Steven Fischler
John Turturro

Today, Italian American film artists are well represented in Hollywood and the independent film community, shaping the art and craft of moviemaking in America and creating box office hits all over the world.

BEYOND WISEGUYS shows how Italian Americans transformed themselves from “outsiders” – stereotyped by the Hollywood establishment as mobsters – into industry insiders and a creative force to be reckoned with.  Using a mosaic of interviews with well-known contemporary Italian American filmmakers like Chazz Palminteri, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Jack Valenti, David Chase, Ben Gazzara, Isabella Rossellini and others, the documentary highlights the ways in which these filmmakers use their heritage to positively shape the art and craft of American cinema.

Told against the backdrop of Hollywood history, the documentary is lavishly punctuated with film clips, stills and family photos – many supplied by the interviewees themselves.  “It’s impossible to imagine American film history without Frank Capra, Francis Cord Coppola or Martin Scorsese,” says Fred Gardaphe, Chairman of the Italian American Studies Program at SUNY Stony Brook.  “It’s also hard to separate the popular image of Italian Americans from the goombas that crowd many of Hollywood’s most successful films.” Beyond Wiseguys explores the history of the Italian-as-gangster stereotype from the silent era, the advent of the “talkies,” through groundbreaking films like The Godfather and the acclaimed television series The Sopranos.

“It’s an entertaining, provocative film,” says Executive Producer Turturro, “interesting not only to America’s 20 million Italian Americans but to movie lovers all over the country.” BEYOND WISEGUYS:  Italian Americans & The Movies is a co-production of Beachcomber Films and Pacific Street Films.  The film runs approximately one hour.


Among the Interviewees

• Ben Gazzara
• Isabella Rossellini
• John Turturro
• Marisa Tomei
• Michael Feinstein
• Nancy Savoca
• Susan Sarandon
• Paul Borghese
• Ralph Macchio
• John Penotti
• Paul Sorvino
• Chazz Palminteri
• John Caglione, Jr.
• Frank Capra, Jr.
• Giorgio Bertellini
• David Chase
• Dominic Chianese
• Fred Gardaphe
• Richard La Gravenese
• Spike Lee
• Santo Loquasto
• Elizabeth Messina
• Antonio Monda
• Michael Rispoli
• Jack Valenti
• Martin Scorsese
• Nicholas Pillegi
• Joe Pesci
• Robert Di Niro
• David Thomson
• Stanley Tucci
Susan Sarandon
Martin Scorsese



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BEYOND WISEGUYS is funded in part by grants from the National Italian American Foundation.