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Film / The Valachi Papers

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The Valachi Papers is a 1972 crime film directed by Terence Young and starring Charles Bronson.

Adapted from the 1969 book of the same name by Peter Maas, it tells the real life story of Joseph "Joe" Valachi, a Mafia informant in the early 1960s.


This film features examples of:

  • Artistic License – History: The scenes of Bender castrating a mobster and Maranzano comment of "I cannot bring back the dead. I can only kill the living." were invented for the film and are absent in the non-fiction book it was based.
  • Based on a True Story: Based on a book collecting the story of Joe Valachi, a real life Mafia informant.
  • Bungled Suicide: Joe becomes upset with having to testify and attempts suicide, but survives.
  • How We Got Here: After Joe accepts to become a informant, the movie shows his life story in flashbacks.
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  • The Mafia: Well, duh. Yes, the film features the Italian-American mafia.
  • Murder by Mistake: In prison, Joe mistakenly kills a fellow prisoner whom he wrongly thinks is a mob assassin.
  • Groin Attack: Joe's capo Tony Bender castrates a mobster for having relations with another mobster's wife.
  • Mercy Kill: Joe shoots the mobster Bender castrated to put him out of his misery.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Joe is shown testifying before a Senate committee.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The film ends with information superimposed on the screen stating that Joe went on to outlive Genovese, who died in prison.

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