De Felitta, Raymond 1964-
De FELITTA, Raymond 1964-
CAREER: Screenwriter, director, producer, and actor. Actor in films, including (as piano player) Mad at the Moon, Republic, 1992; (as lab security; credited as Ray DeFelitta) New Rose Hotel, Rose Releasing, 1998; and (as Mr. Brazer) Joe the King, Trimark, 1999. Killer in the Mirror (made-for-television movie), assistant to producer, 1986.
AWARDS, HONORS: Academy Award nomination, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for Bronx Cheers; Nicholl fellowship, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1991, for Begin the Beguine; Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival, 2000, for Two-Family House.
(And director and producer) Bronx Cheers (short film), 1990.
(And director) Café Society, The Screening Room, 1995.
Shadow of Doubt (also known as Reasonable Doubt), Reasonable Doubt Productions, 1998.
(And director) Two-Family House, Lions Gate Films, 2000.
Also the author of unproduced screenplays, including Begin the Beguine and City Desk.
WORK IN PROGRESS: City Desk, a novel based on De Felitta's screenplay of the same name.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer and director Raymond de Felitta is probably best known for the award-winning film Two-Family House, a movie that "bathes a very specific time, place, class, and ethnic experience—that of working-class Italian-American New Yorkers on Staten Island in 1956—with a warm, clear light," Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote in Entertainment Weekly. Loosely based on the story of de Felitta's uncle Buddy, Two-Family House is about a working-class man, Buddy, who is thwarted in his dream to become a famous singer by his narrow-minded fiancee, Estelle, who can't imagine how blue-collar Italian-Americans like themselves could ever be anything but working class. After marrying and moving in with his wife's family, Buddy tries a variety of business ventures, but all fail. Finally, he hits on one he thinks will not only be successful, but will give him a chance to fulfill his dream to sing: he will buy a two-family house, he and Estelle will live upstairs, and downstairs he can open his own bar, where he can sing to his heart's content. Buddy does indeed buy a ramshackle two-family house, but the purchase includes two problem tenants: a hard-drinking, abusive Irishman named Jim and his much younger, very pregnant, also Irish wife, Mary. The two will neither pay rent nor move out, so Buddy and his friends go to evict them. However, the stress of this sends Mary into labor, and the half-black child she gives birth to causes quite a scandal in the rigidly segregated neighborhood. Buddy is the only one with any sympathy for her, and she, it seems, is the only one who understands his dreams. Certainly, Estelle does not: as the movie progresses, she moves from being skeptical of Buddy's schemes to working actively to prevent them from succeeding. As a romance develops between Mary and Buddy, "Two-Family House turns into a film about being comfortable, knowing who you are and then being forced to give it all up to do something right," Dave McCoy explained in the Seattle Times.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 36, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), October 6, 2000, Glenn Whipp, review of Two-Family House, p. L15.
Daily Variety, March 6, 2002, Charles Vyons, "InDigEng Builds 'Playhouse,'" p. 20.
Denver Post, October 22, 2000, Steven Rosen, review of Two-Family House, p. I01.
Entertainment Weekly, October 27, 2000, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Two-Family House, p. 88.
Interview, October, 2000, Guy Flatley, review of Two-Family House, p. 106; November, 2000, Graham Fuller, review of Two-Family House, p. 106.
Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2000, Kevin Thomas, review of Two-Family House, p. F20; October 7, 2000, Richard Natale, review of Two-Family House, p. F14.
New York Times, July 18, 1997, Stephen Holden, review of Café Society, p. C16; October 6, 2000, Lawrence Van Gelder, review of Two-Family House, p. E20; June 1, 2001, Lawrence Van Gelder, review of Two-Family House, p. B24.
Premiere, December, 2000, Aimee Agresti, review of Two-Family House, p. 66.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2000, Carla Meyer, review of Two-Family House, p. C1.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 27, 2000, Sean Axmaker, review of Two-Family House, p. 36.
Seattle Times, October 27, 2000, Dave McCoy, review of Two-Family House, p. J4.
US Weekly, October 16, 2000, Andrew Johnson, review of Two-Family House, p. 40.
Variety, June 5, 1995, Todd McCarthy, review of Café Society, pp. 38-39; January 31, 2000, Joe Leydon, review of Two-Family House, p. 35.
SPLICEDwire,http://www.splicedonline.com/ (April 11, 2003), Rob Blackwelder, "All in da 'Family.'"*