Federal Hill: Corrente’s Tale of Neighborhood and Friendship

Released in the same year as Rob Weiss’ Amongst Friends, and suffering from comparisons with Scorsese’s Mean Streets, was Michael Corrente’s Federal Hill, an exploration of male camaraderie among young Italian-Americans in the hoods of Providence, Rhode Island.

Despite a familiar Mean Streets ring, Federal Hill was well-acted and well-structured with unexpected twists. The film has a romantic angle in the story of Nicky (Anthony De Sando), the local hunk who becomes infatuated with a blonde archeology student (Libby Langdon) who’s way out of his class.

True to form, however, most of the proceedings are about Nick’s friendship with his cronies–firecracker-tempered Ralphie (Nicholas Turturro) and Freddo (played by director Corrente).

In this movie too, the influence of Mean Streets is thematic rather than stylistic. Federal Hill is best when it keeps to the street rhythm of its desperate tough guys. There’s energy in the staging and performances, but there is nothing terribly exciting about the film, except perhaps the struggle to make it: Corrente shot the movie in black and white on a meager $80,000 budget.

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