Unless you've been living under a rock (or up in Alaska with Viggo Mortensen), there's a good chance you know The Sopranos is widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, television shows of all time. Along with The Wire, it helped usher in the second Golden Age of Television. With all the hype around the show and gripping drama in the show, you may have missed all the fantastic mob movie references on The Sopranos.
Given the relatively straight-faced nature of The Sopranos, chances are you don't watch the show with a mind to referential moments. Tarantino it ain't. Yet gangster movie references on The Sopranos abound, many of them offering sneaky homage to the beloved gangster films that inspired creator David Chase. Gangster movies and The Sopranos have a reciprocal relationship; much as the classics influenced the show, the show has influenced a new generation of filmmakers (and show runners, obviously).
Vote up The Sopranos references to gangster films that make you want to leave the gun and take the cannoli, and include anything you feel was unjustly left out in the comments section below.
Tony's Orange Juice And All Those Oranges In The Godfather
Before a nearly deadly attempt on Tony’s life in Season 1 Episode 12 of The Sopranos, he goes to a street market and buys a bottle of Tropicana orange juice. This is an updated reference to the orange motif in The Godfather trilogy. Oranges are prevalent throughout the trilogy, and always portend violence, doom, or danger. Remember when Vito Corleone is assassinated holding a basket of oranges? Or when we first meet Sal, who betrays Michael, holding an orange? That's just the tip of the iceberg.
In the first season of The Sopranos, Paulie Gualtieri honks his car horn to get Salvatore ‘Big P*ssy’ Bonpensiero’s attention. Fans of The Godfather trilogy may have recognized the sound Paulie’s horn made as the theme song of the series, “Speak Softly, Love.” The score of the first film was nominated for an Academy Award, but later disqualified because a comedic version of the song had been used in a previous film. The score for the second film was nominated for, and won, the Oscar for Best Score, despite containing the same piece.see more on Paulie Gualtieri
Meadow's Coach Gets An Offer He Can't Refuse
When Don Hauser, Meadow's high school soccer coach, reveals in Episode 1 Season 9 that he took a job in Rhode Island, he defends his decision by saying, "What could I do? They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." This is a pointed reference to one of the most famous scenes in The Godfather, and, arguably, one of the most famous lines in film history. The offer might not have been the only reason Hauser took the job. His relationship with Tony and friends was strained, and culminated in Christopher stealing the Hauser family's Golden Retriever.
The Shoe Is On The Other Foot For Michael Imperioli, Of Both The Sopranos And Goodfellas
In Goodfellas, Michael Imperioli plays Spider, a server who accidentally ignores, then later talks back to Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and gets shot on two separate occasions for it. Before shooting, Tommy asks, "What, do you got me on a f*ckin' pay-no-mind list, kid?"
In Season 1 Episode 8 of The Sopranos, Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) is on the other end of the gun, shooting a bakery clerk in the foot for skipping his number in line. Before Christopher pulls the trigger, he asks, "What is it? What is it, do I look like a p*ssy to you?"
The Show Shares Actors With Many Of Its Influences
The Sopranos paid respect to its roots in gangster movies by casting many of the same actors as the films that inspired the show's creative minds. From Lorraine Bracco to Michael Imperioli and Frank Albanese, the show boasts a total of nine actors who were also in Goodfellas. Many actors from The Godfather trilogy also appeared on the show. While crossover of some actors is to be expected, considering the subject matter and supply of Italian-American actors in Hollywood, this was surely no accident.
Strokes Prevent Assassinations In The Sopranos And The Godfather Part III
In The Sopranos and The Godfather, Part II, a murder attempt is thwarted by a stroke. In The Sopranos, Tony plans to pay Livia back for an attempt on his life, but her stroke makes this impossible. In The Godfather, Part II, Hyman Roth is able to live a bit longer thanks to his stroke. The most interesting bit? Hyman Roth's right-hand-man, Johnny Ola, was played by the same actor who would later play Livia's co-conspirator in the attempt on Tony's Life, Dominic Chianese, known to Sopranos fans as Uncle Junior.
A Little Line Taken Straight From Little Caeser
Both Paulie and Uncle Junior say, "Mother of mercy, could this be the end of Rico?" This line is taken straight from old Hollywood gangster classic Little Caesar (1931). The movie was one of the first gangster films ever made, and starred Edward G. Robison, who is referenced in the pilot of The Sopranos (his photo appears on the wall of a butcher's shop).
All Those Tasty Pacino Quotes From Silvio
In the second episode of the show, Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) repeats one of Al Pacino's most memorable lines in The Godfather Part III while admiring himself in a mirror: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
Silvo recites some of Pacino's other lines from the trilogy, including conversations between Pacino and Diane Keaton's characters: "This one time I'll let you ask me about my affairs." The conflict between boss and wife in The Godfather exists throughout The Sopranos as well, as Carmella constantly wanting to ask Tony about his affairs.
Silvo's recitation of these lines, and quoting of gangster films in general throughout The Sopranos, is the show's way of exploring not only its own roots, but the way in which the romanticized media image of mafiosos affects actually mafiosos, making them filtered, meta version of themselves.