Fathers and Sons

Barack Obama says ‘I wish I’d had a father’
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones in Chicago and Jon Swaine
The Telegraph, 16 Feb 2013

Obama-FatherIn an unusually personal speech at a school in his old Chicago eighbourhood, Mr Obama, who was raised by his mother, said his attempts to introduce new gun control laws must be matched by more men behaving like role models who are “held up in respect” by their sons, grandsons and nephews.
“There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood,” said Mr Obama.
Hailing his “heroic” late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, “who gave everything she had to raise me”, “At the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved”.
Barack Obama senior, a Kenyan economist, divorced Ms Dunham in 1964, three years after the birth of their son. A heavy drinker, he died in a 1982 car accident, 11 years after he last saw Barack junior.

“Finally he is beginning a national conversation on the issue, which is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Mr Holt, whose 16-year-old son, Blair, was shot in 2007 on a school bus along with four other teenagers.
“We need to take illegal firearms away from the gangs,” he said. “But we also need to address the dysfunctional, poor parenting which is a key part of the culture of violence.”


Robert De Niro breaks down in tears
during TV interview about mental illness themes in ‘Silver Lining Playbook’
By Ethan Sacks, Daily News 5-2-2013

Niro-2013It was a jarring sight, considering Robert De Niro is best known for playing tough as nails characters in movies like “Mean Streets,” “Heat,” “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull.” One of the toughest guys in Hollywood history broke down in tears during a TV interview Monday.
Appearing with his “Silver Linings Playbook” co-star Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell on Monday’s “Katie”, Robert De Niro immediatelly welled up when the show’s host asked him about acting in a film that puts a spotlight on mental illness.
“Did you feel a greater responsibility about doing a film that David had so much personally invested in,” Katie Couric asked, referring to Russell’s own son’s battle with bipolar disorder.
“Of course, I understand,” began De Niro… But that’s as far as the 69-year-old actor could manage before the tears started.
“I don’t like to get emotional, but I know exactly what he goes through…”

De Niro told the News in December that his personal life involved a child with emotional problems.
“If you’re a father, you certainly understand what it’s like to go through the worry about your kids, especially if they’ve got issues like Bradley’s character has,” De Niro told the News at the time. “Sometimes it can be overwhelming. It can be nightmarish and upsetting. There’s nothing much you can do but deal with it.”


De Niro: Obama has inspired me

Robert De Niro was born and raised in Manhattan, New York.
De Niro’s father was raised a Catholic, but when little Robbie was two years old, his father announced that he was gay and his parents got a divorce.
His mother was raised Presbyterian but quickly confirmed that she was an atheist upon adulthood.
De Niro’s parents did not want him baptized into the Catholic Church, but during their divorce, he stayed with his devoutly Catholic grandparents who had him baptized in secret. …
He has been known to get heavily involved in U.S. politics, however, and when he does it is only for the Democratic Party. … In 2008, De Niro spoke at an Obama rally, saying: I’ve never made a speech like this at a political event before. So, what am I doing here? Finally, one person has inspired me. Guess who. Obama, that’s who!


Interview Douglas Thompson

robert-de-niro-thompson‘My childhood? The people I love still live in Little Italy and I love to see them them.’
‘My parents divorced when I was two but they stayed friends…. My father used to take me to a lot of movies. Around the age of ten I knew I wanted to be an actor.

‘Later, at one of the acting schools the director asked me why I wanted to be an actor. I told him I didn’t know.
He said: ”You want to be an actor to express yourself.” And later on when I got into acting seriously I remembered this and said that is the reason I want to be an actor — to express myself.
‘I believe the only way anybody will become anything is to become fully what he is and do what he wants to do.’

‘I certainly know the difference between right and wrong but I think in our American tradition the bad guys get a lot of attention and you see it in the movies.’ ‘There is a certain amount of glamour, a certain allure that they have but we always have to remember to put it in the right perspective of what they represent…”

A Bronx Tale: Tiny Audiences

Robert de Niro made his debut as a director with ‘A Bronx Tale’ six years ago and it got respectful reviews but tiny audiences.

A Bronx Tale is a 1993 film about a young man growing up in the 1960’s during a time that was turbulent due to the civil rights issues of the 60’s. The movie follows the young man’s path in life as he is guided by two father figures, played by De Niro (Lorenzo) and Chazz Palminteri (Sonny).


A Walk and a Talk with Robert De Niro
by Peter Brant and Ingrid Sischy.

‘Interview first’ interviewed the notoriously sphinx-like De Niro in November of 1993 to discuss his directorial debut, A Bronx Tale. He dedicated the movie to his dad.

Niro-1BRANT: Bobby, did your parents have any problem with your wanting to be an actor?

DE NIRO: Not at all. They were both supportive. They would never tell me no. My mother worked for a woman, Maria Ley-Piscator, who with her husband founded the Dramatic Workshop, which was connected to the New School. … I was able to take acting classes there on Saturdays when I was 10. It was a big school with a lot of actors…

SISCHY: Did going to acting classes make things difficult for you and with your friends?

DE NIRO: Actually, most of my friends were O.K. about it. Sometimes you figured the kids would make fun if they came to a play that you were in, so I would never even think of having them come.

SISCHY: Did watching your father try to make it as an artist have any effect on you?

DE NIRO: I saw how he was living, and so on. Struggling, I guess, for want of a better word. He led a classic New York artist’s life, in a loft, always downtown — Great Jones Street, West Broadway, Bleecker Street. What we know and SoHo and NoHo today was mostly industrial in those days.

SISCHY: Did you grow up in SoHo?

DE NIRO: Well, I always lived in the Village, but I would go to see my father. He was separated from my mother.

SISCHY: Your first movie as director, A Bronx Tale, has just come out. I notice you dedicated it to your father.

DE NIRO: Well, he passed away in May, so I thought it would be a nice thing to do — and the movie’s about fathers and sons. I love his art. I’m very proud of it, but I wasn’t an art enthusiast the way he was. It was his whole life. …

SISCHY: One of the strong themes of this film for me is the subject of racism and people who are trying to cross racial barriers. … Was that theme especially important to you?

DE NIRO: I liked the whole thing, because it was so rich. But, of course, that part attracted me. … There was this talk about cutting out the whole Calogero-Jane love-story. People would say, “Just make it between a father and a son — that’s really a story in itself,” which it was.

BRANT: Something really happens there — not just visually but in the way you use the music.

DE NIRO: Music to me is so important, especially the music of that time. It was a great opportunity to put these old songs in, but I wanted to make sure I got the right ones.
“I Only Have Eyes for You” is something I thought of for when these kids meet. The father listens to a jazz version, and the kid hears a riff from it and says, “Do we have to listen to this music? It gives me a headache.” Then as soon as Calogero sees Jane, it goes into a black doowop group singing it a cappella, then the “I Only Have Eyes for You” theme, and finally the Flamingos’ version, which is really great.


Bronx Tale Trailer

I only have eyes for you


A Bronx Tale: Quotes

Calogero ‘C’ Anello: [as C walks out of Sonny’s funeral] Sonny and my father always said that when I get older I would understand. Well, I finally did. I learned something from these two men. I learned to give love and get love unconditionally. You just have to accept people for what they are, and I learned the greatest gift of all. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever.

Sonny: First of all, I respect you, Lorenzo, … but don’t ever talk to me like that again. I tell yor kid to go to school, to go to college…
Lorenzo: You don’t understand: it’s not what you say, it’s what he sees, the clothes, the cars, the money, it’s everything. He tried to throw away his baseball cards because he said Mickey Mantle will never pay the rent.
Sonny: [laughs] He said that to you? I don’t believe this kid.
Lorenzo: That’s not funny. Not when your kid has a bigger bank account than you.
Sonny: I offered you a job, you said “No” to me.
Lorenzo: That’s right, and I say “No” now. Just leave my son alone, please.
Sonny: Hey! [Stands up]
Sonny: Don’t you see how I treat that kid? I treat him like he’s my son.
Lorenzo: He ain’t your son, he’s MY son.
Sonny: He’s what?
Lorenzo: He’s MY son!
Sonny: What are you gonna do, fight me?
Lorenzo: You stay away from my son!
Sonny: Get outta here before I give you a fucking slap!
Lorenzo: You just stay away from my son!
Sonny: Go ahead!
Lorenzo: I don’t care who you are! You stay away from my son!
[the gangsters force him out of the bar]

A Bronx Tale, featuring “A man’s world”


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