De Niro takes a confident stab at familiar material in his first film as director. He plays an unassuming bus driver, a straight-arrow good father, appalled when son Calogero (Capra at 9, Brancato at 17) falls under the influence of local wiseguy Sonny. The first hour or so, set in 1960, is a delight. De Niro knows the flavour inside out. He gets the music right, the speech rhythms and the faces - and a largely unknown cast does wonders. Despite a charismatic performance from Chazz Palminteri (author of the play from which the film is drawn), Sonny is, however, just too good to be true: a Mafia kingpin, who comes on more like a radical priest, steering young 'C' away from racism, sexism and guns. When the scene switches to 1968, problems become more pronounced: C falls for a black girl (Hicks), and has to choose between his crazy pals and his own heart. Not an unalloyed success, but the performances and youthful vigour make up for the somewhat clumsy structure.