Beppo, Ezmo, Mario...uh-oh! When Kid Sally and his gang of goodfellas come up with a plan to grab a piece of the mob action, it'll be a no-brainer. The screen version of newspaperman Jimmy Breslin's best-selling comic nove... more »l about a Brooklyn turf war has all chambers firing. Jerry Orbach (Law & Order) plays Kid Sally, a small-timer aiming for the big time by targeting rival Baccala (raspy-voiced Lionel Stander). And on-the-rise screen giant Robert De Niro plays Mario, posing as a priest in the Kid's scheme to give Last Rites to Baccala. It's the perfect crime. Planned by perfect idiots.« less
"This is such a funny movie, but not in the obvious slapstick or toilet humor vein that passes for modern movie comedy nowadays. In this spoof of the Mafia and an attempted "hostile takeover", the humor is dark, sometimes subtle, with hilarity that simmers just under the surface. It helps to know something about Italian families---both regular and criminal---, but this movie is painfully funny nevertheless, much in the same way as the great British series "Fawlty Towers". This is a very 70's type of comedy, demanding that the viewer have an attention span and a sharp eye for detail. Like British and other genre comedies, it may not be for everyone, but we found it very enjoyable.The cast is terrific: Jerry Orbach is perfect for the part of the luckless Sally Palumbo, Jo Van Fleet gives an incredible performance as his creepy mother, Leigh Taylor-Young is both tough and sweet as his little sister, and a young Robert DeNiro is superb as the con-artist Mario. The others, including Herve Villechaize, Lionel Stander, Joe Stantos and Frank Campanella, are all great and there isn't a bad actor in the wide array of supporting players. The story line is also well-written, taking the viewer on one sick and crazy ride through the bowels of both the Mafia and a "typical" Italian family---and who can say which is worse?Pay close attention when watching this; some jokes are more readily apparent than others. Our personal favorites included: the panties' check done on the little sister by the neighborhood thugs as she heads for school (After which they report to her mother that, yes, she's wearing them.), the attempted knife-throw that cuts the power line, the professional mourner at the funerals, the demolitions expert who gets blown up by the cops using their radio to report his suspicious activity, and Sally Palumbo feeding his pet lion the wrong brown paper bag. The list could go on for a mile, but we don't want to spoil things for folks who have never seen this movie.In summary, this is a great example of a 70's dark comedy in which whatever can go wrong for this hapless gang will go wrong. If you prefer slapstick or obvious humor, you may not like this film, but most people should find it at least reasonably enjoyable. We felt like we got more than our money's worth, if only to get a look at DeNiro when he was a kid. "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" is a wonderfully good time, well-written and well-acted."
NOW this is Entertainment!
Rick D. Barszcz | bristol, ct United States | 07/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunely this movie was a sleeper in the theatres when it first came out. But check out the cast! Jo Ann Fleet (thoughtly modern millie) and Robert DeNiro in a comedy.An a comedy it is. It's just pure fun and a great uplifing movie if you have the blues. It's so funny and you won't be disappointed,,,i promise.."
Really, it isn't all that bad
R. L. MILLER | FT LAUDERDALE FL USA | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This flick is getting panned by reviewers who measure it with the yardstick of DeNiro's other work and Orbach's later greatness as Lennie Briscoe in "Law & Order", but if the truth be known, it's a precursor of "Johnny Dangerously". Orbach plays Kid Sally Palumbo, a "young Turk" of the Mob, resentful of his boss Baccala (Lionel Stander), who has the cliche "moustache Pete" old-line contempt for Kid Sally's small faction. Urged on by his grandmother Big Mama (Jo Van Fleet), he follows her advice not to take anything from anybody. When the Palumbo faction is finally rounded up by the cops, she has a lot to say to news cameras after Kid Sally just flips them the bird. Her first two bits of invective make broadcast as they watch themselves on the news, but then censors start to bleep her out. At that point, she leaps to her feet and shakes her fist at the screen, denying that she'd ever said "beep". The later work "Johnny Dangerously" was dismissed as "puerile" by reviewers and so it was. So's this one, but there's a certain entertainment value to "dopey fun", as you see every night of the week on TV's "reality shows". But they don't get slammed very much. I wonder why."
Vintage De Niro in his pre-stardom prime
Gert Marincowitz | Pretoria, South Africa | 09/05/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Another one of De Niro's early film performances being released on DVD, following last year's release of The Wedding Party (De Niro's first film made in 1963 but only released in 1969) and Hi, Mom! (1970, the sequel to Greetings, 1968). As in the case of these three De Palma-directed films, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight featured De Niro in a comedic performance, shortly before he would become better known, later in the decade, for brilliant dramatic performances in landmark films such as Mean Streets (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Taxi Driver (1976). This is probably also the first time that De Niro appears in a gangster film and his first performance as a priest at the beginning of a career in which he would regularly feature as either a doomed gangster (Mean Streets, Godfather II, Untouchables 1987, Goodfellas 1990, Casino 1995) or a compromised priest (True Confessions 1981, The Mission 1986, Sleepers 1997), mostly wrestling with his demons or struggling in a bleak environment of moral ambiguity. Here we see De Niro at the beginning of his career in a spoof about gangsters - three decades before De Niro himself spoofed his gangster persona in Analyse This (1999), Analyse That (2002) and Shark Tale (2004, the latter film collaborating with his old mentor Martin Scorsese, who directed eight top-notch De Niro performances from Mean Streets through to Casino).
De Niro's mock, money-seeking priest has traces both of his equally deceptive character Jon Rubin in the earlier Greetings and Hi, Mom! and his irresponsible, clownish, debt-ridden, small-time gangster Johnny Boy in the later Mean Streets. However cliche'd this may sound, De Niro's sweet performance, two years before he would make his major breakthrough with Johnny Boy, and his relationship with the one gangster's sister is one of the few moments in the film not undermined by the film's propensity for exaggerated Italian accents and mafia caricatures, instead showcasing De Niro's ability to make the most of a very modest role and (in contrast to his later performances in blockbuster comedies and the likes of Rocky and Bullwinkle 2000) put in a remarkably subtle and believable performance. "
DeNiro and Villechaize...Together Again
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 07/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This hood comedy is a decidedly mixed affair. Most of the film's broad humor is hit or miss, usually miss. There are some moments of inspired comedy here to make it worth your while. What distinguishes the film is a young Robert DeNiro's inspired turn as an Italian thief. DeNiro's work here towers over anything else in the film. His performance here seems to inform his later role as Johnny Boy in Martin Scorsese's classic, "Mean Streets'."