10 facts* about Italian gangsters

Gomorrah will make you think. It re-imagines and reexamines the gangster movie as we know it.

Gomorrah will make you think. It re-imagines and reexamines the gangster movie as we know it. The Italian-made film, which explores the festering underbelly of the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples, Italy opens this Friday at Cinema 21.

In honor of this fact, the Vanguard thought it wise to explore the cinematic “truths” of Italian gangster movies, all of which Gomorrah sagely turns on their heads.

Ten things I learned from watching gangster movies that probably aren’t true

1. Watch for the munchkin with a knife!
Eighty percent of gangsters look like Joe Pesci and are best described as “stabby.” Also, never insult their mothers, as long brooding oedipal complexes quickly lead to a knife in the gullet.

2. That’s a good-a meat-a-ball!
If you can get over their sociopathic embellishments, most Italian gangsters in the movies are damn fine cooks. That’s because, like a runner before a marathon, it’s a good idea to carbo-load before shooting someone in the face with a shotgun. Mmmmm … pasta … and brains on the wall.

3. They always choose the wrong woman
If a woman is OK with murder, bloodshed and a cheating husband, she’s probably insane. She’ll also make a good wife, at least for someone in the mafia. Trying to get a “normal” spouse doesn’t really work for gangsters, and hiding your line of work isn’t exactly possible when you sometimes cozy up to a horse’s decapitated head.

4. Cocaine is a helluva drug

Watch out for those paranoia demons brought on by heavy drug use, though chances are that a gangster’s brother really is plotting against him.

5. Catholicism is a helluva religion

If normal Catholics are wracked with guilt, just imagine what a machine-gun-totting sociopath must feel. If God is all-forgiving, why does he have to make sinning so easy? (Hat tip to O.G. Nietzsche, he ordered that God get whacked.)

6. Ostentatious displays of wealth are the new classy

What makes a pinstriped suit and fedora look better? If you answered gold chains and furs, you’re thinking like a movie gangster. Also, silver- and gold-plated guns communicate wealth on two levels.

7. It’s the taxes that’ll get you
Mob bosses are a greedy bunch, and they often skimp on paying their taxes, which eventually gets them arrested. The key here is not murdering your accountant, even if he is extremely annoying.

8. Raspy voices
At least one person in a gangster’s entourage should have the nickname “Whispers.” If this is not the case, pour acid down somebody’s throat.

9. Best friends aren’t to be trusted
Gangsters can’t trust anybody. This is why they have guns.

10. Write memoirs!
Once the inevitable happens—a wife or accountant gets them busted for racketeering or tax evasion—gangsters have a lot of down time. So they write. That way, when their life gets made into a movie, the narrator will have something to read in between stabbing scenes.