June 19, 2013

Goodbye to James Gandolfini.

Dead at 51, of an apparent heart attack.

This is very sad. What a great actor! "The Sopranos" was — must I add perhaps? — the greatest television show of all time, largely because of him.

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary.
James Joseph Gandolfini Jr. was born in Westwood, N.J., on Sept. 18, 1961. His father was an Italian immigrant who held a number of jobs, including janitor, bricklayer and cement mason. His mother, Santa, was a high school lunch lady....

He had an impressive list of character-acting credits but he was largely unknown to the general public when David Chase cast him in “The Sopranos” in 1999.

“I thought it was a wonderful script,” Mr. Gandolfini told Newsweek in 2001, recalling his audition. “I thought, ‘I can do this.’ But I thought they would hire someone a little more debonair, shall we say. A little more appealing to the eye.”
AND: The show's creator, David Chase, said: "He was a genius... Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, 'You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone."

(I just watched the first episode again. So brilliant!)

196 comments:

Revenant said...

That's a damned shame. Sorry to see him go so early.

MadisonMan said...

Enjoy every day you have.

Titus said...

Tragic, so sad.

He was amazing.

Rob said...

What a shame. I wonder if the lights went out for him in an instant, the same way they did for Tony Soprano in the last episode.

Michael said...

Carpe Diem.

Michael K said...

His brother is a priest. I met him on an NRO cruise. He teaches a course in entrepreneurship.

Revenant said...

Anyone see the "Wartorn" documentary he did? It sounds interesting.

Astro said...

Go to black...

Capt. Schmoe said...

Whaddaya gonna do?

jr565 said...

It wasnt the best show of all time, certainly not as time went on. But it was a great show.
And he was great in it, and other things he was in as well.

He'll be missed.

jr565 said...

Don't Stop Believing...
Fade....

Roger J. said...

Never saw the sopranos, and it was perhaps it was the greatest show of all time (hyperbole, professor?)

But to the larger point, IMO: life can be regrettably short. Condolences to Mr G's family.

john said...

I had kept a bit of hope that HBO would film a reprise, a Soprano reunion tour. Oh well, not to be.

James, you will be missed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And we lost Larry Flynn today at an even younger age!

Cedarford said...

Before the Sopranos, he was a character actor with an ability to make audiences remember his presence , in 3 minutes or a few scattered scenes - more than the stars of the flick.
He created one of the most complex, well-acted characters in TV history with Tony Soprano..which itself stands as one of the best series ever. While Gandolfini had excellent ensemble help, no mistaking it..it was a show that rested on his big paisan shoulders.

He also had a big heart. After 9/11 he took to riding his bicycle to fire houses to do some improv and boost the spirits of the men. Same with his multiple USO trips.

He will be missed. Greatly. The tributes are pouring in from those that worked with him or knew him in other ways over the years.

The best thing to come out of NJ since fellow local boy Bruce Springsteen.

edutcher said...

Excellent character actor.

Ann Althouse said...

"The Sopranos" was — must I add perhaps? — the greatest television show of all time, largely because of him.

No, not even close.

Jay said...

So to recount today there's Vince Flynn, Slim Whitman, Dave Jennings and now James Gandolfini, dying.


Sad.

Rest in peace

Petunia said...

I think the Sopranos was quite over-rated. Fifty-one is too young to die.

ndspinelli said...

The Sopranos appealed to the masses. But, dagos who grew up in second generation east coast families as I did got little tidbits, words, phrases, gestures, that only we could get. There was a post here recently that had The Sopranos the best written tv show of all time, well deserved. The best scenes were w/ Tony and the women in his life; mom, wife, daughter, shrink, gumars, etc. particularly his mother.

ricpic said...

Whenever I watched The Sopranos it had the sense of watching real life. Paranoia. That's the only way I can explain it. Like life the show was shot through with paranoia. And Gandolfini was masterful at conveying that constant wariness. Tony Soprano has moments of forgetfulness when he lets down his guard but the tension returns and is persistent. What a sustained performance! A great actor has left us.

ndspinelli said...

If you saw Gandolfini in Zero Dark Thirty he had ballooned up to 300lbs.

viator said...

Perhaps "The Wire" may have been the greatest TV series of all time but "Brideshead Revisited" with Jeremy Irons and wonderful cast might be in the running.

ndspinelli said...

While I agree Gandolfini was the cornerstone, Nancy Marchand[who has a son who is a Madison attorney] was perfect, as was Dominic Chianese. Uncle June had the mannerisms, phrases, cadence, of so many male members of my family. It was spooky. Tony's sister was a drag on the show. Lorraine Bracco was superb as was Carmela and Johnny Sac. Nobody was a better cig smoker in the movies or tv than Johnny Sac, that includes Bogie.

edutcher said...

ndspinelli said...

The Sopranos appealed to the masses.

No, it was for the Gray Lady crowd.

There was a post here recently that had The Sopranos the best written tv show of all time, well deserved.

Again, hardly. Every other word was the F-bomb.

Not exactly scintillating dialogue.

Methadras said...

What? NOESSSSSS!!! OMG, this is awful. What a great actor he was. Dammit, hate to see you go so early Jimmy. RIP.

ndspinelli said...

David Chase did a superb job writing strong female characters to attract a large female audience. This show had every chance of being a "guys show", but it wasn't..a tribute to the wisdom and talent of David Chase.

ndspinelli said...

edutcher, you are dumber than dirt and more prudish than the Church Lady. Now go watch the Waltons and maybe the blonde will give you a hand job before bedtime.

ndspinelli said...

With a rubber glove, of course.

ndspinelli said...

ricpic, Great observation about the paranoia. Were you put off the language like The Church Lady..err edutcher.

ndspinelli said...

edutcher's favorite tv show was My Mother The Car. Very good morals and language.

Smilin' Jack said...

This is very sad. What a great actor! "The Sopranos" was — must I add perhaps? — the greatest television show of all time, largely because of him.

Certainly the best of its time, and still in the top five. And he made the show. RIP.

gspencer said...

Died in Italy.
Played a mob boss.
51 is pretty young.
Perhaps Don Ciccio wasn't really killed by Vito Andolini.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm,

El Pollo Raylan said...

Chirbit: nd spinelli's voice mail recording

Michael Haz said...

And we lost Larry Flynn today at an even younger age!

Mitch Rapp asked me to point out that his controller's name is Vince Flynn.

Jeff Teal said...

Man We lose so many great ones so young.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I may be the only commenter here who has never seen an episode of The Sopranos

El Pollo Raylan said...

@roger j: I didn't see your comment. High five!

MadisonMan said...

I have also never seen a Sopranos episode.

edutcher said...

ndspinelli said...

edutcher, you are dumber than dirt and more prudish than the Church Lady. Now go watch the Waltons and maybe the blonde will give you a hand job before bedtime.

Gee, nd, you sound just like the She Devil of the SS.

Are you leading a double life?

edutcher said...

PS Poor nd. He can't cope when somebody doesn't want to play his games.

I think Adolf had the same problem.

ricpic said...

Hey spinelli, you don't lay off dutch I'm gonna haveta 'range a sitdown. You want that? A sitdown? At this delicate moment in the family's history? OH!







I don't know what that means but it sounds authentic, which is all that counts. ;^)

Tom said...

Great actor! Sopranos was certainly one of the best shows ever and my personal favorite. I remember seeing him play Virgel in True Romance and he was awesome. Well, he had heart and it was his heart that gave out. RIP

Tom said...

'Ey Tone

ndspinelli said...

edutcher, It's always disheartening to bust your balls because you're soooo fucking lame.

Drago said...

Titus: "He was amazing."

Amazing?

He was a good actor. I enjoyed him in a number of roles, particularly "Get Shorty" and he struck me as a basically decent guy who did have some problems with some of the roles he played and their potentially negative impacts.

But "amazing"?

Uh, not really.

Drago said...

Titus: "He was amazing."

Amazing?

He was a good actor. I enjoyed him in a number of roles, particularly "Get Shorty" and he struck me as a basically decent guy who did have some problems with some of the roles he played and their potentially negative impacts.

But "amazing"?

Uh, not really.

ndspinelli said...

El Pollo, I had a pasta last weekend in The Twin Cities I had never had before, stringozzi. It's spaghetti shaped but tubular...dude.

ndspinelli said...

Surfers from the 70's love it.

edutcher said...

ndspinelli said...

edutcher, It's always disheartening to bust your balls because you're soooo fucking lame.

Like that just was?

Wow!! What a comeback.

El Pollo Raylan said...

@Nick: Stringozzi looks like shoelaces. The stuff you had was hollow? It sound more like uncut macaroni.

Ben said...

Don't forget Sopranos was also one of the first (or simply first) premium cable shows to go mainstream and opening the door for many other successful shows like Game of Thrones, Dexter, etc. It ushered in an era of great TV to rival the reality shows of the broadcast channels.

He doesn't get all the credit but he was a major part of that.

Ann Althouse said...

I just rewatched episode 1. Amazing, the complexity, the characters, the concision...

Lem said...

It was an excellent show and Gandolfini was very good in it.

It was a Monday lunch hour regular feature of conversation for us. We had an Italian heritage Jersey guy, R. Aiello, who delighted in decoding things he saw, little gestures. And a lot of things he would predict came true.

I loved the show. All the actors complemented each other very nicely. With the exception of most of the scenes with the psychiatrist, the show on its worst days, was still orders of magnitude above anything I've ever seen.

R.I.P

creeley23 said...

Gandolfini was a damn strong actor who made The Sopranos, which also had incredible scripts and an excellent cast.

The greatest anything is almost always an impossible call, but The Sopranos is up there in the top three or so, depending.

BTW -- here's an astonishingly persuasive and thorough explanation of the final episode of The Sopranos, which leaves no doubt what Chase had in mind and what a great writer Chase is.

Baron Zemo said...

James Gandolfini was a very good character actor who was best at playing heavies. He had a beefy presence and acted a lot with his bulk in the vein of Brian Dennehy or Brian Keith.

The role of Tony Soprano was originally slated to go to Anthony LaPaglia who would have added a whole different dimension to the role.

He died much too young and he will be missed.

Oh and the Sopranos is not even close to the best show ever on television.

Ann Althouse said...

Never begin a sentence with "oh and."

That's weak.

El Pollo Raylan said...

@creeley23: No offense, but that scene you linked? I watched it. He perfectly played the kind of guy who has a heart attack at 51.

Pedro Mendizabal said...

RIP Mr G.

Titus said...

CNN keeps showing a picture of him hugging Jane Fonda.

Titus said...

My fave in Sopranos was Carmela though.

I fricking loved everything about Carmela.

Gandolfini played a convincing homosexual in a movie too-can't remember the name.

bagoh20 said...

I think it was one of the greatest TV shows ever, because I really enjoyed it deep down in "a wow that was great episode" kind of way nearly every week.

After dropping HBO because I'm a cheap ass, it was the only thing I really missed. I think a good test of the quality of the show is that if there was a new season with Gandolfini this year, it would be a huge hit again. I don't know many other show that could do that today, if any.

Tom said...

@titus, it was Winston in the Mexican with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Decent flick

creeley23 said...

@creeley23: No offense, but that scene you linked? I watched it. He perfectly played the kind of guy who has a heart attack at 51.

El Pollo: No offense, but you missed the entire point of my comment. Read all four pages of the blog in which the blogger shows how tightly scripted the final episode is and how it links to the whole arc of The Sopranos and much else besides.

It's a long read, so it won't be worth it if you're not interested, but that is what I'm pointing at, not the youtube at the top.

paul said...

51 is damn young to die of a heart attack. People focus on the weight, but other risk factors are more important. Given his wealth, I'm sure he had plenty of excellent checkups and was being monitored by excellent doctors if he had any conditions.

Wonder if he smoked? That's a risk multiplier.

creeley23 said...

I used to wonder what happened to the American Novel, which is barely worth bothering with now, but I can see that the best writers today are writing for television and making a pretty decent living thereby.

William said...

It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies. All the Italian actors, writers, and directors do their best work in this genre. There's something about gangsters that they find empowering and cathartic. Gandolfini was good in some of his other roles, but as Tony Soprano he was mesmerizing. He died too young, but in Tony Soprano he had the role of a lifetime and played it perfectly. Look at the way Al Pacino chews the scenery in various potboilers. Gandolfini went out at the top of his game and never had to parody himself to make a buck.

edutcher said...

Family is a big determinant, but smoking likely didn't do it if he did smoke. It usually takes longer (I speak from a certain experience).

If it was that sudden, there was probably a complicating condition.

creeley23 said...

It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies.

I'd have to agree. In addition to the Godfather films, there's Scorcese's great Goodfellas and Casino with De Niro, Pesci et al.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I used to wonder what happened to the American Novel, which is barely worth bothering with now, but I can see that the best writers today are writing for television and making a pretty decent living thereby.

Agree and this is why the Golden Globe Awards are becoming a better watch than the Oscars.

Baron Zemo said...

Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha.

You are one funny lady!

Oh and to quote my favorite character on the Sopranos Feech LaManna "It's a good thing for me that what you think don't uh gotz."

gk1 said...

Sorry to see Gandolfini go. I wanted to see if his career would ever recover from being tied so closely to Tony Soprano. But I have to confess I hated being manipulated every week into caring for these monsters. Who would get whacked, who missed getting whacked? They all should have been whacked!

Lem said...

A lot of times things were not what they appeared to be. That was key to the shows success.

There was always an angle.

I remember when we thought Tony was going to kill Bobby Bacala. They had us on edge for weeks.

We all liked Booby.

city said...

thanks for share........

Lem said...

did I say booby?

Bobby, Bobby!

poppa india said...

a post from JOM about Gandofini I think might be of interest here...
cc:
His mother is from Italy and his family has land there . He also said some real life Mafia guys told him not to wear shorts in the series while having a barbecue with your family. They said a real"Don" would not wear shorts.

William said...

I think the Sopranos was an honest representation of the dynamics in an Italian family. That's what gave it such credibility. But I don't know if it was such an honest representation of gangsters. Gangsters are sick fucks, and it bleeds over to their domestic life. In real life, a guy like Tony would have slapped his wife and kids around a few times.

Browndog said...

Maybe this will wake up producers to acting.

Probably not.

On the whole, the Sopranos cast was the best acting I've seen outside of...classic movies.

rcocean said...

"Oh and the Sopranos is not even close to the best show ever on television."

The best show ever? The Honeymooners.

But maybe if I was wired, I'd think differently.

edutcher said...

William said...

I think the Sopranos was an honest representation of the dynamics in an Italian family.

Italian family?

Mobster family, maybe, but to put all American men of Italian descent in the same shoes as Tony Soprano is like comparing all Scotch-Irish men to Jesse James.

rcocean said...

Oh and the Sopranos is not even close to the best show ever on television.

The best show ever? The Honeymooners.


The original sitcom.

Not too many shows can claim that kind of distinction - the first and, in many ways, the best.

And it never got old, somehow. Ralph Kramden was real in a way Tony Soprano never was.

Sorry, guys.

No tanks said...

Crap. Slim Whitman died...
Now there was a artist.

Browndog said...

I think the Sopranos was an honest representation of the dynamics in an Italian family

I think what you think is horseshit.

Same damn dynamic exists in a Russian, Polish, Mexican, etc. family....mobster wise.

rcocean said...

He had been to rehab several times for cocaine and alcohol abuse, which play havoc on one's organs, and was a cigar smoker.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Same damn dynamic exists in a Russian, Polish, Mexican, etc. family....mobster wise.

Perhaps one day (after they have their writing and directorial Coppola and Scorcese equivalents) we'll all embrace Mexican drug cartel drama. In a family setting of course.

betamax3000 said...

Carroll O'Connor = Archie Bunker.
Ed Asner = Lou Grant.
James Gandolfini = Tony Soprano.

Those Who Remember the First Two Will Be the Ones Who Remember the Third.

Palladian said...

Death fucking sucks.

Pastafarian said...

Some of you people claiming there has been a better tv show than The Sopranos, please enlighten me. Unless you're coming with some sort of weak shit like The Honeymooners or, worse yet, The Wire. Jesus. Don't bother. You might as well have suggested Gilligan's Island.

Maybe Deadwood was in the same league. Gandolfini was as close to perfect in The Sopranos as anyone has ever been at anything.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Was he and his show well liked in Italy or Sicily?

creeley23 said...

...we'll all embrace Mexican drug cartel drama. In a family setting of course.

There was a promising series titled "Kingpin" that came out as competition for The Sopranos. It only lasted six episodes. I would have watched more

Lem said...

I was just mentioning Gandolfini here too... when Althouse asked us to give Chris Christy "advise" for the senate seat vacated by the death of Lautenberg just a few weeks ago.

Lem said... (that mean me)
James Gandolfini... nobody better for the part today.
6/3/13, 10:24 PM

Is that Creepy?

El Pollo Raylan said...

I would never pretend to be an arbiter of what's the best show on TV but I certainly think it's arrogant to tell others what it is without question.

rcocean said...

William Shatner = Captain Kirk
Robert Stack = Elliot Ness
McLean Stevenson = Larry

betamax3000 said...

James Gandolfini was the Fabricated Mafia Equivalent to Farrah Fawcett-Majors.

I am Almost on a Roll.

rcocean said...

Deadwood? You mean the western Soap Opera with 4 letter words.

Randolph Scott would have cleaned up "Deadwood" in a day. And never said anything except "Yep".

Lem said...

Sorry... tonight, my usually poor spelling has taken a turn for the worst.

rcocean said...

BTW, David Hartman WAS Lucas Tanner.

Lem said...

I butchered my governor's name.

bagoh20 said...

It really doesn't matter to me if the show was authentic to gangsters or Italians, or Jersey, it's fiction, not documentary. Nobody is really like Lucy, or Seinfeld or Archie Bunker either. If they were, we wouldn't need fiction. The Sopranos, like any good show, was it's own universe, and it's creating that universe and filling it up that makes great writing, acting and all the rest that goes into a great show. It's the creating something from nothing that is the art. A lot of people did a good job there, and created something special. I didn't even watch that many episodes, but every one left a mark. I still think about Big Pussy's last few minutes every time I get on a boat.

betamax3000 said...

I am Taking Off My Robot Mask for a Moment.

Humor Me. Please.

I See James Gandolfini as What we Would've Hoped John Belushi would've Become, Given the Time.

James Gandolfini as Bluto in Animal House: to My Mind, Easy to Picture.

Belushi as Tony Soprano: For Me -- add Twenty Years minus Unfortunate Death -- as Equal to Picture.

Lem said...

I would never pretend to be an arbiter of what's the best show on TV but I certainly think it's arrogant to tell others what it is without question.

I get around that by saying its my opinion this and that. If I didn't say it, then I'm saying it now.

Capish?

bagoh20 said...

" I still think about Big Pussy's last few minutes every time I get on a boat."

And it always makes me think about friendship, and group identity, and responsibility, and more all wrapped up together in a mess that ends in murder that takes a big chunk of yourself with it.

rcommal said...

[deep down:]

betamax3000 said...

James Gandolfini as Reuben Kincaid would've Made 'The Partridge Family' a Little Less: Actor to Role.

Methadras said...

rcocean said...

Deadwood? You mean the western Soap Opera with 4 letter words.

Randolph Scott would have cleaned up "Deadwood" in a day. And never said anything except "Yep".


Bart: Just give me twenty-four hours to come up with a brilliant idea to save our town. Just twenty-four hours, that's all I ask.

Townspeople: No!

Bart: You'd do it for Randolph Scott.

Townspeople: Randolph Scott...

Townspeople: [singing in the fashion of a church choir] RANDOLPH SCOTT!

Howard Johnson: All right, Sheriff. Twenty-four hours.

betamax3000 said...

Re: I still think about Big Pussy's last few minutes every time I get on a boat."

Lauren Tewes.


Gopher.


Isaac.








Charo.



rcocean said...

"Belushi as Tony Soprano: For Me -- add Twenty Years minus Unfortunate Death -- as Equal to Picture."

Could be. Another massive talent who died too young. He showed some dramatic talent just before his death.

edutcher said...

Pastafarian said...

Some of you people claiming there has been a better tv show than The Sopranos, please enlighten me. Unless you're coming with some sort of weak shit like The Honeymooners or, worse yet, The Wire. Jesus. Don't bother. You might as well have suggested Gilligan's Island.

Maybe Deadwood was in the same league. Gandolfini was as close to perfect in The Sopranos as anyone has ever been at anything.


God, get a grip. I think rc was kidding, but I'll tell you the one season through which I sat, I thought it was boring as Hell.

Every decade we go through this The Greatest Show In The History of TV thing.

MASH, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, and on and on and on.

You like it?

Fine, enjoy yourself, but quit the blustering that it was the Greatest Thing In The History Of Whatever.

This year, it's Game of Thrones or The Borgias or Lena Dunham.

Next year, the chi-chi crowd will move on.

Have fun.

And, yes, I am a lowbrow; I've never gotten into the latest hyped-up soap opera just because it's cool in the eyes of all the "right" people, what ever that means.

Gandolfini's death is waste because he threw his life away on booze and drugs - which will age your heart a lot faster than smoking.

Somebody mentioned Slim Whitman, died at 90. A big hit in England, but never here. Married to the same woman for 65 years and a steady performer who loved his work, apparently.

The only reason we ever heard of him was because of a little shrewd marketing that made his retirement secure.

Well, good for him. His life was less wasted.

His stuff wasn't my dish of oolong, but I'm glad he was rewarded for his life of hard work.

betamax3000 said...

I Am Going to Hammer on My Gandolfini/Belushi Connection. Is there Any Role They Could Not Have Traded and Been Successful?

rcocean said...

Gabe Kaplan = Gabe Kotter

betamax3000 said...

(thank you rcocean)

Lyle said...

Sad news.

I actually think Deadwood was the best HBO series.

William said...

I think the writers and actors put a lot of their own lives and backgrounds into the Sopranos. Along the way they probably knew a few Mafia types, but the Mafia part was a romanticized fantasy. I know there are some exceptions to this rule, but those qualities which make for a successful writer or actor rarely make for a successful gangster....Years ago I knew a girl whose mother was keeping company with a Mafia type. He did the mother a few favors. Got her into Mitchell-Lama housing. The downside was that he would occasionally fly off the handle and slap the mother around for nothing. The girl and her brother both witnessed this growing up. They both had a lot of problems that would not make for an entertaining Sopranos episode.

rcocean said...

Could Gandolfini handle a Samurai Sword?

betamax3000 said...

Gabe Kaplan could've Played Any Mafioso with Conviction: Reference World Series of Poker and then Add Conversation with Ducks.

Lem said...

I Am Going to Hammer on My Gandolfini/Belushi Connection.

I don't see it... but then again I'm also near sighted.

betamax3000 said...

Immigrant James Gandolfini Robot says:

I Make Strippers Pregnant: it is What I Do.

bagoh20 said...

Somebody spilled the beans. First rule of chi-chi crowd is don't tell edutcher about chi-chi crowd.

Somebody needs whacked!

betamax3000 said...

Re: Somebody needs whacked!

As Pat Morita Wisely Said:

Wax On, Whacks Off.

rcommal said...

He who is at present the emblem and symbol here: edutcher.

betamax3000 said...

Neighbors (1981):

Earl Keese: She dropped the towel.

Vic: Did she drop it, or did you psychically will it to fall?

Could Gandolfini do the Double-Take as Well as Belushi?

betamax3000 said...

It Seems Disrespectful To Bring up Taylor Swift's Pubic Hair.

Mark said...

Sorry, the best TV ever was the first season of "Homicide: Life on the Streets".

betamax3000 said...

Will we Forget Gandolfini as Quickly and as Thoroughly as We Did John Candy?

Is the Difference Memorability or the Comedy/Drama Unbalance?

Yes, I am substituting Candy for Belushi. Understood.



Mark said...

And that was stated with no intention of disrespect for Gandolfini. He was a great actor. When you start talking about best shows though you should step back and think about it.

Mark said...

betamax3000, you are nekulturny.

betamax3000 said...

RE: "betamax3000, you are nekulturny. "

Looked it Up. Disagree.

Cedarford said...

creeley23 said...
It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies.

I'd have to agree. In addition to the Godfather films, there's Scorcese's great Goodfellas and Casino with De Niro, Pesci et al.

=================
Only if you miss the Italian influence on cuisine, music, and just about every great building or significant monument made of stone until the blacks hired Chinese to build the Chung King monument.

Fashion? Industrial design? While you have French haute coutre and faggot fashionistas in NYC serving niches...and the Scandanavian designs..most of the clothes, shoes, everyday household objects, cars..are examples of Italian inspiration and creativity.

Mark said...

Of course you would. The uncouth always think they are avante garde, even if they don't know the term.

Chip Ahoy said...

Isn't the whole thing based on a garbage collecting racket?

I think it is. Oh and I watched the clip that @creeley23 linked without reading the whole thing or absorbing the whole point, but my impression while watching the scene, apart from thinking, "I could shoot this with my 14-24mm," and it is a small impression so there is no argument here about Soprano worthiness, it appears the psychiatrist by listening to Tony's jeremiad is experiencing a sudden profound insight, an epiphany, and she says, "I'm really glad we're having this discussion. And she's all thoughtful and pensive and everything as if what Tony is saying about passing on his shit genes is really hitting home. At that point Tony is delivering the therapy and she is receiving it therefore she should pay Tony for the session.

Oh and my favorite part of her character that I saw was the episode when she realized she was interviewing the vampire and her life was in grave danger immediately. Oh wait, that was Interview with a Vampire." It was still my favorite part.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "aid...
It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies."


Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "The uncouth always think they are avante garde, even if they don't know the term."

I know the Font.

Mark said...

Which really pinpoints you to the Upper East Side or Williamsburg.

Who needs the NSA?

betamax3000 said...

RE: "Which really pinpoints you to the Upper East Side or Williamsburg.

Who needs the NSA?"

Other Side of the Country. In other Words, as Accurate as the NSA.

What Nerve of Yours Did I Hit?

Mark said...

Educated enough to know the font. Not educated enough to get the reference. Too flip to care even if it tickled a memory. Totally smug.

If I knew which side of the bridge you were on I could make a good guess about where you get your coffee in the morning.

rcommal said...

Silly, silly you are, who are not familiar with an Alabama 3 vid. It's as subtle as a hammer in its reference to a famous depiction.

Is there a point system, or something, for not paying attention? And how long has that been going on, anyway: just wondering.

Mark said...

I don't think so, beta.

Now who did I taunt with the "touched a nerve" thing? So many sock puppets. I need to keep a database, just for inside baseball stuff like this.

I'm thinking it was garage, but I'm not sure right now.

wyo sis said...

I've never seen an episode of the Sopranos, so there are at least 3 of us.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "Not educated enough to get the reference."

I Missed what Reference You are referring to (Homicide show?). I think Ann hates the back-and-forth Chush' sobach'ya but I would Like to Know, So I can Apologize for Missing the Point in Question.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Unbelievable.

Mark said...

Ah, it was Ritmo. Couldn't not change costumes, could you?

You are the Lady Gaga of political trolls.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Haha... Baron also likes Feech. Here's my favorite Feech scenes... (Well, Pauly scenes, really)... The "Lawn Wars" montages.

Rhythm and Balls said...

What the fuck is wrong with you, Mark? It takes a real low-life creep to throw out a cheap political shot at someone merely offering condolences.

I knew showing up on this narcissist's site at this time would be a mistake... somehow.

betamax3000 said...

For the Record: I am Not Ritmo (no Disrespect to Ritmo -- he Stands on His Words, Not Mine).

Seriously: what is the Reference that I missed? I do Not Pretend to an Education that Others May Have: my attempts at Brain Surgery Have Left Many Counterclockwise...

Mark said...

An actor died. A lot of people thought he was great. They mourn his loss.

There's no good reason to piss on his grave.

That's the point.

If you still feel the need to take a piss on it, then you really are nekulturny. Keep living the trash life. It obviously works for you.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Mark reminds me of the episode when the FBI shows up at the funeral.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh I see. There was a game taking place for the last few dozen comments, upon which real life - and some reactions to it - was so rude as to intrude. Ok. Keep playing the paranoia and guessing games, guys. I regret the dishonor of bringing a few reminiscent thoughts to people obviously incapable of enjoying them.

Methadras said...

betamax3000 said...

Immigrant James Gandolfini Robot says:

I Make Strippers Pregnant: it is What I Do.


That was from Killing Them Softly wasn't it?

Mark said...

Couldn't stand that I might not remember whose nerve I'd hit.

88 Orchard.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Later, Barbarians. Off to enjoy some (relative) civility via a few old Sopranos episode clips.

Adios.

rcommal said...

To wyo sis, for example: I have no problem at all with anyone who never saw the show, and nor do I think that there's anything wrong about not having seen that show, not having any interest in seeing that show, or even after having sampled the show, not wanting to watch the rest of it.

What I do have a problem with on a daily basis is the bullshit sprayed and spewed here--quite ironically, LOL!--much as Gandolfini's Tony Soprano character did, as a matter of course in everyday life.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "An actor died. A lot of people thought he was great. They mourn his loss.

There's no good reason to piss on his grave."

Thank you for Explaining.

I Am Saddened for the Mourning His Family and Friends will go Through -- not in the Upcoming Days, But throughout the Upcoming Years. The Loss Never Goes Away.

What I have Heard today (rumors spoken from Internet rumors) is Drugs, Cigarettes etc: Somehow we Lessen the Loss By Attributing It To Something We Think is Socially Unforgivable. I remember Belushi dying and the Same Responses akin to "He Had It Coming" rather than the Loss. That is the Connection I was Making: Talent that Will be Lost to Rumor. The Racetrack on Where we Measure Talent. The Hill We All Fall Down, but Usually With No One Watching.



betamax3000 said...

Re: "Silly, silly you are, who are not familiar with an Alabama 3 vid. It's as subtle as a hammer in its reference to a famous depiction.

Is there a point system, or something, for not paying attention? And how long has that been going on, anyway: just wondering."

Had HBO for the First Season. Then Quit My Job: no HBO. Don't Do Netflix, etc etc -- TV Series Don't Grab My Time as Much as when I Was Younger. End up Reading Non-Fiction about the Soviet Union, but when those Authors Die No One Notices, Much Less Gives a Damn.

Mark said...

You may not credit this, but I've worked with old school mobsters.

They'd not look kindly on mocking the dead, even if they'd made the dead dead.

I'm out of NYC now. No contacts and glad of it. Even the NSA wouldn't have anything to find other than "likes" of certain family pictures.

But being an asshole really isn't a long-term positive.

Mark said...

So you were reading Soviet Union non-fiction and had to look up a common insult?

Get your lies straight within-thread, at least.

betamax3000 said...

The common insult is actually from one of the Russians I work with. Back in California I learned insults from Mexican Co-Workers. Diversity.

betamax3000 said...

People who Had Unnoticed Obituaries Today in Wisconsin (random clippings):

Winston Van Horne guided UWM department of Africology

Winston Van Horne, shown with student Sherri Cook in 1988, taught African-American history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Winston Van Horne guided the department of Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and eventually obtained approval for a doctoral program. He died at 69.


In running Kenosha store, Franz Bidinger showed his love of music
inger’s love of music extended way beyond his work at Bidinger’s Music House in Kenosha. He died at age 99.


Frank Ruebl was afitness runner into his 90s
Ruebl started running relatively late in life, and kept it up into his 90s — putting in 6 miles the day before he died.


Milwaukee County Zoo’s big cats became John’s dream job:
Christopher John, who died Friday of brain cancer at the Zilber Family Hospice in Wauwatosa, worked for many years in his dream job: looking after the big cats at the Milwaukee County Zoo. He was 53.


I respect the Connection to an Actor, and Wish His Family the Same Prayers as those of the Above.

Mark said...

You have lost continuity. Congratulations on disgracing yourself.

Mark said...

88 Grand. Could be anyone with an i-device and shitty clothes that could have cost >1000 bucks.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "You have lost continuity. Congratulations on disgracing yourself."

Explain. I tried to articulate my perspective, but would like to know where I Jumped the Gap.

rcocean said...

Which brings up the point. Why do we care so much about these Show Biz Folk?

Yes, Serena can hit a tennis ball very well, and James G. was very good at pretending to be someone else and making faces on cue, but really so what? I don't care what Serena thinks. And I didn't know James G. He certainly seemed like a nice guy, based on what I knew, but what did I really know?

And the whole, silly, "don't speak ill of the dead" - as if anyone in the G. Family cares what a bunch of strangers say on some website.

Palladian said...

Watch the opening bit of the first episode of the final season and tell me that The Sopranos wasn't brilliant.

creeley23 said...

William: It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies.

Cedarford: Only if you miss the Italian influence on cuisine, music, and just about every great building or significant monument made of stone until the blacks hired Chinese to build the Chung King monument.


Cedarford: I stand by my agreement with William.

I don't consider cuisine on the same level as art and I'm not much interested in stone buildings. Are you talking about techniques developed centuries ago?

Italian music -- Sinatra? Martin? Opera?

I look around at current American music and don't notice much, if any, Italian influence aside from the fact singers sing for microphones today, which Sinatra was one of the first to exploit fully.

But Italian gangster movies -- that's a big chunk, for better or worse, of American culture and indisputably Italian.

Of course this is not an argument that can be settled, anymore than the claim that The Sopranos is the greatest TV show.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "Watch the opening bit of the first episode of the final season and tell me that The Sopranos wasn't brilliant."

I haven't seen it since it was first televised. I remember it being enigmatic, but I would think I would remember brilliance better.

betamax3000 said...

For what it is Worth: when I think of James Gandolfini I remember his role in "True Romance."

Dennis Hopper.
Christopher Walken.
Gary Oldman.
Chris Penn.

All at the Top of their Game.

I would even include Brad Pitt in that Category.

betamax3000 said...

88 Grand:

The first front-wheel drive W-body Grand Prix coupes were built in mid 1987, and released later that year for the 1988 model year. This generation Grand Prix was built in Kansas City, Kansas. The Grand Prix was introduced as base, LE and SE coupes.

creeley23 said...

It's silly in some ways and unhealthy in others, but screen actors and their vehicles have become the main common ground Americans share these days.

What else compares?

betamax3000 said...

Re: It's silly in some ways and unhealthy in others, but screen actors and their vehicles have become the main common ground Americans share these days.

What else compares?"

Sports Teams are the Only Thing that First Jumps to Mind.

What about Those Mets?

creeley23 said...

Sports? Yeah, they're big.

But there are a large groups of people -- women, geeks, arty types, intellectuals -- who don't bother with sports at all.

How many people don't watch some show or have favorite movies or actors?

betamax3000 said...

Not trying to Kick the Wasp nest, but a Thought Experiment:

If Dick Van Dyke were to have Died today along with Gandolfini who would Have the most Water-Cooler Heat?

Is it Who is Closest in Memory?

Is it Who Made the Most Cultural Impact?

Is it the Greater Number of Those Who Remember the Person that Determines the Cultural Impact?

Can we Care Equally?

Should the Care be Equal?

Is it Gauche to Consider Such Questions?

Are We pretending that We Do Not Consider Such Questions?

If the Deaths were Separated By a Day would we Be Able to Give Our Sympathy More Equally?

Does anyone Remember Franz Bidinger from the Comment Above?

betamax3000 said...

Is Betamax3000 an Asshole?

betamax3000 said...

Please don't Answer the Last Question: it was Rhetorical.

Palladian said...

How many people don't watch some show or have favorite movies or actors?

It's art. Art gives us a way to talk and think about ourselves; existence. It's always been that way. The medium changes all the time, but the subject remains the same. The Odyssey, The Sopranos, the same things.

wyo sis said...

betamax
I answered, but quietly, to myself. I whispered so the cat wouldn't hear either.

creeley23 said...

Palladian: Yep.

But there have been times when Americans also shared religion as much as art. Perhaps patriotism too.

edutcher said...

rcommal said...

What I do have a problem with on a daily basis is the bullshit sprayed and spewed here--quite ironically, LOL!--much as Gandolfini's Tony Soprano character did, as a matter of course in everyday life.

And commal ("He who is at present the emblem and symbol here: edutcher.") is a prime purveyor.

Palladian said...

Watch the opening bit of the first episode of the final season and tell me that The Sopranos wasn't brilliant.

I did.

It wasn't.

If you think so, fine, but let it end there.

Lem said...

The first time I recall seeing Gandolfini was in Get Shorty (1995).

From watching him on that role I' never guess he could later become Tony Soprano.

A credit to his talent.

Ann Althouse said...

I think my original statement stands. No need for the "perhaps." If anyone wanted to make the argument that there was a better show, they could have. I don't see other shows even named, outside of "The Honeymooners." I love "The Honeymooners," but the individual stories are simple and mostly silly. A great set of 4 characters, but these characters are simple and they don't change over the course of the series and there are no new characters causing any complexity.

I just watched the first episode again, and it was astounding, the amount of detail and the subtleties of story.

sydney said...

It's a curious thing, but the greatest contribution of Italian Americans to our culture might very well be gangster movies.

Yes, and one of the greatest things about the Sopranos, IMHO, is that it never fell prey to the glamour of evil that other gangster movies do. It portrayed the mob for what it is - a bunch of people with no scruples, who value bling over absolutely everything else - including family and friends.

Mitch H. said...

Some of you people claiming there has been a better tv show than The Sopranos, please enlighten me.

I've never gotten around to watching the Wire, but the Shield was more consistently great than the Sopranos, which had a sublime first season, and then was on a... trajectory. Like a ballistic missile, where all the motive force was expended in the first fifteen seconds of flight. I stopped watching partway through the sixth season, long after it had peaked.

Best show of 1999? Oh, definitely, if only because Buffy the Vampire Slayer had started its own downward arc in that year. But Breaking Bad, today, is a hell of a lot better. Mad Men has been more consistently well-written.

I think that The Sopranos is considered "the best" by people who have gotten the idea that TV can replace "the Great American Novel", which is a fundimental misunderstanding of medium and the requirements of medium. "The Great American Novel" was always a misunderstanding of the novel as a novel anyways - by people who wanted a novel to be a unitary work of art like a cathedral or a painting or a symphony, a false cultural equivalency one to one to one. That isn't the purpose of novels, they exist, like TV, for the primary purpose of entertainment, and secondarily as art. But TV... TV's primary purpose is much stronger, and art only comes fourth or fifth, maybe sixth. Likewise, TV has *very rigid* constraints, as if a novel could only be 350 manuscript pages long, or 200,000 words in length. TV is more as if there was a serious cultural movement composed of series of novelettes, each rigidly released on a certain schedule, with required beats and pools of narrative elements.

You can get as avante-garde as you want with TV series, but in order to work in the context of the medium, they have to be delivered in 4x or 2x minute blocks, acted by a certain small pool of "starring" actors and a larger pool of guest-star actors, and so forth. Showrunners like Whedon tried their best to surprise and astonish within the hard three walls of the TV medium, but there are still the hard three walls.

As for Gandolfini, it is terrible. You'd think that all that high-end entertainment-industry health care would have been able to drag him further towards the finish line than 51. But then, he never quite broke into the top-tier of the Hollywood acting caste system, and my understanding is that it increasingly sucks to be stuck in the the lower castes.

Which brings up the point. Why do we care so much about these Show Biz Folk?

They live in our living rooms, if only through the magic of illusion and tribal-centric neurological wiring?

It's art. Art gives us a way to talk and think about ourselves; existence. It's always been that way. The medium changes all the time, but the subject remains the same. The Odyssey, The Sopranos, the same things.

That's the thing, I don't think this reaction is about Art, it's about Tribe, or at least, sociobiological pseudo-community. This is why TV will never deliver The Great American Novel: it feeds too directly into the "person in my clan" centers of our monkey-brains.

bagoh20 said...

The show was excellent art, and it's wonderful to see someone like James Gandolfini have great success. He seems to have been an unusually fine and generous man, and so this was definately too soon, but at least he got a nice big slice of this world, made a mark in the short time he had, and gave a lot back. You can't ask for much more than that no matter how long you get. Thanks Jim.

bagoh20 said...

Gee Mitch, I somehow disagree with almost everything you wrote there, but that's cool.

Just for example:"... feeds too directly into the "person in my clan" centers of our monkey-brains.

I didn't directly relate to any Sopranos characters at all like that. They were nothing like me or people I know, but the basic humanity showed through the strange world they lived in. It was just extremely well done.

Mad Men? Really? The show about stuff that might happen, but never does. It's like sitting at a bar all night hoping to get lucky, then at the end of the night you just go home to sleep. There was never a pay off in that show, because they weren't good enough to close the deal - it seemed all just tease, like a long movie trailer.

Tibore said...

My God, too young. 51 ain't no spring chicken, but it's not the age where you expect someone to pass away unless there was something wrong healthwise to begin with.

"If anyone wanted to make the argument that there was a better show, they could have. I don't see other shows even named, outside of "The Honeymooners.""

I do have to say that I don't know how to judge The Sopranos because I've never watched it. That said, if we're talking about measuring sticks in TV history, I think it's damn hard to beat Twilight Zone.

Then again, is that really comparable? Twilight Zone was a very different brand of fiction from most of what appeared on TV since then. What comes close? X-Files is the only one I can think of, and even that, as much as I loved it, wasn't as consistently On Top Of Its Game as TZ.

But that's a digression... could shows of such different genres really be comparable? If the answer's "Yes", then I submit that Twilight Zone has got to be one of the measuring sticks.

Thorley Winston said...

I think at the time the Sopranos was one of the best shows on television and its success paved the way for shows like The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men and Breaking Bad which eclipsed it in quality.

Steve Koch said...

I first remembered him in "True Romance" (one of my favorite movies). "You got a lotta heart, kid". He had a great ability to make bad guys human.

annk said...

Creely23, thanks for posting that link. I recently had tried to find it without luck.

The Sopranos and the black and white episodes of The Andy Griffith Show were the best TV shows ever in terms of brilliant writing and perfect casting, IMHO.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

I think my original statement stands. No need for the "perhaps." If anyone wanted to make the argument that there was a better show, they could have. I don't see other shows even named, outside of "The Honeymooners." I love "The Honeymooners," but the individual stories are simple and mostly silly. A great set of 4 characters, but these characters are simple and they don't change over the course of the series and there are no new characters causing any complexity.

I don't think so.

Most of the effort was in discussing the relative merits of The Sopranos (can't believe how insecure some people are).

That doesn't mean other shows weren't better, that's not the way the debate went.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The superlatives have all run their course. I want to remember now without praise. In the end, the last thing Jim Gandolfini wanted to be was an idol, because he believed all idols were hollow. Even when we had no faith in him, he continued to have faith in Us: "There will never be another one like you/There will never be another one who can do the things you do..."

creeley23 said...

I resist making absolute judgments about the *greatest* this or that when it comes to art because when works get far enough up there they become categories unto themselves.

How do you compare The Honeymooners, The Twilight Zone and The Sopranos? They were all extraordinarily well-written, well-acted shows that achieved a kind of perfection, broke new ground and set high standards.

For me, Breaking Bad exceeds The Sopranos in terms of intricate, riveting television. Of course, there would have been no Breaking Bad without The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad is not as grand a canvas.

In The Sopranos I got tired of the cliched mob stuff, Carmela's dithering, Dr. Melfi's therapy sessions which became more and more interminable as the series wore on, and David Chase's pushing-the-envelope pretensions like the parallel dream world when Tony was in a coma or the Burroughs' narration in the link Palladian posted.

That said, The Sopranos was simply brilliant. I have to go to Joyce's Ulysses and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina to find works as ambitious, crafted, layered, and deeply human.

Smilin' Jack said...

I think my original statement stands. No need for the "perhaps." If anyone wanted to make the argument that there was a better show, they could have. I don't see other shows even named...I just watched the first episode again, and it was astounding, the amount of detail and the subtleties of story.

Well, that hokey scene in the first episode where Tony chases a guy through a shopping center in his car almost put me off the series. No high-ranking mobster would do that, or get away with it if he did.

'The Sopranos' paved the way for quality TV dramas such as 'The Shield', 'Breaking Bad', 'Mad Men', and (hopefully) more to come. Which is "greatest of all time" is a just matter of taste.

William said...

I saw some excerpts on TV this morning. I remembered the show presenting him as a conscientious parent and as considerate in his interactions with his wife. Hardly. But that's the way I remembered the show. Gandoglfini, like Carroll O'Connor, made his character seem like a better family man than was perhaps warranted. He had a patriarchal quality that transcended the godfather aspects of his role.,

William said...

I won't be around long enough to see posterity, but the only tv shows that have held the interest of succeeding generations are I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. I don't think anyone, even at the time, considered them the best shows of their era, but they're the ones that made the posterity cut.........The Petrified Forest was considered a terrific gangster movie in its time, but no sane person would nowadays prefer it to a Rogers/Astaire flick.

LoafingOaf said...

I've never watched a full episode of The Sopranos. I'll probably end up watching the whole thing someday. But if we're talking about novels for television, Babylon 5 was my fave despite its many flaws.

Heck if I know what the greatest show of all time is. Seinfeld is my fave.

Thorley Winston said...

There was a promising series titled "Kingpin" that came out as competition for The Sopranos. It only lasted six episodes. I would have watched more.

I bought it on DVD and watched it (five bucks was cheap for a miniseries). It seemed a little more “Godfather” than “Sopranos” as I recall though.


Alex said...

Actually the greatest TV show of all time was a one-season show from 1976 called "Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann".

Baron Zemo said...

Oh and "The Soprano's" barely makes the top ten of best TV programs.

I don't think it is a good idea to listen to someone who professes to not watch TV.

rcommal said...

Many hands: Meet elephant.

Or should that be: Elephant, meet many hands?

In any case.

--

What's the "emoticon" for the middle finger these days, anyway? I wanna know.

rcommal said...

oh and "the only tv shows that have held the interest of succeeding generations are I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners" is a demonstrably untrue statement of fact. Is it not?