ‘That’s great! I don’t think anybody’s worn an eyepatch since John Wayne in True Grit!’”

Not many actors have worn an eyepatch since Escape from New York, either, and there’s certainly nobody out there who’s rocked it better than Snake. Sorry, Sam Jackson.

Russell took a beating during his gladiator fight scene

ox-baker

Russell was already an acting vet by the time he began shooting Escape from New York, so throwing a fake punch was no big deal. His opponent, pro-wrestler Ox Baker, didn’t have as much practice, though, and laid into Russell a little too much during the fight scene. Carpenter recalled having to tell Baker to lay off because he was hitting with way too much force, saying, “If you look at the film, you’ll see a couple of shots in there where Kurt is fighting for his life.”

Russell eventually got the message across to Baker in a not so subtle, but effective way. According to Carpenter, Russell walked over to the wrestler during a break and gave him a light tap in the groin, telling him “you gotta ease up.” From then on, they didn’t have any issues.

Russell wasn’t the only actor considered for the role

bronson-snake

While it might be impossible to think of the Escape movies without Russell, he wasn’t the only actor up for the role. Carpenter felt that Russell was “the only man for the job,” but the studio wasn’t sure and wanted to look at other actors. Tommy Lee Jones, Chuck Norris, and Charles Bronson were all candidates for the part early on in the casting process. What eventually won the studio over was Carpenter’s relationship with Russell from their work together on the Elvis biopic.

During the Capetown festival, Russell commented on how Carpenter fought for his role in the movie and the desire he had to take it on.

“So I read it, and I said, ‘This is exactly what I want to do. It’s something that I know I can do that I know nobody is going to think of me for except for you, John.’ They wanted Charlie Bronson to do it, and John fought for me. A couple of times in my life, I’ve gotten to read something – Tombstone was like that – and I just said, ‘I’d love to do this.’”

Remember, we instantly think of Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, and Tango and Cash when we think of Russell, but in 1980, he was a guy who had done a lot of TV work (including the high-profile Elvis bio-pic), some Disney films, and starred in Used Cars. Seeing him as Snake was a career-altering revelation for Hollywood.

Snake’s bank robbery scene was cut

Snake certainly seems like the type of guy who would take up bank robbing, and Carpenter and Russell shot a scene for the film’s opening that had him doing just that. Audiences during test screenings found the scene confusing, though, and it was eventually left on the editing room floor. On the film’s DVD commentary, Carpenter would admit that the scene would have bogged down the film and given a little too much of Snake’s mysterious backstory to the audience.

Snake almost escaped from Earth

escape-earth

Due to the curse of time, we’re almost certainly never going to see Russell play Snake ever again (though, one never knows with the trend of other notable actors returning to play older versions of popular characters), but there was once a time years ago when a third Escape film wasn’t such an unrealistic possibility. While talking at the Capetown Film Festival, Russell entertained the ridiculous idea they once had for Snake’s next escape, saying, “The only other one we wanted to do, both John and I thought Escape from Earth for Snake.”

With Lockout, filmmaker Luc Besson trotted out his own escape from a prison in space film in 2012, much to the displeasure of Carpenter (who sued), but there’s only one Snake, so surely we can all unite in an effort to send Kurt Russell into space, can’t we?

If You Own Any Of The 25 Most Valuable VHS Tapes, You Could Make Thousands

VHS

If you decided to hold on to your old VHS tapes instead of throwing them all away, it could yet prove to be a wise decision.

In fact some VHS tapes are highly sought after these days, according to loveantiques.com.

If you’ve got a VHS copy of any of the following, you should probably get in touch with them:

Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (JVI) £1,500

 

Frank

The Beast in Heat (JVI) £1,200

 

Beast

 

The Legend of Hillbilly John (Rainbow) £1,000

5

 

Journey Into Beyond (Citycenta GO) £1,000

6

 

Lemora, Lady Dracula (IFS) £900

7

 

Don’t Open the Window (Films of the 80s) £900

8

 

Flesh Eaters (Knockout) £800

9

Black Decameron £800

4

 

Curse Of Death (£700)

10

 

Farewell Africa £600

Fare

 

 

Others which will make you a nice bit of change:

Betrayed (Taboo) – £1100
Celestine (GO) – £1100
Sisters Of Blood (Alpha) – £700
House Of Perversity (GO) – £600
Anthropophagus The Beats (Videoshack) – £500
Hitchhike To Hell (VRO) – £500
Devil Hunter (CineHollywood) – £500
Nightmare Maker [Orange Sleeve Version] (Atlantis) – £400
Madhouse [Alt. Sleeve] (Medusa) – £250
The Evil Dead [Not Guilty sleeve version] (Palace) – £200
The Love Butcher (Intervision) – £200
Eegah (Trytel) – £500
Cannibal Man (Intervision) – £500
Gallery Of Horror (Trytel) -£500
Tomb Of The Undead (Trytel) – £500

Well those all seem pretty obscure to say the least but someone out there’s got a copy, that’s for sure.