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.
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 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.
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 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.