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Donnie Brasco (1997)

0:37 | Trailer
An FBI undercover agent infiltrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the mafia life, at the expense of his regular one.


Mike Newell


Joseph D. Pistone (book), Richard Woodley (book) | 1 more credit »
1,166 ( 12)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino ... Lefty
Johnny Depp ... Donnie
Michael Madsen ... Sonny
Bruno Kirby ... Nicky
James Russo ... Paulie
Anne Heche ... Maggie
Zeljko Ivanek ... Tim Curley (as Zeljko Ivanek)
Gerry Becker ... Dean Blandford FBI
Robert Miano ... Sonny Red
Brian Tarantina ... Bruno
Rocco Sisto ... Richie Gazzo
Zach Grenier ... Dr. Berger
Walt MacPherson Walt MacPherson ... Sheriff
Ronnie Farer Ronnie Farer ... Annette
Terry Serpico ... Strip Club Owner


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 <pwong@nt.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Donnie Brasco. Based On A True Story. 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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Al Pacino and Michael Madsen would later reunite in Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019). See more »


Early in the movie, when Donnie Brasco is fixing the items in his house, the Jif peanut butter moves counter clockwise in the cabinet. See more »


Maggie Pistone: God, why do you hate me when I love you so much?
Donnie Brasco: [standing in front of each other in their garage] You think I hate you? I don't hate you. This job is eating me alive. I can't breathe anymore. And if I come out, this guy Lefty dies. They're gonna kill him because he vouched for me. Because he stood up for me. I live with that every day. That's the same thing if I put the bullet through his head myself, you understand? I spend all these years trying to be the good guy, you know? The man in the ...
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Alternate Versions

In 2007, Sony released an DVD "Extended Cut" featuring an extra 20 minutes footage (taking the running time up to 147 minutes). See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Donnie Fatso (2010) See more »


Silver Bells
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Performed by Vic Damone
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

User Reviews

Absorbing, Understated Mafia Drama Due to the Genre's Most Popular Hits
15 June 2020 | by heisenberg12See all my reviews

This is an absorbing film based on a true story about how Joe Pistone, an FBI agent, infiltrated the mafia in the 1970s in New York City.

It is the first modern era film that is based on this kind of infiltration. Since Donnie Brasco, many movies have used this same formula using an undercover agent to partake in organized crime takedowns, but it was really Donnie Brasco that started, or at least rejuvenated, this form of the genre.

The only reason I can think that it is only a 7.7 on IMDB is probably because this mafia genre has incredibly high expectations for it with the likes of The Godfather(s), Goodfellas, and even Heat. It doesn't pack the punch that those movies have and is more subdued in its delivery, but the pacing is impeccable and there is barely a moment in the entire runtime that is even a momentary letdown, which is rare. Donnie Brasco goes in a different direction than these films, focusing distinctly on the impact the job has on Joe Pistone's marriage, as well as the relationship he unionizes with "Lefty", in a groundbreaking role by Al Pacino, who plays an over-the-hill, stagnated, and somewhat desperate, made mafia member who feels unappreciated and disrespected to a level that deep down inside he wants out of it.

Not only are the performances all solid throughout, particularly from Pacino, Ann Hesche, Michael Madsen, and Depp, but the writing is excellent and the musical score is emotionally stunning. Anyone who is a fan of the genre or classic movies in general will definitely not regret watching Donnie Brasco, a top 25 movie here. It's a 9/10, but I'm giving it a 10/10 since compared with what the average movie is today or in the past twenty years, Donnie Brasco is way above them in heart, originality, execution, and acting talent.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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English | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Donnie Brasco See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,660,216, 2 March 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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