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Review: “The Valachi Papers” (1972), Starring Charles Bronson And Lino Ventura; Twilight Time Blu-ray Limited Edition

By Fred Blosser

When Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” emerged as a surprise box-office smash in the early months of 1972, studios and distributors hustled to meet popular demand for more movies about life in the Mob. In New York, a dubbed print of Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 film “Le Samourai” was hurriedly retitled and screened as “The Godson” in a masterful example of bait-and-switch marketing. Melville’s chilly, claustrophobic picture about a hit man portrayed by Alain Delon is a fine crime drama, but it had no connection to Coppola’s picture or, for that matter, to any aspect of American Mafia lore at all. “The Valachi Papers,” based on Peter Maas’ bestselling nonfiction book, followed as a more legitimate successor. Rushed through production by Dino De Laurentiis in spring and summer 1972, the film was scripted by Stephen Geller and directed by Terence Young. Shooting largely took place at De Laurentiis’ Rome studio.

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