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The Valachi Papers (1972)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  6 January 1972 (France)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 1,842 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 11 critic

When Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) has a price put on his head by Don Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura), he must take desperate steps to protect himself while in prison. An unsuccessful attempt ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Maria Reina Valachi
Walter Chiari ...
Gap
...
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ...
Ryan (as Gerald O'Loughlin)
Amedeo Nazzari ...
Gaetano Reina
Fausto Tozzi ...
Pupella Maggio ...
Letizia Reina
Angelo Infanti ...
Guido Leontini ...
Tony Bender
María Baxa ...
Donna
Mario Pilar ...
Salierno
Franco Borelli ...
Buster
Alessandro Sperli ...
Giuseppe 'Joe the Boss' Masseria (as Alessandro Sperlì)
Edit

Storyline

When Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) has a price put on his head by Don Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura), he must take desperate steps to protect himself while in prison. An unsuccessful attempt to slit his throat puts him over the edge to break the sacred code of silence. Written by Richard Jones <rjo339@swbell.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The syndicate. Genovese. Anastasia. Luciano. Masseria. Lucchese. Maranzano. The way they lived - The way they died. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 January 1972 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Cosa Nostra  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Cosa Nostra", the Italian criminal syndicate in Sicily, which is also known as "The Mafia", translates into the English language as "Our Thing". Director Terence Young commented that "actually, the word 'Mafia' is never used by Italians because it is a word used only by outsiders. Italians talk about it as the Cosa Nostra, and we show how it came into being". Young stated that the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" were both used on the movie's sound track. Moreover, Young maintained at the time of the film's launch that Joseph Valachi was "the only time when an insider in the Cosa Nostra broke his oath and told his story". See more »

Goofs

During a car chase scene, the cameras back out too far from the antique cars, and you can see modern (circa late 60's - early 70's)cars in the street with them. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bob Newhart Show: Old Man Rivers (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Biographic movie about a notorious informer who broke the sacred code of silence , Omertá .
21 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

This picture is plenty of mayhem , strong stuff , drama and amount of gangland violence . A biography heavily influenced by Valachi memoirs and by interviews was written by journalist Peter Maas and published in 1968 as The Valachi Papers, forming the basis for this film . The flick deals with tough Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) , he has a price put on his head by Don Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura) who is in prison and from there, he still runs his criminal empire . An unsuccessful attempt to slit his throat puts him over the edge to die . Valachi must take desperate steps to protect himself while in prison. Because of the bounty on his head from his own, a federal agent named Ryan (Gerald O'Loughlin) convinces Valachi really to be a mob informant in return for safety inside . Valachi tells a story that starts in 1929, when he was first imprisoned in Sing Sing . Valachi's criminal career began with a small gang known as "The Minutemen," so-called for carrying out smash and grab burglaries and escaping within a minute and subsequently as a chauffeur.I n the early 1930s, through mob contact Dominick "The Gap" Petrilli (Walter Chiari) , Valachi was introduced to the Cosa Nostra or Mafia, and soon became a soldier in the Reina Family (now known as the Lucchese Family) during the height of the Castellammarese War. Valachi fought on the side of Salvatore Maranzano, who eventually defeated the faction headed by rival Joseph Masseria (Sperli) . After Masseria's murder, Valachi became a bodyguard for Maranzano. However, this position was short-lived, as Maranzano (Joseph Wiseman) himself was murdered in 1931. Valachi then became a soldier in the family headed by Charles "Lucky" Luciano (eventually known as the Genovese Family), in the crew headed by Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo (Leontini) .

This landmark gangster movie is strong stuff , being dominated by the tenacious acting of Charles Bronson as the gangster of the title who follows his way venomously since a simple gangster , chauffeur until his prison as he breaks the sacred code of silence , the Omertá . Bronson captures the special excitement or mood of paranoia on Valachi role . Director Yerence Young's body-strewn look at the feud between Maranzano , Genovese , Masseria , Gaetano Reina , Lucky Luciano and other famous mobsters , but especially concerns about the informer Joe Valachi . This is a violence-ridden story full of action, drama, thriller , drama but being overlong . The notorious gangster Vito Genovese being splendidly played by Lino Ventura who makes a good character study of one of the most colorful mobsters of the history .In the film appears famous gangsters such as Salvatore Maranzano played by Joseph Wiseman , Gaetano Reina acted by Amedeo Nazzari , Albert Anastasia by Fausto Tozzi , Letizia Reina played by Pupella Maggio and Lucky Luciano performed by Angelo Infanti . Jill Ireland , Bronson's real wife , makes an appealing heroine , providing an elegant touch amid the 'macho'machine gun mayhem of the rest of the film .

The motion picture is based on the book ¨Joe Valachi papers¨ and on real events , these are the following : ¨In October 1963, Valachi had testified before Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations that the Mafia did exist.Although Valachi's disclosures never led directly to the prosecution of many Mafia leaders, he was able to provide many details of its history, operations and rituals, aiding in the solution of several uncleared murders, as well as naming many members and the major crime families. His testimony, which was broadcast on radio and television and published in newspapers, was devastating for the mob, still reeling from the November 14, 1957 Apalachin Meeting, where state police had accidentally discovered several Mafia bosses from all over the United States meeting at the Apalachin home of mobster Joseph Barbara. Following Valachi's testimony, the mob was no longer invisible to the public. He was the son-in-law of Gaetano Reina, having married Reina's oldest daughter Mildred over the objections of her mother, brother, and uncles. Valachi's motivations for becoming an informer have been the subject of some debate. Valachi claimed to be testifying as a public service and to expose a powerful criminal organization that he blamed for ruining his life, but it is also possible he was hoping for government protection as part of a plea bargain in which he was sentenced to life imprisonment, avoiding the death penalty for a murder he committed in prison on June 22, 1962. While in prison, Valachi feared that mob boss Vito Genovese had ordered his death as a traitor. Using a pipe left near some construction work, he bludgeoned to death an inmate whom he mistook for Joseph DiPalermo, a Mafia member he believed was commissioned to kill him. (Valachi and Genovese were both serving sentences for heroin trafficking. After time with FBI handlers, Valachi came forward with a story of Genovese giving him a kiss on the cheek, which he took as a "kiss of death". In 1966, Valachi attempted to hang himself in his prison cell, using an electrical extension cord. On April 3, 1971, Valachi died of a heart attack at Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna in Texas, having outlived Vito Genovese by two years. The $100,000 bounty, placed on Valachi by Genovese, went uncollected.¨


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