Top 5000
Down 528 this week

Donnie Brasco (1997)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  28 February 1997 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 212,131 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 232 user | 112 critic | 21 from

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 »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Video


Top 25 Trivia Items From the Last 25 Years

Here are some amazing facts and figures to deepen your appreciation of the movies you love.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 26 Mar 2012
a list of 30 titles
created 19 Apr 2013
a list of 37 titles
created 29 Sep 2013
a list of 46 titles
created 08 Apr 2014
a list of 40 titles
created 8 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Donnie Brasco" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Donnie Brasco (1997)

Donnie Brasco (1997) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Donnie Brasco.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Carlito's Way (1993)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A Puerto Rican former convict, just released from prison, pledges to stay away from drugs and violence despite the pressure around him and lead on to a better life outside of N.Y.C.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller
Blow (2001)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of George Jung, the man who established the American cocaine market in the 1970s.

Director: Ted Demme
Stars: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Franka Potente
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.

Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn
Serpico (1973)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The true story about an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, David Wenham
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro
Heat (1995)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An exceptionally adept Florida lawyer is offered a job to work in New York City for a high-end law firm with a high-end boss - the biggest opportunity of his career to date.

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Casino (1995)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two mobster best friends and a trophy wife over a gambling empire.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
Scarface (1983)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer
The Insider (1999)
Biography | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A research chemist comes under personal and professional attack when he decides to appear in a "60 Minutes" expose on Big Tobacco.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1978, the US government waged a war against organized crime. One man was left behind the lines. 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:





| |

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
See  »

Did You Know?


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


The scene at the airport hangar shows a Continental plane and a Northwest Airlink plane with 1990s logos. See more »


Lefty: When they send for you, you go in alive, you come out dead, and it's your best friend that does it.
See more »


Referenced in Bottoms Up (2006) See more »


Working My Way Back To You
Written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell
Performed by The Spinners
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A good gangster film with strong emotional under currents
2 May 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In the late 1970's, FBI agent Joe Pistone poses as jewel expert Donnie Brasco to win the trust of ageing mob middleman Lefty Ruggiero. As time passes Donnie gets tighter and tighter into the mob, rising up when boss Sonny Black gets bumped up. While Donnie puts his life at risk, his real life crumbles as he never sees his wife or children. As he moves upwards, his friend Lefty is bypassed time and time again. As Donnie gets deeper, the FBI start to worry and want to extract him - something that cannot be done without exposing himself and condemning Lefty to death.

Now that Pirates of the Caribean has made him a bankable star as well as a good actor I decided to dig out some of my old Depp videos and watch them. I have been a Depp fan since the mid-90's when I saw Arizona Dream, Ed Wood and Don Juan all in a period of 6 months -I realised then that this was not only a very talented guy but also one who seemed happy to do whatever interested him rather than whatever was going to make money. This film is in a well known and fairly reliable genre - the Italian American gangster movie but has the strength that it is an engaging true story. The plot follows Joe as he gets in deeper, is suspected, gets involved in battles between bosses and eventually starts to lose himself and forget what side he is actually on. Even though this is a true story, it still basically goes where we expect mob films to go, but it manages to rise above the clichés by having some very good characters and emotional themes.

The whole gangster thing works and is gripping, but it is the relationship dynamics between Joe and Lefty that made it more interesting. The element of going `native' when undercover has been done plenty of times, but it is the combination of this being fact and Depp's great performance that makes it work well here; we feel for Joe a great deal. On the flipside the film also allows us to feel for the mob, or at least one of them. The majority of the mobsters are the usual stereotypes but Lefty is written with a great deal of sympathy - he is a middleman, taking the risks, doing the dirt but always passed over and having to beg money to keep his bosses happy. These are tragic characters and the film is not the slightly glamorous gangster lifestyle that Pacino has experienced in his Godfather roles. These two characters are well written and it is their subplots that makes the film better than the central plot (which itself is also very good).

Depp is good and his performance is solid even if it doesn't really rank up their with his best - he lacks his usual flair but he gives the material it's dues. Pacino is of course, wonderful. His character is a far cry from his Godfather work and he manages to bring such pathos to Lefty that it is impossible not to feel for him. The support cast may not have as much in the way of character but they all do well in their roles. Madsen, Kirby, Ivanek, Heche, Miano and others all give good support, but it is Pacino and Depp's film - which is a good thing.

Overall, the fact that this is a true story makes it more interesting but, while I was watching it I wasn't really thinking about it and was just enjoying the gangster film itself. The basic story is a well worn one but is still delivery well by Newell (who was a very unusual choice for director), but it is the emotion threads involving Joe and Lefty that make the film much more than just another gangster film.

106 of 122 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Explain why the FBI bosses visited the pool room near the end frogca
Anybody feel sorry for Lefty? mastersslave74
A few questions codeinemassacre
Why go to your death? ladydesdemonna
The last scene with lefty. renoprog-1
Pacino or Depp? sobol4ever-1
Discuss Donnie Brasco (1997) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: