Myth Trivia: Fun facts about the movie comedy “My Cousin Vinny”

It isn't often an actor wins an Academy Award for a performance in a comedy, but Marisa Tomei did it in 1992 for her role as Mona Lisa Vito. That and more trivia from My Cousin Vinny


CHARLOTTE, NC, June 14, 2017 – It’s hump day. Time to take a break from the Sessions sessions and anti-Trumpmania to talk about the lighter side of life. Today, our trivia looks at one of the classic film comedies of all time, “My Cousin Vinny.”

Today, our trivia looks at one of the classic film comedies of all time, “My Cousin Vinny.”

It isn’t often an actor wins an Academy Award for a performance in a comedy, but Marisa Tomei did it in 1992 for her role as Mona Lisa Vito.

Ironically, a rumor at the time circulated saying that Jack Palance had read out the wrong name and that Tomei did not win for Best Supporting Actress. As with many rumors, it turned out to be a false, but in 2017 the Best Picture Oscar was first awarded to “La La Land” when the actual winner was “Moonlight.”

As for Marisa Tomei, the actress briefly lost her Oscar in 2002 when she moved into a new house. It was later recovered.

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If you talk to attorneys who have watched “My Cousin Vinny” many of them say the courtroom scenes are about as accurate as you can get for its presentation of trial strategy.

Believe it or not, the American Bar Association’s publication, “The ABA Journal”, ranks the film third in its list of the “25 Greatest Legal Movies.” One reason could be the fact that director Jonathan Lynn, who does have a law degree, insisted that the courtroom scenes be a realistic as possible to actual legal proceedings.

Watch closely at the end of the movie where Vinny (Joe Pesci) and Lisa are in a restaurant talking about Lisa’s pictures. During the conversation, a mint green convertible, one source of much of the film’s plot, drives past the window.

One of the funniest scenes in the film occurs when Vinny and Judge Haller (Fred Gwynne) have a conversation about the word “youts.” Being from the UK, director Jonathan Lynn had difficulty understanding Joe Pesci’s pronunciation of the word “youths.” Lynn decided Pesci’s New Jersey accent was worth adding a sidebar into the dialogue. It worked and the discussion about “youts” and “youths” has since become a memorable bit of Hollywood banter.

Several scenes were modified from actual courtroom events including the discussion between the prosecutor (Lane Smith) and an expert witness regarding automotive equipment.

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When asked how he came to his conclusion about the evidence, the witness replies, “I have a dual-column gas chromatograph, Hewlett-Packard model 5710a with flame analyzing detectors.”

In an attempt to be humorous, the D.A. asks, “Does that thing come turbo-charged?”

To which the expert answers, “Only on the floor models.”

In another scene where the stuttering court-appointed attorney played by John Gibbons, attempts to give his opening statement, the two defendants and Joe Pesci can be seen in the background trying to hold back their laughter.

Sheriff Farley (Bruce McGill) returns to the courtroom near the end of the movie to announce that two young men had been apprehended in Jasper County, Georgia. Real-life sheriff, “Mack” Tillman worked as a consultant on the film and the reference to Jasper County, where much of the production was shot, was a tribute to him for his assistance.

When Lisa talks to Vinny about torque specifications by NASA and Cal Tech, he asks her how she can be sure of their accuracy. Lisa replies, “Because a split second before the torque wrench was applied to the faucet handle, it had been calibrated by top members of the state AND federal Department of Weights and Measures… to be dead on balls accurate!”

Though it was an inside joke for the actors, there is a real-life attorney named Joey Callo, who did use the “dead on balls accurate” phrase during a trial. One of the pseudonyms Vinny uses in the film is Jerry Callow supposedly being confused with Jerry Gallow who happened to be dead.

Though “My Cousin Vinny” takes place in Alabama, most of the movie was shot in Georgia where the Sac-O-Suds convenience store actually does exist.

And so as Vincent LaGuardia Gambini would say, “I’m done wit’ dis guy.”

Until next time, the defense rests.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

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