According to Hill, the central figure in of Nicholas Pileggi’s tell-all non-fiction book Wiseguy, upon which Goodfellas is based, “We usually gave a guy a party when he got out. Food. Booze. Hookers. It’s a good time.” Batts’ party, though, would have serious repercussions for many of its guests. And for Batts himself, the consequences would prove fatal.
In the famous movie scene Batts, played by Frank Vincent, clearly drunk and in an arrogant frame of mind, sneeringly reminds one of the mobsters present of his humble roots. “This kid is great,” says Batts. “They used to call him spit-shine Tommy.” DeSimone, who was renamed DeVito in the film, takes umbrage at the dig at his shoe-shining past. But after a heated exchange the ex-con tells DeSimone to “go and get your f**king shine box.”
DeSimone, portrayed with frightening fervor by Joe Pesci, decides that the older man has crossed a line. As a result, Hill and Burke – whose name was changed to Conway for the movie – have to physically restrain the slighted gangster in an attempt to defuse a dangerous situation. Once the diminutive DeSimone has exited, though, the party continues and the incident is seemingly forgotten.