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Donnie Brasco (1997)

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An FBI undercover agent infiltrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the mafia life, at the expense of his regular one.



(book), (book) | 1 more credit »
1,978 ( 135)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Curley (as Zeljko Ivanek)
Walt MacPherson ...
Ronnie Farer ...


This true story follows FBI agent Joe Pistone as he infiltrates the mafia of New York. Befriending Lefty Ruggiero, Pistone (under the name Donnie Brasco) is able to embed himself in a mafia faction led by Sonny Black. Ruggiero and Pistone become tight as the group goes about collecting money for 'the bosses'. Eventually, the group become big-time when Black himself becomes a boss; all the while, Pistone collects evidence. However, the trials and tribulations of the undercover work become more than Pistone can bear. His marriage falls apart, and to top it off, the mafia suspect a mole in the organization. The real dilemma is afforded to Pistone, who knows if he walks away from the mafia, Ruggiero will be the one punished. Written by P. Wong <pwong@nt.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mafia | fbi | money | racial slur | singer | See All (182) »


Donnie Brasco. Based On A True Story. See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong graphic violence, pervasive strong language and brief nudity and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brasco  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,660,216 (USA) (28 February 1997)


$41,954,997 (USA) (13 June 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Joe Pesci was 'Mike Newell (I)'s first choice for Nicky. See more »


When the crew are about to board the boat "The Left Hand," a sign with 1990s gas prices is visible. See more »


Lefty: In all the five boroughs, I'm known, forget about it, I'm known all over the fucking world, anybody asks about Lefty from Mulberry Street, you're pissing up the world fucking street my friend
See more »


Referenced in Veronica Mars: Blast from the Past (2005) See more »


Silver Bells
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Performed by Vic Damone
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Al Pacino's Best Movie
6 October 2004 | by (St Louis, MO) – See all my reviews

Yes, I am going to make the bold claim that this is his best work. "Are you talking about the same Al Pacino that did Scarface, Heat, AND the Godfather movies" you ask. Yes, yes, and let me explain myself. First of all, I want to add that I LOVE Pacino's work. He has such a commanding presence on screen and nobody in cinematic history can scream as well as him (though Gene Hackman is damn good). He can scare the hell out of you with just one crazed look in his eye and he never gives a flat performance (well, except in Revolution).

Having said that, I think Pacino is incredible in this flick because his character is so understated. While his work often consists of playing flamboyant, over-the-top, and almost cartoonish figures(especially in Scarface and The Devil's Advocate), this film is a change of pace for him. Sure, he's still playing a mobster, but he's not as psychotic as usual, and for once, you get to see the inner struggles of a crook who deep down has a heart of gold (despite all of the murders). Pacino is perfect as Lefty, an aging crimical who wants out of the mob lifestyle, but doesn't know how to do it. Though you see the fast and fun world of mobsters in flicks like Goodfellas, this film gives you a sense that the mob life isn't that glamorous.

Along with Pacino's acting, Johnny Depp is delectable as Joe Pistone (Donnie Brasco) because you can see his inner torment as well. He knows that he's been assigned to infiltrate the New York mob scene, but he develops such a close bond with Lefty that it's almost hard to bring him down. A very real, human relationship permeates between the two that is very moving. I like how the characters are always joking about being a "wise guy," as it provides some light chuckles, and it also shows that in order to live this lifestyle, you've gotta talk tough and act tough (as if I would know what that's like).

The supporting cast is particularly noteworthy. Bruno Kirby plays a great weasel, Anne Heche is wonderful as Pistone's neurotic wife (you can understand her suffering, what with being married to an FBI special agent) and Michael Madsen is reliable, once again, as a mobster (honestly, does this guy do anything besides gangster or sci-fi flicks?). Every time I watch this movie I am breathless afterwards. The acting is wonderful, the music is superb, and frankly, I can't believe this stuff actually happened. Then again, I haven't read the book, so I don't know how much of it is true.

Overall, this movie gets 10 out of 10. I'm shocked it doesn't get more recognition, especially with such prolific actors as Pacino and Depp leading the way. This is a different kind of mob movie, as it shows a more somber side to this way of life, and I recommend it unequivocally.

182 of 223 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Explain why the FBI bosses visited the pool room near the end frogca
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in the begining of the movie,,, just wondering ransid86
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