Ray Liotta in Something Wild and Field of Dreams Before Henry Hill

Ray Liotta in Something Wild and Field of Dreams Before Henry Hill ...

When I first heard about the Goodfellas photo from Martin Scorsese, which was called Wiseguy, I was thrilled as everyone else. Scorsese was doing a full-on gangster picture, and this was his first such film reuniting him with Robert De Niro after a six-year layoff, as well as with Raging Bulls Joe Pesci, to boot. But I was also struck by another flaw about Ray Liotta, who was known

Jonathan Demme was eventually a well-known and well-known director in 1986, but also with quirky, unpredictable moments like Handle With Care and Melvin and Howard to his credit. There was also the classic Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. He also includes Charles, a buttoned-up yuppie (young Jeff Daniels), who after handcuffing him to a hotel bed and showing him what her mama offered him, and brings him to her high-school reunion dance. Think Bringing

The Feelies, the band''s chiming, evocative song Loveless Love, pokes fun at them with their spiky black hair and black jacket, making a saddened surprise. And his dance partner pokes a finger at Charles and Audrey as they leave. Ray''s eyes following them are frightening.

When Ray arrives out of the dance field in a casual-seeming pursuit, he makes all grins and nice-to-meet-yous and aint that somethings. Lit by the same red car lights that bathe his face in the opening scene of Goodfellas, he inveigles Charles and Audrey to join him and his own date for just one drink. Hes gonna get in trouble with those guys, the exaggeratedly mousy wife of a

The half of the relationship with Daniels in this section is similar to what Lance Henriksen''s technique in Aliens, stabbing the blade between his fingers faster and faster without drawing blood. However, when Charles is trying to clean himself up, Ray says, "It''s not a bad day."

Another kidnapping this time Ray absconds with Audrey and Charles willing to transform from milquetoast to avenger. Liotta is absolutely terrifying throughout, even as he delivers his last line, which I can reproduce without a spoiler: Shit Charlie. What he does when he then looks at himself in a bathroom mirror is a remarkable visual acting.

The Russ Meyer playbook''s subtle tonal shift is right out. The Meyers nudity-filled drive-in classics were also films that went from slapstick to stunning violence with no warning, making you like it. Demme made his bones with Roger Corman, and he cast Meyer regular Charles Napier in almost all his photographs, but the grindhouse touches here are part of what make Something Wild such a captivating picture. Liotta, however, goes for pure neo-

My friend, Stan Demeski, the drummer for The Feelies, asked if he had any memories or impressions of Liotta, and he wrote me:

I remember seeing Ray as a kind guy who got an early big break, but I did know that he was from New Jersey, which is barely New Jersey. I did not know he was born in Newark and adopted until I just read his obituary during dinner tonight.

What I really recall is that he got off the set with us one night. He sat up front in the van, turned around to look at us a few times, and managed to look friendly and threatening at the same time. Im certain the threatening part was influenced by the role he played in the film.

I''ve enjoyed his acting, and im very sorry to hear of his passing.

Last week, when The Feelies played in Brooklyn, I visited them, and Stans wife was sporting the authentic cast and crew t-shirt from Something Wild.

Liotta plays Shoeless Joe Jackson, the onetime White Sox outfielder who spearheaded the 1919 World Series, and avoids eye contact with Costners Ray Kinsella, announcing that he was getting kicked out of baseball. He''s already mastered the technique, though it''s simple, unadorned, and direct. As the dialogue itself becomes more poetic, Liotta makes it even simpler.

Shoeless Joe gets Kinsella to pitch to him once the player has chosen the right bat, but Costner concedes. Another soliloquy follows, with a flickering half-smile. In a major-league film, Liotta''s initial introduction is the first step to get the waterworks going.

Here, for accuracy, we must be certain that these portents of greatness are no, let''s not be ungenerous, and these two achievements of greatness are not Liotta''s sole pre-Goodfellas films. There are also 1988s Dominick and Eugene, an earnest, well-intentioned film in which Liotta is able to entertain him. I only mention it in case you ever reach a point in your own life when all hope is gone.

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