29 user 24 critic

The Valachi Papers (1972)

Gangster Joe Valachi is a marked man in the same joint where mob boss Don Vito Genovese is imprisoned and he's forced to co-operate with the DA in exchange for protection.


Terence Young


Stephen Geller (screenplay), Peter Maas (novel)

On Disc

at Amazon


Learn more

More Like This 

Breakout (1975)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A bush pilot is hired for fifty thousand dollars to go to Mexico to free an innocent prisoner.

Director: Tom Gries
Stars: Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Jill Ireland
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A top New York detective is sent to Los Angeles where he must solve a case involving an old Sicilian Mafia family feud.

Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Jack Colvin
The Family (1970)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A hitman is double-crossed by his girlfriend and barely escapes a murder attempt. He then sets out to take his revenge on the woman and the gang boss who put her up to it.

Director: Sergio Sollima
Stars: Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Jill Ireland
Cold Sweat (1970)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

With his wife and daughter being held hostage, a seasoned ex-military man is involved in a shady smuggling operation to save his family.

Director: Terence Young
Stars: Charles Bronson, James Mason, Liv Ullmann
St. Ives (1976)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A crime novelist is hired by a shady character to negotiate the return of stolen confidential documents.

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jacqueline Bisset, John Houseman
Certificate: GP Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A neurosurgeon with a cheating wife takes an amnesiac into his home and conditions him to believe that the cheating wife is his own and to take the "appropriate" action.

Director: Nicolas Gessner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Anthony Perkins, Jill Ireland
Chato's Land (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1870s New Mexico, a half-breed kills a bigoted sheriff in self-defense but the posse that eventually hunts him finds itself in dangerous territory.

Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jack Palance, James Whitmore
Mr. Majestyk (1974)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A melon farmer battles organized crime and a hit man who wants to kill him.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles Bronson, Linda Cristal, Al Lettieri
Soleil rouge (1971)
Action | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In 1870, a gang robs a train and steals a ceremonial Japanese sword meant as a gift from Japan to the U.S. President, prompting a manhunt to retrieve it.

Director: Terence Young
Stars: Charles Bronson, Toshirô Mifune, Alain Delon
Chino (1973)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A runaway teenager and a mixed-race horse breeder strike an unlikely friendship in the context of common hardships.

Directors: John Sturges, Duilio Coletti
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Marcel Bozzuffi
Mystery | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

John Deakin is being transported, as a prisoner, on a train with supplies and medicine to Fort Humboldt, Nevada.

Director: Tom Gries
Stars: Charles Bronson, Ben Johnson, Richard Crenna
Telefon (1977)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A Russian officer is sent to the U.S. to try and stop sleeper agents who will mindlessly attack government entities when they hear certain coded words.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Charles Bronson, Lee Remick, Donald Pleasence


Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Bronson ... Joe Valachi
Lino Ventura ... Vito Genovese
Jill Ireland ... Maria Reina Valachi
Walter Chiari ... Gap
Joseph Wiseman ... Salvatore Maranzano
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ... Ryan (as Gerald O'Loughlin)
Amedeo Nazzari ... Gaetano Reina
Fausto Tozzi ... Albert Anastasia
Pupella Maggio Pupella Maggio ... Letizia Reina
Angelo Infanti Angelo Infanti ... Lucky Luciano
Guido Leontini Guido Leontini ... Tony Bender
María Baxa María Baxa ... Donna
Mario Pilar Mario Pilar ... Salierno
Franco Borelli Franco Borelli ... Buster
Alessandro Sperli Alessandro Sperli ... Giuseppe 'Joe the Boss' Masseria (as Alessandro Sperlì)


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


From the deposition of Joe Valachi to the Senate Committee investigating Organized Crime. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



France | Italy | USA


English | Italian

Release Date:

6 January 1972 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Cosa Nostra See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Fono-Roma)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Some one hundred actual convicts worked as extras and background artists in the movie due to a special agreement between the production and the Sing Sing Prison made prior to principal photography. See more »


After Maranzano's death, when Valachi is offered a hideout in the attic, during the conversation between him and the mother of the deceased, the window down the middle is seen to be a shade of black, but the next scene you find that there is daylight gleaming through it. See more »


Tony Bender: "Cut it off!" Bender to his two henchman as they grab Gap to get a "present" for Don Vito's girlfriend.
See more »

Alternate Versions

To receive an 'X' certificate the UK cinema version received heavy cuts to scenes of violence including the castration scene, bloody shootings, and the meat hook killing. Video and DVD releases restore the cuts. See more »


Referenced in McCloud: The Solid Gold Swingers (1973) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

I cannot bring back the dead but I can kill the living!
15 October 2006 | by sol-kaySee all my reviews

(Minor Spoilers) Facing the death penalty for the murder of a fellow inmate Joe Saupp, whom he mistakenly thought was assigned to murder him, Mafia button man or soldier Joe Valachi, Charles Bronson, is now facing death from both the federal government and his boss Mafia Kingpin and fellow convict Vito Genovese, Lino Ventura, who put a $50,000.00, later $100,000.00, contract on his head.

Don Vito the boss of bosses of the five New York Mafia families has been suspicious of his friend and mob associate Joe Valachi for some time of rating him out and setting him up in a government sting on a narcotic rap and has decided to have Valachi who had nothing to do with it hit. The final straw for Joe Valachi was when Don Vito gave him the "kiss of death" after he had a friendly talk with him in his prison cell.

The movie "The Valachi Papers" is no where as good as movies about the Mafia like "The Godfather" or "Goodfellows" but has the distinction of being the very first Hollywood-made movie,as far as I know, to show the inner workings of the Mafia and it's secretive and shadow-like organization La Cosa Nosra; roughly meaning "our thing" in Italian.

In protective custody and being prepped for the upcoming 1963 Sen. McClellan/Kennedy hearings on Organized Crime we and federal agent Ryan, Gerald S.O'Loughlin, get the truth about the Mafia/Cosa Nostra straight from the horses mouth Joe Valachi himself. In a long flashback Valachi takes us through the turbulent 1930's 40's and 50's when the mob went from a group of petty and unimaginative crime bosses to the powerful and well oiled crime machine that it eventually became.

There are those who feel that Joe Valachi's claims of his being somehow involved with almost every major Mafia figurer over those 30 some years is a bit overdone and boastful on his part in order to give himself much more credit then he really deserves. The fact that his expert testimony didn't have a single Mafiso, from solider to mob boss, even indicted tends to confirm that. Still there's no denying that he was in fact the first made Mafia member to talk and expose what ever he knew about the crime syndicate that he was involved with. All that will always have his name, Joe Valachi, as a major force in exposing the Mafia to the unaware public despite his low standing, he never rose above a button man, in that crime organization.

Charles Bronson did a better then average job as the Mafia thug Joe Valachi with him acting more then using his fists and his real-life. Bronson's wife Jill Ireland was more or less window dressing playing Valachi's wife in the movie Maria the daughter of Joe's boss Gaetano Reina, Amedeo Nazzani. The person who really stole the acting honors had to be Joseph Wiseman playing the first Mafia Boss of Bosses hyped-up Sal Maranzno. Wiseman was so tuned, or wired, into his role that he looked and acted like he was doing a stand-up comedy routine aided by downing a bottle of uppers. There was also the rest of the legendary "murderers row" of the mob in the movie that included Albert Anastasia Lucky Luciano & Joe "The Boss" Masseria played by Fausto Tozzi Angelo Infanti and Alessandro Sperll.

Valachi a good soldier almost to the end broke from tradition and the Mafia code of "Morte" or silence. Thats when he saw that after all the hard work he did in dedicating his heart and soul to the Mafia he was given the short end of the stick by boss Vito Genovese for something he didn't do. It's then that Valachi spelled the end of the powerful mob organization that took the likes of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, incidentally a non-Italian, over thirty years to build. If Joe Valachi was only treated with more respect and understanding by the paranoid and homicidal Vito Genovese things may well have been different for all those represented in the movie.

P.S Joe Valachi did in the end get his wish from the Federal Government by outliving his boss and the person who put a price on his head, for $100,000.00, Vito Genovese by almost two years. Joe Valachi died in prison in 1971 at age 67 of natural causes.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 29 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed