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Gotti (1996)

Here’s a gangland flavored film from the people at HBO about the career of one John Gotti.

Armand Assante stars here as The Dapper Don or if you prefer The Teflon Don. He does so with grit and determination.

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The film is told in flashback from 1973 up until the Don’s luck ran out in 1992 when his right hand killer Sammy “The Bull” Gravano turned against him in a court of law thus sealing the fate of the world famous crime lord. Gravano is played by William Forsythe. An actor who is no stranger to the genre of crime films including a substantial role as Noodles in the Sergio Leone epic, Once Upon a Time In America.

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It’s all very “Martin Scorsese(ish) from director Robert Harmon. So much so that we get some of Marty’s stock company coming over from Goodfellas including Frank Vincent and Vincent Pastore.

The film has plenty of foul language but nowhere near the violence of a theatrical film of the time. Armand gets to threaten those around him and if necessary slam a few heads before cutting Forsythe’s Gravano loose upon those that are holding him back from taking over the family business. I for one have always appreciated seeing Assante on screen. Big or small. I enjoy seeing him play tough and although I wouldn’t say he made a huge name for himself in the main stream he certainly has a large amount of credits on his resume including a starring role in the last big screen Mike Hammer adaptation, I The Jury in 1982.

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Canadian actor Al Waxman turns up here as Gotti’s big time lawyer who keeps the Don on the streets till the Feds finally catch up with him on charges that stick. While Waxman is far from a household name world wide, that isn’t necessarily true to Canadians who are old enough to recall his popular stint as The King of Kensington here within Canadian borders.

quinn in gotti

Adding a touch of class and old time Hollywood to the proceedings is screen legend Anthony Quinn. He plays a member of the family who stands up for Gotti and guides him to the throne of the underworld. Of note is that way back in 1972, Quinn was one of those actors rumored to be The Godfather in an up and coming motion picture from some hack named Coppola.

For plenty of wire taps, stand up guy chatter mixed with William Forsythe hits and mood swings from our leading actor Assante, this plays better than many other genre pieces of the day. Worth a peek.

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