Episode #27: “The Many Saints of Newark” (2021 film) *Spoilers*

In this episode Mark talks about the 2021 American crime film “The Many Saints of Newark” directed by Alan Taylor and written by David Chase and Lawrence Konner. A prequel to David Chase’s HBO crime drama TV series “The Sopranos”, the film stars Michael Gandolfini, Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga. Set in the 1960s and 1970s in Newark, New Jersey, using the 1967 riots in the city as a backdrop for tensions between the Italian-American and African-American communities, the film follows the teenage years of Tony Soprano in the midst of a violent gang war his uncle and family are involved in.

My Poem “Tony Soprano”

There has never been a TV show since,
and there may never be a TV show
again,
like the hit show ‘The Sopranos’ –
and there will never be another
character like Tony Soprano:
the Mob Boss of North New Jersey,
who in my opinion was the first
anti-hero on TV who was so complex,
so intriguing, and so compelling
that nobody who watched him
could help themselves from
rooting for him, no matter what
he did and no matter what he said.

Tony Soprano woke up every morning,
he walked down his driveway
to retrieve his copy of the daily newspaper,
and then after that there was
no telling what he was going to next;
but one thing was always clear:
whatever Tony did he did for his family –
both his blood family
as well as for his crime family,
and everything that he did
was all to keep the Soprano family
and the thing of theirs
that was their life going
by any means necessary.

In my opinion, no one could have
played Tony Soprano
like James Gandolfini did –
because Tony Soprano was
someone who was smart;
Tony Soprano was someone
who internalised and wrestled
with a lot of psychological trauma
because of his mother, Livia,
and because his father Johnny Soprano
had been a gangster before Tony
was even born
there was no question that he would also
become a member of the family business;
but Tony Soprano was not like
everybody else in his family:
he suffered panic attacks –
and because he loved his family
so much he sought out the help
of a therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi,
in order to be a more effective
father and boss to those who followed his lead.

You don’t get to meet too many characters like Tony Soprano,
nor from episode to episode
watch someone like him
do what only someone like him
could do…
you don’t get to see acting of the
calibre that James Gandolfini had that often –
and it is clear as day that he put
every ounce of his talent into
making Tony the engaging, the profound,
and the powerhouse of a character that he was;
which is why viewers did not
want to see what they ultimately saw
at the end,
when the screen suddenly went to black –
because nobody knew that only moments before
they had just taken one last look
at one of the greatest characters
in television history:
the one and the only Tony Soprano.