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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
2,676 ( 140)
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

Joseph D. Pistone said of the film, "If I had one thing to say, there should have been more Anne Heche in the actual script." See more »

Goofs

In 1970s New York, sawhorse-style traffic safety barricades were pieced together out of wood (like real sawhorses), then painted yellow or orange, sometimes with stripes. One street scene shows a white plastic model with applied reflective orange stripes, first used in the mid-1990s. See more »

Quotes

Lefty Ruggiero: [repeated line when attempting to avoid the question that's asked to him] ain't the question.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 2 September 2015 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

How Deep is Your Love
(1977)
Written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb
Performed by Johnny Mathis
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Depp and Pacino in terrific movie
17 September 2004 | by rbverhoefSee all my reviews

For some reason a Johnny Depp movie is always interesting. Whether it is a biopic about Ed Wood, a dark fairy tale about a man with scissors instead of hands, a movie about the greatest lover the world has ever known or a adventurous story about pirates, Depp's performance alone makes it worth seeing. Here he plays FBI-agent Joe Pistone who goes undercover using the name Donnie Brasco. He becomes a wiseguy with the help of Lefty (Al Pacino), who is sort of a loser wiseguy who desperately needs to be a mentor because most of his mafia family members look down on him. Donnie comes as a gift from heaven and it does not take long before Lefty trusts Donnie completely. The problem for FBI-agent Donnie is that he's starting to like Lefty as well.

The movie is a gangster movie but has its focus on the relationship between Lefty and Donnie and sometimes on other relationships. Donnie, or Joe, is married to Maggie (Anne Heche) who he hardly sees. He can not exactly tell her what he is doing and sometimes stays away for a couple of weeks. She pretends she is a widow to deal with it. We also learn about the relationships in the mafia family, including new boss Sonny (Michael Madsen).

The fact that this movie is more about the people and their relationships than about the events is a good thing. Sure movies like 'Goodfellas' are terrific but to see something a little different from time to time is nice as well. If you make a movie about people and their emotions you need to have some good performers to make the scenes believable. I already mentioned Depp but of course we have Pacino here as well. His Lefty is a memorable character and it is Pacino who makes sure that happens, but the fact that Depp is as good and especially believable as heavyweight Pacino says something. Of course we have Madsen who was probably the only right actor for the macho mobster Sonny.

Director Mike Newell seems to be a strange choice for this sometimes very violent and bloody story since he directed the terrific but sweet 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Fortunately it turns out he is the right man for this material, probably because its real subject is not gangsters but, like I said before, the relationships between the characters. 'Donnie Brasco' has enough to offer for people who like the gangster-genre, but even if you are normally not a big fan there is still a chance you might like it.


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