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17 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "My Cousin Vinny"

Everything that guy just said is bullshit.

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1. The screenwriter's first choice for Vinny Gambini was Robert DeNiro.

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At the time, DeNiro was known for his serious roles, and, according to screenwriter Dale Launer, the studio president didn't think he'd be able to carry a comedy. (Funny now, considering the success of the Meet the Parents franchise.)

2. Joe Pesci drew on memories of different men from his old New Jersey neighborhood for his performance as Vinny.

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3. The famous "yutes" scene was included after Joe Pesci and director Jonathan Lynn had an almost identical exchange — Lynn being unable to understand what Pesci was trying to say.

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4. Director Jonathan Lynn got an M.A. in law from Cambridge University, and therefore insisted on the movie's legal accuracy.

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5. He also sat in on a murder trial in Monticello, Georgia, as part of his research.

He said he "picked up some nice phrases" which ended up in the film — including D.A. Jim Trotter's comment about their "little old ancestors" in "Old England" in front of black members of the jury.
Twentieth Century Fox

He said he "picked up some nice phrases" which ended up in the film — including D.A. Jim Trotter's comment about their "little old ancestors" in "Old England" in front of black members of the jury.

6. The American Bar Association ranked My Cousin Vinny #3 in its list of 25 Greatest Legal Movies.

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

And clips from it are regularly shown in law school classrooms.

7. Vinny was originally supposed to be a bag man for the mob.

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Twentieth Century Fox

Launer told Abnormal Use, "He was supposed to be a big tough guy who seemed a little dopey, but he’s not dopey."

8. He's also supposed to be dyslexic.

Launer explained the original script showed close-ups of the text the way Vinny saw it: all jumbled up. It also included dialogue in which Mona Lisa offers to read the files to him, but the part was cut. This was supposed to explain why it took Vinny so many attempts before passing the bar.
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Launer explained the original script showed close-ups of the text the way Vinny saw it: all jumbled up. It also included dialogue in which Mona Lisa offers to read the files to him, but the part was cut. This was supposed to explain why it took Vinny so many attempts before passing the bar.

9. Marisa's iconic "biological clock" scene wasn't in the first draft of the script.

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According to Launer, the studio president requested a scene showing Mona Lisa complaining about not getting enough attention. Though Launer was resistant at first (he called the suggestion "a tired old cliche" and a "boring" scene) he ended up using the extra screen time to make the character even more developed.

10. Danny DeVito and Jim Belushi were both considered for the role of Vinny before the studio went to Joe Pesci.

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11. And Will Smith was originally up for the role of Stan Rothenstein, the anxious sidekick played by Mitchell Whitfield.

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12. The studio wanted to cut Mona Lisa from the movie entirely.

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It was the "biological clock" scene that saved the character.

13. The prison scenes were shot in a real prison, and in the scene where Stan and Bill are walking to their cells, those are real prisoners shouting at them.

According to Mitchell Whitfield: "They really were yelling at us. They had to tone it down with what they put in the movie because they were saying some horrible stuff. Ralph and I were petrified."
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According to Mitchell Whitfield: "They really were yelling at us. They had to tone it down with what they put in the movie because they were saying some horrible stuff. Ralph and I were petrified."

14. In 1998, Joe Pesci released an album in character, called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You.

Really.
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15. Director Jonathan Lynn has said that the movie, despite being a comedy, is primarily about "how wrong capital punishment is."

In an interview with Abnormal Use he said, "I am profoundly opposed to capital punishment, and I think the film makes that statement. Although it makes it entertaining and in a way that isn’t preaching to people."
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In an interview with Abnormal Use he said, "I am profoundly opposed to capital punishment, and I think the film makes that statement. Although it makes it entertaining and in a way that isn’t preaching to people."

16. A screenplay for a sequel exists, but chances of it going into production are slim.

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According Dale Launer, by the time both Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci agreed to be part of it, the studio was no longer interested.

17. Super fans can take a My Cousin Vinny road trip around Georgia and see some of the filming locations — including the recently renovated Sac-O-Suds convenience store.

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The blog "Road Trip Memories" tells you exactly where to go to see Sac-O-Suds, Monticello town square, the courthouse, and more.

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