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 <email@example.com>
The "Cosa Nostra", the Italian criminal syndicate in Sicily, which is also known as "The Mafia", translates into the English language as "Our Thing". Director Terence Young commented that "actually, the word 'Mafia' is never used by Italians because it is a word used only by outsiders. Italians talk about it as the Cosa Nostra, and we show how it came into being". Young stated that the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" were both used on the movie's sound track. Moreover, Young maintained at the time of the film's launch that Joseph Valachi was "the only time when an insider in the Cosa Nostra broke his oath and told his story". See more »
The closing narration states that Vito Genovese died six months earlier than Joe Valachi. In fact, Genovese predeceased Valachi by more than two years. See more »
"Cut it off!" Bender to his two henchman as they grab Gap to get a "present" for Don Vito's girlfriend.
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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 »
Charles Bronson starts to break out of spaghetti westerns and good character roles and becomes a leading man around the time The Valachi Papers came out. It was a big milestone in his career, playing the most famous gangster stoolie of all.
It's not quite true that all Valachi's testimony managed to do was get a lot of high television ratings for some re-election hungry Senators. Not that they didn't get it and didn't appreciate the side benefits of those famous televised hearings, but eventually what came out of the Valachi hearings was the RICO law which has in fact put quite a dent into organized crime.
The Valachi Papers has Charles Bronson telling FBI man Gerald S. O'Loughlin about his life and times in organized crime with La Cosa Nostra from the days of the Marranzano-Masseria wars until the present which would have been 1962. He doesn't really tell anything new to them, basically he confirms what had been gangster legend about the circumstances of many a demise. But with some hard documentation now, new laws are created to meet the problem.
Bronson does his best with Valachi, but the story has him pretty one dimensional. It's far from The Godfather where you really get inside the characters of the fictional Corleone family. Bronson sure has no conscience about what he did and I'm sure the real Valachi didn't either. In fact the only reason he turns informer is that Vito Genovese already mistakenly has him down as one.
Fans of the gangster genre and Charles Bronson should give this one a look. Others should see The Godfather all three parts.
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