You’re Gonna Dig The Hole: the 5 Best Confrontations Between Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci

There was never a pair as funny or frightening as Pesci and DeNiro, a filmic duo that resembles a profane and perennially violent Abbot and Costello, wrought by director extraordinaire Martin Scorsese. The exchanges between these two actors over the years have produced some of the most spirited, colorful and bullheaded bickering on record, as these titans of NYC machismo have it out over imagined cuckoldings, body burial, prizefight bookings, you name it. Here are the best rows had by these good friends of ours.

5 “œYou Lost Control”- Casino (1995)

After threatening to crack a banker’s head open on a bright morning in DeNiro’s home, cocksure mob boss Pesci begins to question his friends allegiances when he is taken to task for such boldness. Each one questions the others control of things, but at the end of the day Pesci is right about the pink robe and cigarette holder.

4 “œEven If You Lose, You Still Win””“ Raging Bull (1980)

Pesci’s Joey La Motta has the twin thankless tasks of being brother and manager to DeNiro’s thuggish middleweight champ, and as he tries to explain a strategic career maneuver he’s enacted for his bullheaded client at the breakfast table amongst their wives, the hilarity and confusion abound. No Jake, you are in fact not “œin the circus over here.”

3 “œYou Motherf****er, You””“ Casino (1995)

Mob bookie Ace Rothstein (Deniro) just wants to run his casino nice and quiet, but feels longtime friend and mob capo Nicky Santoro (Pesci) is creating too much heat for that to happen. After making such concerns known to their mutual boss, and news of said conversation reaching Pesci, the stage is set for a grueling dressing down in the Nevada desert. An irate Pesci none too calmly informs DeNiro of his true standing in Las Vegas and who really runs things, and leaves poor Bobby standing alone in the sand to ponder his lot.

2 “œYou’re Gonna Dig The Hole””“ Goodfellas (1990)

In Goodfellas, psycho mob underling Tommy Devito, played by Pesci, loves to bully bartender Spider (Michael Imperioli of Sopranos fame), who Pesci shoots in the foot for slow service. A week later, Spider tells Pesci to “œgo f*** himself in a room full of stunned mobsters, including DeNiro, who is prompted to jokingly goad Pesci into retaliation. Spider is quickly ventilated to the sheer disbelief of the entire room. DeNiro matter-of-factly assures him that he will not join him in excavating duties that night, quite understandably. Pesci, having dug many holes, remains unfazed.

1 “œDid You F*** My Wife ?””“ Raging Bull, 1980

Notable for being the one instance where the usually unflappable Pesci registers genuine hurt and disbelief amidst the sound and fury, possibly because this is the one time he’s playing a character clearly saner than DeNiro’s. Robert De Niro’s Jake La Motta spends a considerable amount of the film’s runtime being paranoid over who’s been sleeping with his wife and he turns that rage on his own brother, Pesci. What follows is a torrent of typically f-bomb laden jabs at the ever-fattening, silently simmering DeNiro from the incredulous Pesci, who exits his brothers house with the parting shot, “œYa f***in screwball, ya!”

Craig Johnson II was born in Los Angeles and is a resident of Brooklyn, NY. In addition to writing for Top 5, the lifelong film and comic book nerd is a freelance illustrator and graphic novelist whose work can be seen at http://craigj2.blogspot.com.

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