Tales of New York

by Sharon White - Date: 2007-02-04 - Word Count: 552 Share This!

A Bronx Tale deals with bringing up children in a big city, dangers of gangster life, and stereotypes about Italian Americans. Its 1960's New York, and Lorenzo is a bus driver in a community full of swaggering hoods, social clubs, jukebox crooners, and shady goings-on. His son, Calogero is the main piece in the jigsaw of temptation. He sees the local con man Sonny in and around the neighborhood, making deals, and issuing orders to his henchmen. The awe of Sonny is in Calogero's eyes.The usual Hollywood typecast is then evident in Sonny and the New York area. Italian American mob dealings are a focal point in the film, and a Hollywood scenario that is consistently evoked. However, the main issue is the reason behind the plot of mob boss. The dealing and illegality from Sonny is not of prime importance, but more so the image of a man who has money, success, and most importantly, respect. That is what shines Calogero to Sonny and his actions. The theme is a common one amongst any working class background - to escape the mundane and just-getting-by life of his regular father's. The route is not towards illegal deals for the son, but towards the dream of having people respect and look up to oneself. The stereotypes are always present in the movie, however. The basic mob-look of Sonny and his aggressive orders and shady character are typical characterizations of Italian Americans, with money and prestige, in Hollywood films. The mobster is not what Calogero wants to become. He sees Sonny kill a man, but true to the code of the community, and even his law-abiding father Lorenzo, he tells the police he saw nothing, and Sonny goes free. This stereotype is a positive and realistic depiction of an important trait to Italians - always put the community needs and circumstance first, like family. The relationship between Sonny and Calogero can seem artificial at first, but the growing respect Sonny has for the younger deepens, and "C" moves towards the achievement of attaining respect himself. Rispetto is an achievement that is placed as high as any Italian ethic, and it is evident as a theme in this movie. Conflicting with the C and Sonny relationship is that of father and son. Lorenzo is shown as a humble, hardworking, caring man, who oozes respect - only his respect is a working-class and subtle one, to his son. Lorenzo objects deeply to his son's movement towards a life, as his father knows, of not respect and honor, but illegality and negativity. The father's growing pain casts him to look at what he has done and whether he can help stop his son's stubborn teenage drive. In the end, we see how maturity and wisdom can help bring the sense of purpose his great father has provided younger man, as the blindness to his father's honor and hard work eventually become clearer to Calogero.The stereotypes in this film are then common Hollywood typecast of Italian Americanism, but to me there are more positive realities here than not. The Italian way of respect, family virtues, and seeing problems and bad mistakes as a learning curve and means to a better end, not only summarize a positive reality to our tradition, but to any humans.

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