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  • Ethnic Images
    Part 3 of 3: A Darker Stereotype & Hope For The Future

    Continued from page 2
    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    It wasn’t again until the 1970's that the names of Italian American actors would again become household words. This time around, it was actors Al Pacino and Robert DeNero who would carry the baton for their predecessors. Unfortunately, they would become popular for the nefarious, criminal characters they portrayed. Robert DeNero’s Films: "Raging Bull", " The Godfather", "The Untouchables", " Goodfellows" "Casino" and a "Bronx Tale" consistently associated Italian Americans with violence and crime.

    For decades to come, Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael Corleone, in the wildly popular "Godfather" series, would lay the groundwork for the future depiction of Italian Americans on film.

    Currently, the short sighted image of the Italian American leading man is epitomized by HBO’s James Gandolfini and his menacing character, " Tony Soprano’’.

    Perhaps the future of the Italian American film image lies in the hands of artistic genius Roberto Benigni, (It’s A Beautiful Life) or the handsome face and acting skills of Leonardo DiCaprio, (The Titanic) or the inherited talents of screen writer/director Edoardo Ponti (Between Strangers), son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti. Perhaps they can do what Scorcese and Coppola have failed to do.

    It’s my hope that this new breed of actors and directors will bring to the screen a new reflection of the Italian American and depict their ancestral heritage in a more positive light.

    Hopefully, in the near future when we go to the movie theaters or click on our TV sets, we’ll see films and actors who epitomize our cultural heritage in a more constructive and exciting way. Films that will make every Italian heart beat faster, not with fear, as inspired by characters from "The Soprano’s", but rather with warmth, anticipation and appreciation for the beauty and culture that is uniquely Italy’s own.

    Part 1: Post War America
    Part 2: A New Image Emerges


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