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Donnie Brasco (1997)

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

Director:

Mike Newell

Writers:

Joseph D. Pistone (book), Richard Woodley (book) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,263 ( 302)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

In 1978, the US government waged a war against organized crime. One man was left behind the lines. See more »

Genres:

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Brasco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,660,216, 2 March 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$41,909,762

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$124,909,762
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Paul Attanasio, Johnny Depp's 1994 arrest for destroying a hotel room helped him get cast. People thought he was "dark and dangerous." See more »

Goofs

In the car, Lefty shows Donnie a newspaper photo of the Carmine Galante crime scene. In the next scene, they pull up to Sonny's club, and small piles of snow are on the sidewalk. Galante was killed in July 1979, so there should be no snow on the ground. See more »

Quotes

Lefty Ruggiero: [to Donnie, in his kitchen] Anywhere you go, all around the world, all the best cooks are men.
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Mob Hits in Movies (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Happiness
(1978)
Written by Allen Toussaint
Performed by The Pointer Sisters
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An absorbing, well made gangster movie.
17 September 2003 | by barnabyrudgeSee all my reviews

Mike Newell is the weirdest choice for director of a Mafia drama, but he actually makes a terrific fist of it, delivering one of the very best gangster movies ever made. Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Anne Heche and Michael Madsen are all in top form in front of the camera, too.

Depp plays undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone in this intriguing true story. Pistone is trying to infiltrate his way into a mob family in order to gather evidence against them. He assumes the identity of "Donnie Brasco" and slowly but surely earns the love and trust of an old-pro hit-man named Lefty Ruggiero (Pacino). As the months go by, Pistone's marriage begins to fall apart as he is away from his wife (Heche) pretty much all the time. The line between his real life and his undercover life blurs together and he finds himself dangerously close to being seduced by the violent Mob lifestyle.

Donnie Brasco is an extraordinary film in many ways. As already mentioned, the performances are note-perfect. But there's so much more to it than that. The late 70s period details are impeccably captured; the dialogue is extraordinarily raw and realistic; the moral dilemma facing Depp is achingly, agonisingly conveyed. It's such a powerful picture, completely involving, that by the end you find yourself wrapped up in Pistone's predicament, asking yourself what decisions you would make in the same circumstances. Very few movies genuinely inspire you to debate the whats, whys and wherefores of the main character and his actions... but with Donnie Brasco, that's just what you'll find yourself doing.


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