Joe Pesci's first starring role is not as a "street guy" from Little Italy but a Jewish guy from New Jersey (though the Garden state looks mysteriously more like the Big Apple throughout this venture) who wants to be an Italian lounge singer. Well, he's not Italian, and he does not perform in a Lounge - but a bowling alley - the crash of the cymbals competes with the crash of bowling pins. [Interestingly enough, JP did start out with Franki Valli's group in NJ in such a venue!]. But it's not all that sad a situation: the guy has a great band and he can sing! In fact, good enough to attract the attention of Tony Martin - who does a nice cameo.
Frank Vincent is on the scene as a buddy from the old neighborhood who went in another direction - he converts legitimate businesses into, shall we say, quasi-legitimate ones. And when Pesci's business goes flat, guess who shows up with...friends? Including an attractive lady who coincidentally wants to break into show business. Will she and Ruby hit it off?
Fans of Scorsese films will enjoy watching this generally solid, though low-key 1982 affair, (first released domestically about ten years later, apparently) as it includes many faces from many familiar films, most notably Goodfellas and Casino.
A low-budget production still yields some very engrossing moments; Pesci's performance is excellent though surprisingly subdued save for a couple of spots - those who love his explosive characters from the prior Raging Bull and other movies may find the adjustment somewhat uncomfortable. Possibly a quirk of direction; or a stylistic choice of understatement. It's a bit lamentable that he and Vincent do not have many scenes together, however.
An oscar-worthy performance comes through the character of Ruby's long-suffering sister, expertly played by Shakesperean actress Karen Ludwig, who is at the end of her rope supporting Ruby's lodgings...and his Las Vegas "dream". Her dreams are more localized.
Picture and sound quality are not outstanding but not unexpected in the low-budget "Cult Classic" genre. I enjoyed this. (Bought two!).