101 Funniest Screenplays

A wiseguy in the Deep South is the fish-out-of-water premise, but only partly so. Vinny Gambini isn’t a gangster, he’s a lawyer who needed six tries to pass the New York bar and now has to get his college-aged cousin and friend out of a murder charge in small-town Alabama. Much of the film unfolds as a courtroom procedural, unique for a comedy, and a badge of pride for screenwriter Dale Launer. “That movie is used routinely in law schools, because the movie is actually an accurate representation of what you do in court,” Launer told the podcast “TV Confidential.” Joe Pesci is the criminal defense lawyer Vinny Gambini, Marisa Tomei his gum-chewing girlfriend (in an Oscar-winning performance) and Fred Gywnn as a Yale-educated Southern judge who schools Vinny in the ways of jurisprudence and courtroom etiquette.