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Wise Guys (1986)

Wise Guys (1986)

Chapter 17 Wise Guys (1986)
Brian De Palma's Split-Screen
Douglas Keesey
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the wish-fulfillment fantasy embedded in Wise Guys (1986). As a gangster comedy, Wise Guys is best appreciated as a happy alternative to Scarface (1983), as things that went wrong in that film—and in De Palma's life—now go miraculously right. At the same time it also features what De Palma has described as “the family as a structure involving manipulation and destruction of the individual”—embodied in the relationship of the film's two protagonists, small-time mobsters Harry (Danny DeVito) and Moe (Joe Piscopo), to crime boss Castelo (Dan Hedaya). Though Harry and Moe seek his approval, godfather Anthony Castelo is cold and distant toward them, much as De Palma felt that his own father, Anthony, often behaved toward him and his brothers.

Keywords:   Wise Guys, Scarface, wish fulfillment, Anthony De Palma, family relationships, gangster comedy, gangster films

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