HomeMoviesWait! Have You Not Seen... WISE GUYS?

Wait! Have You Not Seen… WISE GUYS?

Apologize for the delay in writing these, but you know dad stuff and that other thing called… a job. Anyway, a few weeks ago I mentioned a movie to Larry and Mark that I loved and don’t believe either of them had seen it. This is one of the 5 comedies that my dad and uncle loved, and passed their love of it on to me. I have seen this flick a whole lot coming from a predominantly Italian New Jersey family. This hits home in so many ways that it is tough to explain, but time to honor a hidden gem that I think a majority of people have passed over. 

This movie starts out in the 1980s in the great city of Newark, NJ. You are introduced to Harry Valentini and Moe Dickstein. These two guys are the lowest level of the mob. They are the gophers, get the suit cleaned. Check the car for a bomb, even test out this new suit jacket the boss just got. Oh, it is bullet proof, but let’s just test it to see if it works on Moe. Oh, I missed an important part, who is playing these two roles. Harry Valentini is played by the comedy genius Danny Devito, and Moe Dickstein is NJ great Joe Piscopo. Actually, I guess, technically both actors are New Jersey-famous as they are both born in the Garden State. Harry and Moe have orders to place a bet on a race for the boss. They go to the racetrack, and Harry changes the bet because he figures the horse the boss wants will lose. The boss’s horse always loses, so, nothing is new. Moe agrees and they place a bet on a different horse, and plan on using the money they win to open up their dream of an italian/Jewish delicatessen. Well, of course the boss’s horse wins, and they now have to head back and come clean. After a bunch of comedic torture, the boss speaks to them both individually. If one kills the other one, he will forget this mistake. And that is where this movie goes on it’s fun adventure. I will stop there, because I hope I hooked you. 

Let’s talk about the cast. I mentioned Danny Devito is one of the main stars. This is 1986, so post- his brilliance of Louie on Taxi and actually after Ralph from Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile. Both absolute classics. The other main star is Joe Piscopo. This is also post his great run on SNL and Johnny Dangerously. Awesome comedians at a quiet time in their careers. Let’s tackle the Mob boss, Anthony Castello. He is played by the Dan Hedaya who I love in everything he does, including the captain in Running Scared. Also filmed in 1986. Next is the mob muscle, Frank “The Fixer” Acavano played by the famous WWF wrestler/manager Captain Lou Albano. He is amazing in this role and plays the mob muscle perfectly. Ironically Lou Albano is originally from Rome, Italy, so again the casting is perfect. Last two actors to mention. The great mob actor Frank Vincent is in this flick as Louie Fontucci. A great background mob actor to up the ante. And lastly Harry and Moe’s old pal Bobby DiLea, who is played by Harvel Keitel. Yup, that guy. I could not even begin to name all the movies but let’s just say he started acting in 1967 and has never stopped being in stuff. I love him for everything he has done but this is before a majority of his prime roles. Just a great cast.

Next is the people that put this flick together. Let’s start with the director. It is some guy called Brian De Palma. Yeah, I never heard of him either. Actually, yeah that guy. This is 1986, so after Carrie, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, and Body Double. He makes this comedy and then the following year makes The Untouchables. And I could not figure out why until I realized he is also from Newark NJ, so he is apart of that NJ crew. The writers are George Gallo, mostly known for writing Midnight Run, but that is 1988, so this is his first film. And Norman Steinberg, who is known for cowriting Blazing Saddles and Johnny Dangerously, which De Palma loved. So makes sense he would get people that worked on that flick. The producer was Aaron Russo, no relation to the Russo Brothers of Marvel fame, but he did produce Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, so he also knew good comedy. The people that put this together, Thank You. 

At this point I normally hit you with my favorite part of any flick. The quotes. I will leave you with the only one that I use to this day. 

“Thank You Mr. Acavano”

When this shows up in the movie the first time, you will laugh, by the 6th time it will become a part of your vocabulary. My father and I have been saying this back and forth to one another since the 90s, so we love this flick. Last little fact, the rumor is my cousin Rickey is in the background when they were filming a scene I believe in Atlantic City. Probably a Uchrin/Collucci urban legend, but makes this flick even more loved by me. 

Looks like Amazon has it for rent for the normal four bucks. Like I always say, give it a shot and if you hate it, find me and I have four singles to hand you back. I just don’t think anyone is asking for a refund.

Steve Uchrin
Steve Uchrin
Steve Uchrin is a former comic shop clerk, a former video store clerk, and current married dad of two girls with zero interest in comics or movies. Owner of 10+ terabytes of flicks and the largest McDonald's "cocaine" spoon collection this side of the Mississippi.


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