The introduction is shocking to a normal audience, not accustomed to such unreasoned, excessive violence, drawing them immediately into the film, particularly as they realize the reaction of Henry.
Throughout this violent opening action, Henry is standing back watching with a somewhat reluctant look on his face, only coming forward when the man is obviously dead to passively shut the hood of the trunk. It is at this moment that we hear Henry’s voice saying “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” and the movie is overrun with the sounds of the song “Rags to Riches” as the opening credits roll and the movie tracks back in time to 1955. Henry’s reaction begins to establish a different approach to life that must be taken by the gangster while the song illustrates the reasons why someone would choose this type of lifestyle. But the numb expression on his face as he closes the trunk indicates Henry didn’t realize just what kind of individual he would become when he made his choice to be a gangster.
While he doesn’t lend a hand in the murder of Billy Batts, the man in the trunk who will be introduced more toward the middle of the movie when the beginning of this scene actually occurs, Henry’s only reaction to the beating of Batts is to lock the door to prevent anyone else from entering and stands back along the side of the road to allow the vicious murder to be finished off. Tommy, aided by Jimmy, quickly works to eliminate the rest of their partners in crime as each one fails his word. . The systematic murder of each of the partners in the crime is cemented to the use of the “Frosty the Snowman” song as each of the murders is undertaken with a detached, almost humorous style, the final death illustrated and narrated as Frankie Carbone, killed by hanging him up in the back of a long-distance refrigerated meat wagon, was so frozen by the time he was discovered in the truck that it took him two days to thaw out for the autopsy.