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Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999)

TV Movie  -   -  Crime | Drama  -  25 July 1999 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 657 users  
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The true life story of mafia boss Joesph Bonanno. The story spans from Bonanno's early beginings in Italy, to his conquests in America.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Guido Grasso Jr. ...
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Vito DeFilippo ...
Domenico Fiore ...
Gaspar DiGregario (Older) (as Dom Fiore)
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Aldo Tirelli ...
Bastiano Buster Domingo
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John Tartamella
Jessica Welch ...
Fanny Labruzzo (Young)
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Fanny Labruzzo (Older)
Antonio Maltese ...
Italian Naval Cadet
Vito Rezza ...
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Storyline

The true life story of mafia boss Joesph Bonanno. The story spans from Bonanno's early beginings in Italy, to his conquests in America.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Inside the heart and mind of the Mafia.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

25 July 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Family: The Life and Times of Joseph Bonanno  »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

In a scene where Bonanno is reading a newspaper announcing Germany and Italy's declaration of war on the US (December 11, 1941), the back page of the paper announces the results of a Brooklyn Dodgers double-header, and the Yankees, Indians and Tigers wins. The baseball season in 1941 ended on October 6th at Ebbets Field, in the very first "Subway Series", when the Yanks beat the Dodgers 4 games to 1. See more »

Quotes

Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano: You can't make money with a gun in your hand.
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User Reviews

Fascinating true story!
1 October 2004 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

The made for TV movie "Bonanno: A Godfather's Story" from 1999 tells the fascinating story of true life Italian-American Mafia boss Giuseppe "Joseph" Bonanno, perhaps more known as "Joe Bananas". We get to follow Bonanno through his very long life, born in 1905 he was still alive when the TV movie was made (he died in 2002). The TV movie is listed on the IMDb as 170 minutes long, but the version I saw on Hallmark Television was divided in four episodes and about 360 minutes long. The first two episodes gives a realistic and insightful description of the conditions of many Italian-Americans in New York during the first decades of the 20th century, the last two episodes concentrates instead on the intrigues and the power struggle in the US Mafia from WWII until the late 1960s. It is very well done and entertaining throughout, even though it is made in an almost semi documentary fashion. By following Bonanno's fascinating life and crime career we also get to meet other interesting protagonists of the US Mafia such as Salvatore Maranzano, Joe "the Boss" Masseria, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joe Profaci, Buffalo's Stefano Maggadino, Chicago's Al Capone and Sam Giancana, New Orlean's Carlos Marcello and Tampa's Santo Trafficante Jr. We also get to learn more about the mob's support of Politicians such as Franklin D Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and NYC mayor Robert F Wagner. The actors are all very good, particularly Tony Nardi who plays Bonanno for most of the third and fourth part. Edward James Olmos is also quite good as Don Maranzano. You notice that a great part of the cast is Canadians of Italian origin, since their Italian pronunciation is superior to most US actors of Italian origin. Among the negative parts of the TV movie is the glorification of the protagonist, which is however common to most films dealing with the US Mafia. Here is it even more evident, perhaps because the movie is produced by Bonanno's son Bill. It is for example heavily underlined that Bonanno is an anti-fascist, that he supports the US Democrats by ideological reasons, that he opposes Cuba's Batista and that he reflects thoroughly before ordering any murders. We must however remember that he committed a lot of criminal acts and like most mobsters was against Mussolini not because of democratic beliefs, but because the Fascists clamped down on crime. Neither has it been proved that the Mafia, as suggested in the movie, was involved in the murders of journalist Carlo Tresca in 1943 and JFK in 1963. You shouldn't compare this TV movie with Coppola's "The Godfather" which is fictional, but partly based on the true events described in Bonanno's story. Mostly however the TV movie is a great deal more faithful to real events than similar products and it is greatly recommended to anyone interested in the history of New York's Italian-American Mafia. As a mini series made for Television I would give it an "above average" rating.


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