From as far back as I can remember … I always thought highly of Frank Vincent.
He just dominated scenes, even if his appearances in films were fleeting. He was the archetypal ‘heavy’ because he looked the part so well, but he had a gravelly charisma that was so natural it elevated him above his character actor peers. His violent interactions with Joe Pesci are his legacy:
In Raging Bull (1980) Joe Pesci repeatedly slams a car window into his noggin.
In Goodfellas (1990) Joe Pesci doesn’t take kindly to being asked to go home for his shine box.
In Casino (1995) Frank Vincent belatedly enacts revenge by burying Joe Pesci alive in a cornfield.
Such were the charming cinematic highlights of my youth.
It was in the final two seasons of The Sopranos, though, that Frank Vincent’s acting chops were finally rewarded with a meatier role. His antagonist Phil Leotardo was the most complex in the show, a tragic combination of envy, hubris, and self-loathing. He should have got an Emmy for his performance.