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Johnny Dangerously (1984)

“Organised crime has never been this disorganised!”

This gangster parody set in 1935 charts the rise and fall of good-natured New York mobster Johnny Kelly – aka Johnny Dangerously (Michael Keaton) – a swell, cocky Irishman who’s both tough and sensitive and also a very natty dresser.

Johnny joins the mob because Mom Kelly (Maureen Stapleton) needs money to pay for a pancreas operation. The family is an interesting sociological study. Mom is a slightly twisted laundress and younger brother, Tommy (Griffin Dunne) is on the opposite side of the law – he’s a crusading Assistant DA. He’s also so dense that he doesn’t realise Johnny is a notorious gangster.

Rising through the ranks of Jocko Dundee’s (Peter Boyle) mob, Johnny shows his criminal genius by outmanoeuvring the Japanese opposition.

The film’s top villain is the demented Danny Vermin (Joe Piscopo), looking sinister with his pencil-thin moustache and menacing glares. Danny loves to say outrageous things, like when he tells Johnny; “Collectin’ protection money, putting hoahs to work, loan sharkin’, plantin’ bombs in cars . . . these are a few of my favourite things”.

Other members of the talented cast include Marilu Henner as the torch singer who lights Johnny’s fire; Danny DeVito as a gleefully corrupt DA; Richard Dimitri as a rival gang boss who gets laughs with his crude malapropisms; and Dom DeLuise in a split-second cameo as the Pope.

This enjoyably silly stuff from Clueless (1995) and Look Who’s Talking director Amy Heckerling zips along at a fair old pace and is peppered with some great one-liners.

Johnny Dangerously (Kelly)
Michael Keaton
Danny Vermin
Joe Piscopo
Marilu Henner
Mrs Kelly
Maureen Stapleton
Jocko Dundee
Peter Boyle
Griffin Dunne
Glynnis O’Connor
Richard Dimitri
Danny DeVito
Dick Butkus
Ron Carey
The Pope
Dom DeLuise
Scott Thomson
Mark Jantzen
Gary Watkins
Mike Bacarella
Tony Scarano
Leonard Termo
Mrs Capone
Cynthia Szigeti

Amy Heckerling