A Bronx Tale is an autobiographical one-man play written by Chazz Palminteri. It was made into a movie starring and directed by Robert De Niro in 1993. It was adapted into a Broadway musical directed by De Niro and Jerry Zaks in 2016. Tony-nominated Colombian dancer Sergio Trujillo did the choreography.
A Bronx Tale is Romeo and Juliet
“A Bronx Tale” is a coming-of-age story. It’s a modern Romeo and Juliet set in an Italian neighborhood in 1960s New York City. The play itself has a nice story behind it.
Palminteri moved to Los Angeles hoping to work in movies. He wasn’t getting any parts so over a weekend he wrote a one-man play for himself. When Palminteri performed it for his actor’s workshop, his classmates loved it, so he continued developing the story.
When he opened the one-man play, it took off. He got great reviews and a lot of attention from actors, producers, and directors. Palminteri turned down a million dollars for the movie rights because he wanted play the role of the gangster in the movie. That turned out to be a smart decision.
Robert De Niro saw the show. He agreed to cast Palminteri as the gangster and also act in the film if he could direct it. “A Bronx Tale” was a critical success. It is considered one of the great gangster movies.
Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale
Bus driver Lorenzo is raising his young son Calogero. Calogero admires a local gangster named Sonny. When Calogero keeps quiet after seeing Sonny kill a man while defending someone else, Sonny takes a liking to the boy. In gratitude, Sonny offers Calogero’s father Lorenzo a better job which is refused. When Lorenzo finds out that his son is doing little jobs for Sonny, the two men argue.
Later as a teenager, Calogero stays in touch with Sonny secretly and hangs out with a crew of young Italian kids. When Calogero gets a crush on Jane, an African-American girl, Sonny loans him a car for a date.
A group of black kids bike riding through the neighborhood gets beaten up by Calogero’s friends. One of the riders is Jane’s brother Willie. When Calogero arrives for the date, Willie blames Calogero for the attack and Jane leaves him.
Sonny finds a bomb in his car and accuses Calogero of trying to kill him. Calogero professes his love for Sonny who lets him go.
Willie’s friends egg the hangout of Calogero’s friends who decide to retaliate with Molotov cocktails. On their way to retaliate Sonny stops the car and makes Calogero get out.
Calogero meets Jane who says her brother admitted Calogero was not the one who beat him up. Their love is renewed. Remembering that his friends are on their way to attack Jane’s neighborhood, Calogero and Jane rush to the scene to find the car on fire with all of Calogero’s friends dead inside.
Calogero goes to thank Sonny for saving his life, but arrives just as someone shoots Sonny dead. Calogero later learns it was the son of the man he saw killed when he was a boy. At the funeral Calogero recognizes the man who Sonny was defending at that first killing.
Calogero’s father arrives to pay his respects to Sonny. Calogero and his father make peace.
This article was first published November 11, 2016.
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