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The Pope of Greenwich Village

Year: 1984
Studio: United Artists
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Writer: Vincent Patrick
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Geraldine Page, Burt Young, M Emmet Walsh

I think this is one you'd have to have seen back in the day in a cinema when Mickey Rourke was the hottest thing since sliced bread, and it probably coasted along on his charm alone, because while I've always been aware of its urban, Gen X cool, the story itself left me cold.

Rourke is Charlie, an Italian-American Brooklyner making ends meet managing a restaurant and living with his beautiful dancer girlfriend Diane (Daryl Hannah). His no hoper cousin Paulie (Eric Roberts, barely looking old enough to have a driver's license) is a motor-mouthed wise-guy, constantly getting himself and his cousin in trouble with his schemes.

He's a waiter at Charlie's restaurant and when his latest sting – skimming the bills of customers – is discovered and gets them both thrown out into the street, Charlie's had enough.

Except he hasn't, and the film makes the biggest misstep that continues throughout and which prompted me to mentally and unwittingly check out. Along with a career criminal that runs a clock repair shop, Paulie has hatched a scam to rob the drop from a corrupt cop to local mob boss Bed Bug Eddie (Burt Young).

Even though it's obvious to you as the viewer what a loser Paulie is and how much trouble he'll get Charlie into, the latter just keeps going back to him, alternating between anger at the endless predicaments and the weird family bond that keeps pulling him back.

The robbery goes bad, the cop making the drop actually trying to entrap Eddie by recording the whole transaction but dying in the factory when Charlie and Paulie surprise him and he falls down an elevator shaft.

Then it turns out the money was Bed Bug's all along, leaving then with a dead cop and a mobster's fortune to try and stay ahead of. Even when Diane cottons on to what Charlie's been doing and leaves him, he still picks his loser cousin over her, treating her so terribly at a certain piint I wanted the mobster to find and kill them both.

Paulie, of course, blabs too much around town, and Paulie exacts his first payment when his goons catch up with Paulie at the racetrack. After Diane's left him and Charlie has trashed their apartment and all their belongings, Paulie shows up minus a thumb, chews the scenery to shreds over it and they both colapse in a puddle of tears. Charlie spends the next few days taking care of his cousin like he's an injured pet and I lost what little interest I had left.

If you still care by then, the stakes are that the clockmaker has to skip town when Paulie gives him up, and everybody knows it's only a matter of time until he gives Charlie up too. With the recording off the dead cop, Charlie only has one more hand to play.

It's not really a story, it's just a showcase for characters and their ties in a certain time at a certain place. From everything I've read it evokes 1980s Little Italy and the familial strands that wove it into a whole flawlessly, and Rourke's crooked grin went a long way back then. I just didn't care about anything or anyone else in it.

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