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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Don is Dead (1973)


Starring: Anthony Quinn, Frederic Forrest, Al Lettieri and Robert Forster
Distributor: Eureka Classics
RRP: £17.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 18 January 2021

When his father dies, Frank Regalbuto attempts to inherit his father crime family, but the commission does not agree that he is ready to take on the responsibility. However, a compromise is arrived at when Don Angelo DiMorra agrees to take him under his wing as a son in respect to his dead friend. All seems well, except that Frank has a weakness, Ruby, a failed, but beautiful singer, whom he loves. When Frank goes to Italy to sort out a drug deal a rival introduces Ruby to Don Angelo. Willing to do anything to gain success she agrees to be his mistress. On Frank's return, he discovers this and goes to war against Angelo...

The Don is Dead (1973) is a gangster film directed by Richard Fleischer. It was an adaptation of an original novel, written by Marvin H. Albert, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

There is no way that this film will not be compared to The Godfather (1972). So much so, that I was surprised that the movie was based on a novel and not just a quick rip off of the more superior film.

Whilst not directly lifted from The Godfather it uses enough riffs to be reminiscent, the headstrong young man who would start a gang war over a woman, the intelligent, reluctant brother forced into a position of power, even though he wanted to leave the gangster life behind. The mastermind is orchestrating a war from behind the scenes for his grab for power. It even uses the montage of showing multiple killings when debts are paid. We will skip over the idea of one character having to travel to Italy during the story.

Of course, all of this is helped with the inclusion of some of the actors from The Godfather to aid its legitimacy.

That is not to say that the film does not have some value of its own, but this is hampered by both visuals and music that have more to do with TV movie films than it has with movies. Back-to-back you would not think that this film came out so close to The Godfather. One is a masterpiece, and this is a pale imitation in comparison.

That said the cast do what they can with the script and there are some nice pieces within the film.

There is a full-length commentary by critic and writer Scott Harrison. It's an interesting commentary that tries to place the film in the social period it was made as well as examining some of the interesting aspects of the film casting.

As I said, the film has some merit, but against the cream of mafia films, this still feels like a made for television movie.


Charles Packer

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