If you’ve seen any mob movie made in the last five decades, then you realize that mafia marriages are riddled with crime, adultery, drug use, and eventually divorce. It would seem that a life of crime makes a person a horrible husband, and those horrible husbands tend to attract horrible wives. It’s all kinds of fun when it’s put on the screen. Here are my picks for the nine worst mob movie marriages.
I gladly would’ve included a lot of the earlier, classic mob movies, but those gangsters apparently weren’t allowed to have wives. At best, they had a steady stream of unsavory dames or broads or what have you. These are listed in a loose order, mostly ranked in reverse order by the depth of depravity that occurs between the couples.
Joe and Maggie Pistone, Donnie Brasco (1997)
Joe Pistone was so good at absorbing the role of Donnie Brasco, the dangerous mobster, that it ended up being more than his wife could take. The protracted absences certainly didn’t help matters, and before you could say “fugazi”, she had divorced him.
Fredo and Deanna Corleone, The Godfather: Part II (1974)
We barely saw these two mob lovebirds married, but the few minutes of Fredo and Deanna that we saw were more than enough to recognize that it belongs on this list. Fredo was so weak and ineffectual that his wife didn’t bat an eyelash at embarrassing him, very publicly, in front of his family. The “extended” family even had to step in to bring Fredo’s life back in order.
Benjamin and Esta Siegel, Bugsy (1991)
The fact that most of the movie is about Benjamin Siegel’s relationship with a woman who isn’t his wife speaks volumes. That the overwhelming majority of the movie takes place with his wife all the way across the country says even more. This was a horrible marriage, one that thankfully ended in divorce.
Henry and Karen Hill, Goodfellas (1990)
On the surface, this seems like a total disaster as a marriage. She did, after all, have a gun pointed at him after a whole lot of adultery. But by the end of the movie, everything was smoothed over and they could live their lives as a sort of cocaine-addicted Burns and Allen. There’s no doubt that it was a rough marriage, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the others.
Tom Powers and Kitty, Public Enemy (1931)
I’m cheating by including this, because these two weren’t married in the film. Kitty was merely Tom’s girlfriend at the time. But how could I exclude a couple so rotten that the guy smashed a grapefruit in the girl’s face, thereby creating movie magic that seems horribly inappropriate 80 years later?
Ace and Ginger Rothstein, Casino (1995)
How bad was this marriage? Ginger slept with Ace’s best friend, and left her kid tied to a bed so she could go party, free from the gaze of his watchful eye. She left her own kid tied to a bed, for crying out loud.
Carlo and Connie Rizzi, The Godfather: Part I (1972)
My apologies for including multiple Corleones on the list, but you really would be hard pressed to think of many worse mob movie marriages. The irony is that Connie’s, Michael’s, and Fredo’s parents- Vito and Carmela- had a very harmonious marriage. And yet, their kids all sucked at fostering good marriages. In this case, the marriage was so bad that Connie’s brother, Sonny, had to beat the crap out of Carlo to keep him from beating his own wife, who he derisively called a “spoiled guinea brat.” It’s a good thing Connie’s other brother, Michael, was a good divorce lawyer of sorts.
Cody and Verna Jarrett, White Heat (1949)
The problem here, in a story that foreshadowed The Sopranos, was Cody’s mother issues. It reached a boiling point when Verna whacked her own mother-in-law, thereby putting the fun back in “dysfunctional family”.
Michael and Kay Corleone, The Godfather: Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
I excluded the third film only because they were divorced by then, and weren’t even that angry with one another by that point. However, their scenes in the first two films were brutal, with Kay famously standing on the outside, watching the man she fell in love with descend into murderous madness and power. It was a marriage so rancid that Kay aborted Michael’s child.