[box cover]

The Pope of Greenwich Village

"Something I learned a long time ago about honest work. People tell you they got honest work for you. You know what they got? They got a shit job, that's what they got." So says Charlie (Mickey Rourke), small-time crook and would-be restaurant owner — a hustler working as a maitre d' while longing for the good life. Charlie's cousin Paulie (Eric Roberts) waits tables in the same restaurant, but when Paulie is caught skimming from the restaurant's profits, both men lose their jobs. Charlie is no prize in the brains department, but compared to Paulie he is Stephen Hawking. That said, collectively the two have the common sense of a barnyard animal. For whatever reasons — presumably family and ethnic loyalty — Charlie can't keep himself from becoming involved in Paulie's hair-brained, sure-to-fail schemes. When Paulie convinces Charlie to pull a robbery, he neglects to mention to Charlie that the safe they are cracking belongs to local crime boss "Bed Bug" Eddie (the ever mumbling Burt Young). Soon the two are fingered for the job, and not even their mob-connected uncle can help them out of their predicament. Adapted by Vincent Patrick from his own novel, The Pope of Greenwich Village is a movie in search of a purpose. Perhaps director Stuart Rosenberg was the wrong man for the job, or maybe it's that this foray into a world of New York thugs has been so much more clearly and cleverly portrayed in movies like Mean Streets and Goodfellas. Rosenberg keeps the movie on the surface, generating a bland film style that causes characters and events to get lost in the background. As Paulie, Roberts is all over the place with a character that should be sympathetic but is just a pain (and when Charlie occasionally roughs up Paulie you really want him to beat the guy to a pulp). Adopting his usual tough-guy persona, Rourke plays Charlie as someone just a few years away from becoming Henry Chinaski of Barfly. Daryl Hannah as Charlie's girlfriend looks as though she would rather be anywhere else than with Rourke, and who can blame her? Geraldine Page gives the only outstanding performance as a corrupt cop's boozy, wizened mother, for which she received an Oscar nomination. The Pope of Greenwich Village was more impressive when it first arrived in theaters in 1984; unfortunately, too many good movies have passed in the meantime to make this a film of much note. MGM's DVD edition offers a widescreen transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—Kerry Fall



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