6.6/10
2,562
29 user 23 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.

Director:

Terence Young

Writers:

Stephen Geller (screenplay), Peter Maas (novel)
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Cast

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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The true story that made headlines See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy | USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

6 January 1972 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Cosa Nostra See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$20,274,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Fono-Roma)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Allmovie, "This film had to be made in Italy, because attempts to shoot in the U.S. were stymied by mob-arranged 'accidents' and protests." See more »

Goofs

During the chase scene which takes place during the 1920s in New York, a car goes into the river and in the background the twin towers of the World Trade Center under construction can be clearly seen. This is one of the most famous period reconstruction mistakes in film history. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Bob Newhart Show: Old Man Rivers (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
It probably didn't help that this came out the same year as "The Godfather".
19 April 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I truly think if this film had come out earlier it would today be thought of as a better film. After all, it's FAR better than its current rating of 6.8. That's because 1972 was the same year that "The Godfather" debuted and the utter greatness of "The Godfather" probably overwhelmed "The Valachi Papers"---as both touch on very similar subject matter. The main difference is that "The Godfather" was based fictionalized characters and had a true elegance about the film. "The Valachi Papers" in contrast was a much more straight forward story based on real mob figures--and it's a dandy film.

The film begins in the early 1960s. Mobster Joseph Valachi is in prison and multiple attempts are made on his life. It seems that someone in the organization has talked--and the mob of bosses, Genovese (Lino Ventura) believes it was Valachi. And, not surprisingly, a contract has been placed on Valachi's head. This has the unintended consequence of forcing Valachi to to authorities. Almost all the rest of the film consists Valachi giving his story to the government agent. What follows is a very long story about Valachi's earliest days in the mob (about 1930) up to the arrest that brought him to prison--and a bit beyond.

The story is helped a lot by the films's length--a little over two hours. You'd need at least this much to tell such a long and complicated story. It also helps that Charles Bronson is given some excellent support. Among the many wonderful actors, one really surprised me--Lino Ventura. I've seen him in many French films (mostly Pierre Melville productions) and have LOVED his acting--he plays a great mobster--cold and tough. I never realized that he spoke English so well--everything I've seen him in up until now has been in French. Here, he very credibly plays an Italian-American! The script also was quite good. While not quite as human and interesting as "The Godfather", it sure was good...very, very good.

There's almost nothing negative I could say about the film other than very minor things. Bronson was too old for this role. When the film began he was supposed to be 27--but looked about twice that. Also, a few times anachronistic elements somehow made their way in--such as cars that were from the wrong time period. But, as I said, this is all very minor.Aside from this, a top quality production that deserves more recognition. Gritty, exciting and fascinating as well.

By the way, although IMDb lists the movie as being rated PG, the version I saw was way too bloody and filled with nudity to have been rated PG. The lesbian scene along would have merited a rating of R. Perhaps this was a director's cut or perhaps it was not rated PG or perhaps there were just multiple versions.


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