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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Decidedly unromantic mobster movie - with a hit man reading Sartre!

Author: manuel-pestalozzi from Zurich, Switzerland
17 June 2003

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It is a powerful antidote against dramatized, romanticized gangster sagas like The Godfather or Goodfellas. Apparently based on actual facts, the movie is the story of a New York Mafia boss's son. He tries to help his father because he thinks it is his filial duty.

There is a gang war on. Gangsters go into hiding. They are constantly in limbo. The father is in hiding. The son goes into hiding, in a different place. He is accompanied by an old, seasoned hit man - a magnificent performance by Richard S. Castellano of Godfather fame. As the two men just sit and wait - but wait for what? - in a shabby downtown apartment, the hit man passes the time reading Sartre's Being and Nothingness!

There is a fine sense of the absurd throughout this movie. The son hasn't got a clue what he is supposed to do. He just stands around asking everybody: What is going on? He never finds out. (Probably a chicken stolen somewhere in Sicily a hundred years ago, he suggests). Joe Bologna gives a wonderful portrait of Salvatore Bonanno. He plays a basically good natured, normal guy who can't cope with the circumstances that direct his life. It is wonderful how Bologna always has this strained expression on his face as Salvatore Bonanno tries to listen well and to understand. He has a wife and kids, and he wants to procure a respectable family life for them. His wife is scared and angry; she does not want to put up with a bunch of snoring, farting mobsters in her living room night after night!

Joe Bologna is paired with legendary italian actor Raf Vallone who plays Joe Bonanno, the father. And they really are a minor dream team! There is a model case of two people who can not communicate, although they really love each other. This is best shown in the final parting scene, when the son has to go to jail. They don't know what so say, they just stand, looking at each other. Finally the father shows the son his school report from Sicily he accidentally found while clearing out a desk. "Ninety in maths. Not bad, eh?" These are the father's cryptical final words. The son as usual doesn't know what to answer.

I guess the famous TV series The Sopranos owes more to this movie than to any of Coppola's or Scorsese's pictures.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A masterpiece of mob life

Author: arthurclay from Italy
2 April 2004

I first saw this movie as part of a collection entitled "Great Mafia Movies" and they were right about this one it is great. This film is one of the very few movies that accurately and unromantically portrays real life in the Mafia and the inherent danger that is present in it(the others being Goodfellas and WTTM). Right off the bat you are thrown into the violent and not so secretive world of the Bonnano family as the public and police know as much or even more than the mobsters. You can literally feel the danger and impending doom that hangs around each member especially Bill and Joe Bonnano. They are fighting for their lives in every frame of the picture. You feel bad when their friends are killed and that they have to struggle just to survive each day. This movie is pro-Bonnano but in my mind that is not such a bad thing since its being told from the son's perspective just as Gotti is told from John's perspective. Even if Joe Bonnano was wrong and at fault for what happened in real life its hard to muster any compassion or sympathy for his enemies as treacherous and vicious as they are. I loved the scene with the commission I would have liked to see Carlo Gambino have a bigger role but that wasn't central to the plot. My only problem with this movie is that it really doesn't end with a definite sense of finality like it's like there's a whole other saga waiting to be told but given the circumstances I don't suppose it could have ended any other way. In any case Honor Thy Father is a goldmine of information on the mob and a real treat to view as well.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Well Made TV Movie

Author: cich from Italia
29 November 2002

Considering that this was a made for TV movie without a high budget, I was impressed. What carries the movie forward is the great acting. Raf Vallone is one of the best Italian actors in Italian cinema history as any Italian film buff can attest to. He portrays Joseph Bonanno with intensity, emotion, calm demeanor, and gives a well rounded and balanced performance. Vallone must have studied how Mr. Bonanno carried himself in life. It is obvious that he was an honorable person trying to protect his family, and Vallone depicts this perfectly. As for the other actors, they are all veterans of the New York Italian American school of acting: Joseph Bologna and Richard Castellano (of GODFATHER fame) give authentic portrayals of Sal Bonanno and Frank LaBruzzo. They are just so natural and very New York. Apparently they do not even need to act....they are just being themselves. That is why this movie is so realistic and genuine. Sam Coppola (of Saturday Night Fever as Mr. Fusco) and Carmine Caridi (of Prince of the City) also give admirable performances. Overall I rate this movie at 9 out of 10. I recommend it.

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Bonanno family values

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
22 December 2016

Although both Raf Vallone and Joseph Bologna register well as father&son Mafia duo of Joe and Bill Bonanno and the source of this film is Gay Talese's account of Bill Bonanno's life up to that point, it does not really tell the story certainly from the point of view of those trying to bring them down. Read the Wikipedia article on the Bonannos. There was a certain resentment of the son by some of the close associates of Joe Bonanno of the nepotism there. And Bill Bonanno was hardly the reluctant don himself.

Interesting this came out in 1973 between the release of both Godfather films. The 70s because of the great popularity of The Godfather in both book and film there was a glut of these on the market. It seemed for awhile back then that every other film was a gangster story.

I liked what Brenda Vaccaro did with her portrayal of Rosalie Profaci Bonanno, wife of Joseph Bologna. Back in the day this was considered the great Mafia marriage, in their world like Charles and Diana. But Diana had more free will than Rosalie did. As a dutiful Mafia wife who grew up in that world she certainly knew never to ask questions about her husband's business.

Also note Richard Castellano in a portrayal similar to what he did as Clemenza in The Godfather.

This is the Bonanno version of their internal wars within their crime family. But the Corleones prove more interesting.

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Gay Talese on TV

Author: gavin6942 from United States
22 August 2016

At last, the story about New York's underworld. The real-life drama of notorious Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno and his heir apparent, son Salvatore (known as Bill).

This film suffers from a sloppy, shaking camera, which is probably present in the original aired version. It also happens to be blurry, making it hard to see faces. But that is probably from the transfer, and if an original negative exists, a decent DVD could be released.

The film does a very straightforward telling of the Bill Bonanno story, as it has been told by Gay Talese and by Bonanno himself. Exactly how true any of it is, well... that is a matter of opinion. The Bonanno family (both father and son) have spun a lot of baloney about their lives, and who knows how much is accurate. Amazingly, an objective biography has yet to be written.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Cheap attempt to cash in on Godfather

Author: Major Woody from Florida, United States
4 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I last saw this flick in the 70's, after having read the book it was based on. It didn't take long into the film to realize why it is not on many lists of great ( or good, or for that matter, even fair) gangster flicks. Joe Bologna as Bill Bonnano, Joe's son, is such a whiny character that is hard to see why anyone would pick him to lead a crime family, even if he is the boss' son. Not only is he constantly whining, he also doesn't have a clue as to what anyone is up to. Castellano basically reprises his role as Clemenza from the GF, although he does add hacking out his lungs to show a bit of difference in the two characters. Early in the film, when Joe Bonanno is hiding out to avoid subpoenas, he is shown staying in about the cheapest, flea bag motel that they could find ( which must have been all they could afford on the budget they had for this film). To think that a boss of one of NYC's 5 families would stay at some $20 a night dump is beyond comprehension, although he does manage to stay nattily attired in full suit while sitting in the room. Other discrepancies involve cars that don't fit the time frame, hair styles from the 70's being used in the early 60's, and other inappropriate mix-ups. The most idiotic part is the attempted hit on Bill, when the street is absolutely empty of any people or traffic ( in NYC no less), while Bill and his entourage park quite a distance away in order to walk down the street, where numerous gunman shoot at them with never emptying revolvers from multiple locations, yet never hit anyone. The film also has the older actors talk in a weird, stilted way that somehow Hollywood screenwriters and directors think make mafioso sound wise , unlike the way real street mafioso speak.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

"Honor Thy Father" ain't no "Godfather".

Author: Zorin-2 from United States
3 April 2000

"Honor Thy Father" is a very slow, unexciting TV made movie about an inner city Mafia family. A good source for school projects but thats about it. Otherwise, don't watch it for entertainment or you will be bored to death. I just have to say it's a good thing I got this film for free.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: inspectors71 from Fly-Over Country
7 April 2008

On the cheapo TV movie front, there's 1973's Honor Thy Father, an episodic, dull, and tedious foray into trying to make gangsters look sympathetic.

There are lots of familiar faces in HTF--Joe Bologna, Brenda Vaccaro, and a slew of character actors who got typecast as Mafioso. The trouble with the movie is that it's so boring and slapdash that you'll find yourself hitting the display on the DVD player to check how much time you have left.

Just to make sure that you know that this is a realistic portrayal of organized crime families, there's even the joy of watching--and listening to--Richard Castellano hacking up a lung from smoking (Gee, even Made Men get cancer!)

I'm afraid that watching crap like this may be carcinogenic.

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