The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)

Watch Eric Roberts snatch defeath from the jaws of victory.

The Pope of Greenwich Village is a slice of “Little Italy” in the same vein as films like The Death Collector or Mean Streets or China Girl – all films interest in capturing the look and feel of a sub-culture  as much as they are interested in telling a good story. Here, two scheming Italian cousins steal money from the mob to buy a race horse. Mickey Rourke is memorable as the smarter of the two cousins, if only because its nice to see him when his talent did not rely mostly on his haggard looks, but on his acting ability. Then there is Eric Roberts, who I am certain is a decent enough of an actor (he’s in no less than ten films in 2010), but Roberts is an actor who has as much right being in an “Italian” film as a hot dog has of being on the menu in an Italian restaurant. I don’t necessarily mind his characters, who is by design frustrating, but Roberts simply doesn’t look or act the part and his histrionics make for good laughs, but they stretch the believability beyond the breaking point. It is quite sad to see one actor steal every scene for all the wrong reasons.

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