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Two Family House is a 2000 film. It was written and directed by Raymond De Felitta (Café Society). The film won the Audience Award at Sundance 2000. Many of the film's actors later reached national prominence as part of the HBO cable television series The Sopranos, including Michael Rispoli, Kathrine Narducci, Matt Servitto, Vincent Pastore and Joseph R. Gannascoli (Jackie Aprile, Sr., Charmaine Bucco, Agent Harris, Big Pussy, and Vito Spatafore, respectively, on The Sopranos). The songs on the film's soundtrack were done by John Pizzarelli and his trio, a jazz recording artist.

Plot

An unseen narrator looks back to the year 1956, on Staten Islandmarker in New Yorkmarker, to one Buddy Visalo (Rispoli), an Italian guy with "Ralph Kramdenesque" dreams. Buddy is a wannabe crooner (with a voiceover provided by Andrew Poretz). Buddy had nearly been discovered by Arthur Godfrey ten years earlier (shown in flashback) when he performed at a USO show while in the service. His fiancée, Estelle (Narducci), gave him a Hobson's choice: “Who's it gonna be, Buddy, Arthur Godfrey or me?” In a decision he’ll live to regret the rest of his life, he chooses Estelle, and over the next 10 years tries all sorts of schemes to get ahead. “I just wanna be somebody!” he’ll declare.

Italian-American Buddy decides to buy a dilapidated two-family house in the Irish section of town, intending to live upstairs with his wife Estelle and run a bar downstairs, where he could live out a smaller version of his dream, singing along to a "Music Minus One" jukebox (a precursor to karaoke). Estelle has no confidence in Buddy, just wants a “normal” blue-collar husband, and manages to undermine his plans time and time again. He discovers, to his dismay and her horror, that the upstairs Irish tenants, a drunken, violent older man (played by Kevin Conway) and his very pregnant young wife (played by Kelly Macdonald of Trainspotting fame) refuse to move and won't pay rent.

When the baby is born, it's clear his father was black – and the much older, Irish husband immediately skulks off, knowing it's not his child. Buddy evicts mother and child, then feels guilt and sets her up in a flat while she sorts out an adoption. Estelle's lack of faith, the small-minded prejudices and low ambitions of his “friends,” the Irish lass's spirit, Buddy's dream, racial prejudice, and the baby's fate (he grows up to be the narrator of the movie) play out.

Trivia

  • The song "Lonely For You", sung in the movie by Buddy as well as jazz singer John Pizzarelli (who also has a cameo as Arthur Godfrey), was written by the director's father, film director Frank De Filitta, over 40 years earlier, but had never been otherwise recorded.


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