How Scorsese Used Music to Turn 'Goodfellas' into a Cocaine-Fueled Nightmare

Goodfellas Helicopter
Breaking down how Martin Scorsese masterfully edits music in ‘Goodfellas’.

If there’s ever been one auteur filmmaker who absolutely understood the power of music in their films, it would be the great Martin Scorsese.

From his early days starting out with Mean Streets (which can almost feel at times like you’re watching a series of music videos) to his more well-defined stylings in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, he managed to use music to move his stories, and by the time Scorsese made his mobster classic Goodfellas, his ability to work with music in his films’ edits was absolute perfection. 

In this video essay by Beyond the Frame, we get an in-depth study into how Scorsese doesn’t just add music separate from his films’ visuals, but finds a way to combine the two seamlessly together.

Scorsese on Editing Music

While touching on music and sound editing throughout the films from Scorsese’s career, we focus in on the famous helicopter scene at the climax of Goodfellas as perhaps Scorsese’s greatest work.

Edited by Scorsese’s longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker (here’s a great article on how they worked together on Raging Bull), this sequence features some pinpoint tracks by The Who (“Magic Bus”) and Muddy Waters (“Mannish Boy”).

The final effect is an edit which packs much more of a rock and roll punch and makes for edge-of-your-seat action and suspense throughout.

If you’re looking for more Scorsese filmmaking resources, here are some tips of his on directing, his essential movies list and even insights into how Scorsese’s mother makes pizza from scratch    

Your Comment

1 Comment

I will need and video essay to explain how the person who made this video essay thinks. Very confusing and unfocused. There is sooo much talk of other things and re edits that is hard to follow what the scene in question really sounds like. I just stopped half way.

March 27, 2019 at 11:33AM


I need to rewatch GoodFellas for the 28th time after this.

March 28, 2019 at 1:24AM, Edited March 28, 1:24AM