“The Real Goodfella” is a documentary about the famous American snitch, Henry Hill.
Hill was recruited as a child into a violent and loyal mob. He did many things that he “wasn’t proud of” including beatings, protection rackets and other criminal activities. However, the mob deliberately never dealt drugs and killed any member of the gang who did. The rationale for this policy was to ensure that no-one ever got into such a state that they would inform on the others to avoid prison.
However, under pressure to provide money to his “JAP” wife (Jewish American Princess) whilst in prison, Henry started to deal drugs. As with many in the Banged Up Abroad series, Hill had several opportunities to stop his prolific drug dealing – firstly when caught up short by his own mafia boss who could have had him killed for the offence and secondly being searched at an airport by an official who didn’t recognise a bag of cocaine in Hill’s washbag.
With the help of reconstructions, Hill tells the story of how his life quickly got very complicated when he went to collect money he had earned from drug dealing and was instead confronted with several tonnes of cannabis. A series of pushy underworld figures then got him involved with cocaine and, finally, heroin.
The unravelling of the whole operation was not in fact drugs, but guns supplied by Hill that were used in a robbery. The untraceable arms were sourced direct from the manufacturer and so did not have any record. The FBI offered hill a plea deal and he went into witness protection. However, the habit that Hill had caught whilst cutting cocaine followed him up and resulted in a second major stint in prison. He was soon moved for his own protection and finally released as his safety could not be guaranteed in prison.
The final chapter of Hill’s life reads like a fairytale. Hollywood picked up on his story and commissioned a film based on his life. The Goodfella’s pre;iere was preceded by a visit to Henry Hill in his rehab unit from Martin Scorcese. Hill talks without compelling remorse and has fall guys for every bad decision. However, he is a consummate story teller and the documentary is an amazing tale of how long one man can flout the law of the land, the rules of the mob and even his own marriage before a hectic lifestyle catches up with him.
“Banged Up Abroad: The Real Goodfella” airs on National Geographic Channel on Tuesday 4th October 2011 at 9pm for UK audiences only.