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Goodfellas

David Yarrow

Goodfellas

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GOODFELLAS
Chicago, USA – 2019

I have long been drawn to gangster films, and the director Martin Scorsese is one of my great inspirations. Chicago is the home of the mobster, and I was determined to capture the mood of Al Capone and the Prohibition era in a single frame. To my mind,... show more
GOODFELLAS
Chicago, USA – 2019

I have long been drawn to gangster films, and the director Martin Scorsese is one of my great inspirations. Chicago is the home of the mobster, and I was determined to capture the mood of Al Capone and the Prohibition era in a single frame. To my mind, this demanded a location that could substantiate the narrative. I homed in on the old neighborhood in Chicago where thousands of Italians used to live in the 1920s and 1930s. Around 24th Street and Oakley Avenue, it was a tight-knit community with roots in Tuscan towns such as Lucca.

On an intersection on 24th Street there is a well-known Italian restaurant, Bruna’s, which was around at the time of Capone. Bruna, an Italian lady, owned the joint for many years and allegedly fatally knifed a couple of customers during her tenure. Her portrait still holds court in the dining area.

I visited on the premise of being hungry, and I knew immediately there was potential. The current owner, Luciano from Siena, was willing to cooperate as long as some cash changed hands and he could be an extra in the image. Both requests seemed reasonable—besides, historical precedent suggested this was no place to argue with the owner.

The casting couch was as entertaining as it was difficult to distinguish between those who were acting and those who were the real deal. I could only vouch for two of them—Luciano, on the far left of the photograph, and Josie Canseco, who played her role brilliantly. The formation to the side of the bar just worked. After the shoot wrapped, one of the locals, Donny Greco, brought out his music box and we all sang Frank Sinatra and drank Italian white for an hour. My kind of town, Chicago is.
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