Content Disclaimer: The following article contains descriptions/discussions of suicide and drug use.
On July 25, 2022, Hollywood lost one of its best actors. Paul Sorvino was a beloved figure on the big and small screen. Often associated with his gangster-like work, no doubt because of his work with Martin Scorsese, Sorvino’s intimidating screen presence has made him an acting force to be reckoned with.
However, he was not strictly limited to such roles. Sorvino was incredibly versatile, lending his talents to any project where he could bring the character to life. Rotten Tomatoes identifies its greatest movies worth watching in honor of the great actor.
ten Bulworth (1998) – 76%
With Hollywood legend Warren Beatty in the lead role, Bulworth is a dark comedy with a truly original premise. A suicidal politician contracts an assassination attempt on his own life, then decides to shrug off platitudes and rhetoric, instead of speaking bluntly with voters.
Sorvino appears as Graham Crockett and defends himself against the main cast, all of whom do a great job in their own right. Although he lacks Beatty’s billing, Sorvino’s character is crucial to the success of the film’s message. Despite its absurdities, Bulworth is biting political satire, and it’s the perfect watch for fans of politically tinged comedies.
9 The Cooler (2003) – 77%
Featuring the always-awesome William H. Macy, who makes audiences squirm in the hit series Shameless, The cooler follows the top jinx in a Vegas casino, whose job it is to make gamblers lose. When he falls in love, however, his skills begin to fade and his boss isn’t happy about it.
The cooler is a great film, which shares many similarities with the work of director Martin Scorsese. Despite his rather brief appearance, Sorvino displays his dramatic chops in many of the film’s emotional scenes, delivering a great performance worthy of his peers. For those interested in Vegas casinos and the work of Scorsese, this is worth a look.
8 The Gambler (1974) – 80%
With the late great James Caan as the main character, The player follows a literature professor who loses all his money to his gambling addiction. He scrounges, borrows from everyone he loves, but he can’t resist risking it all for a thrill.
With two cinema legends in the main roles, The player is a stylish ’70s drama bolstered by standout performances from both Sorvino and Caan. The story remains timeless, so much so that a successful (but arguably inferior) remake was released in 2014.
seven The Panic in Needle Park (1971) – 80%
With Al Pacino in the lead role, Panic in Needle Park is Paul Sorvino’s second film acting credit. It follows a group of young people, all addicted to heroin, who frequent “Needle Park” (Sherman Square) in New York.
Controversial for its realistic depictions of drug use and violence, Panic in Needle Park pushes the boundaries (and the buttons) in the best possible way. The performances are all first-class, even from an up-and-coming Sorvino, who makes a brief but impactful appearance as Samuels.
6 Cheaters (2000) – 80%
A made-for-TV movie with an all-star cast, Cheaters is much better than it has a right to be. The film follows a group of students who, with the help of their teacher, plan to cheat in an academic competition.
Sorvino stars as Constantine Kiamos, the man who appoints the teacher with the challenge of coaching the academic team and remains oblivious to his new plans. It’s a great performance, one that will have the audience begging that they never find out. Cheaters is deliciously rebellious, and the kids will love it.
5 Where is dad ? (1970) – 82%
Paul Sorvino makes his big screen debut in Where is dad ?, a dark comedy starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon. The film follows a lawyer who meets a girl and falls in love, but fears her mother will talk her out of it. As a result, he devises a plot to kill her.
A first-rate black comedy, Where is dad ? is full of acting veterans at their best. Sorvino plays the role of the owner of a dwelling house and even in his early days manages to compete with the masters of the craft. The humor is absurd and deeply cynical, which works with the disturbing but despicable nature of Segal’s neurotic lawyer.
4 A Touch of Class (1973) – 83%
Bringing together George Segal and Paul Sorvino, A touch of class is a romantic comedy about a secret tryst between Steve Blackburn of Segal and his lover, Vickie Allessio (Glenda Jackson). However, things don’t go so well for the couple as back issues and parenthood hamper their bond.
Sorvino appears as Walter Menkes, who is brilliant as he tries to figure out the issues in his own relationships. Its comedic musings are enhanced by a clever screenplay, written by Melvin Frank. A sharp romantic comedy about forbidden love and the challenges that come with it, A touch of class is a great choice for fans of less superficial romance movies.
3 Reds (1981) – 90%
A sprawling epic reuniting Sorvino again with Beatty, Reds follows the intimate story of an American journalist who travels to Russia to report on the Bolsheviks, only to return a revolutionary. Ultimately, his politics cause rifts in his interpersonal relationships and he must decide what is most important.
Sorvino appears as Louis C. Fraina, founding member of the American Communist Party, and performs his role with dignity and respect. What could have passed for a parody, or an insult, is on the contrary deeply human. With a colossal duration of 3h15, Reds is by no means easy to watch, but it is one of the great films about journalism, and it has a place in movie history as one of the greatest of all time.
2 Goodfellas (1990) – 96%
The definitive Scorsese movie, Freedmen follows Henry Hill (late Ray Liotta), a young man who wants to be a mobster, as he strives to rise through the ranks and build his reputation, oblivious to the pain he is causing as he takes advantage of a life of luxury.
Sorvino stars as Paul Cicero, and fans will no doubt recognize him from the famous prison kitchen scene, in which Cicero chops onions. Although he is not the lead actor, he lends his support to make a great movie a masterpiece. A classic of American cinema, Freedmen is a must for all movie buffs.
1 Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2015) – 100%
Although unknown to the general public, Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival has become a cult classic. The plot follows Lucifer as he sets in motion a dangerous plot against the Heavens. As a result, all hell – literally – breaks loose.
A crazy musical of epic proportions, the movie is unabashedly crazy, and it’s glorious. Sorvino plays the role of God, and his booming presence makes his appearance ridiculously memorable. It’s packed with wildly inventive toe-tapping songs, and the set design is maximalist in the best possible way. For fans of Rocky Horror Picture Showit’s the best thing to do.
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