September 19, 2020


While he had been making The Color of Money a few years previously, Scorsese took time away from Tom Cruise’s increasingly dazzling smile to read a non-fiction book by Nicholas Pileggi, Wiseguy. Pileggi’s beguiling and revelatory account of the everyday life of the New York Mafia appealed to Scorsese for its procedural aspects as much as the opportunity to make a gripping and visceral piece of cinema, and so he telephoned the writer in an attempt to purchase the rights. In the retelling, their conversation has something of the mythical nature of Stanley meeting Livingstone: Scorsese told Pileggi, “I’ve been waiting for this book my entire life”, to which the understandably overwhelmed writer replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call my entire life.”

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