When the now-classic Goodfellas was released nationwide 25 years ago on Sept. 21, 1990, it wasn’t the only mob movie on the block.
As Richard Corliss noted in a review of the lot for TIME, Goodfellas shared the multiplexes with such movies as Miller’s Crossing to The Godfather Part III. The reason, he suggested, had less to do with any cultural factor than it did with a few particular Hollywood preferences:
And of those powerful artists, Martin Scorsese got top billing. Though Corliss dinged him for his reliance on exposition in a movie in which “characters don’t grow or learn, they just get found out,” Goodfellas still ranked as “the fastest, sharpest 2 1/2-hr. ride in recent film history.”
Read the full review, here in the TIME Vault: Married to the Mob