Review: The Valachi Papers
Blu-ray: The Valachi Papers (1972)
Starring Charles Bronson (as Valachi) and directed by Terence Young, The Valachi Papers tells the true story of Joseph Valachi; a bag man for the New York Mob who first made the term “Cosa Nostra” known.
In the early 1960s he testified to court that there was such a thing as a mafia in America after being given the ‘kiss of death’ by his mob boss in prison. Valachi is taken into FBI custody to give up names and deeds of mob bosses, and in return he’s kept in solitary. The story is told mostly in flashback (older Bronson with grey hair/younger Bronson with black hair).
Now Charles Bronson was never really what I’d call an ‘actor’, to me he’s more of a hard-man action star. So apart from the odd shooting, Bronson does show his acting chops in this film. He’s not miscast, but… he isn’t quite ‘right’. If the film was remade now they’d have Leonardo Di Caprio playing him.
The main problem with it apart from many of the actors are obviously dubbed (because they’re speaking Italian, though you can watch this version in either English or Italian) is that it’s a bit boring. I found myself wishing something would happen as it just sort of drones on.
It was made around the same time as The Godfather and the comparison is glaring right down to a fish being placed on a dead mobster. Perhaps it’s saving grace is the extras on this package. Its interesting to see the real Valachi in court.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- High Definition remaster
- Original English and Italian mono soundtracks
- Audio commentary with film historian Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose! The Making of the ‘Death Wish’ Films and Bronson’s Loose Again!
- In the Make-up Room (2021, 18 mins): celebrated make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi recalls his time working on The Valachi Papers
- Reviewing the Evidence (2021, 35 mins) screenwriter Stephen Geller shares personal anecdotes about the production
- Valachi: The Violent Era (1972, 7 mins): archival making-of documentary with on-set interviews with director Terence Young and actor Charles Bronson
- On-set footage (1972, 2 mins): rare behind-the-scenes material capturing the filming of a key scene
- The Valachi Hearings (1963, 18 mins): archival broadcast footage from Joseph Valachi’s original testimony to Senator John L McClellan’s congressional committee on organised crime
- US theatrical trailer
- German theatrical trailer
- US TV spot
- US radio spot
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Pasquale Iannone, newspaper reports on Joseph Valachi’s criminal career, excerpts from the source book by Peter Maas, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
The Valachi Papres is released 25th January 2021.