DONNIE BRASCO (1997)

A film by Mike Newell This true story follows FBI agent Joe Pistone as he infiltrates the mafia of New York. Befriending Lefty Ruggiero, Pistone (under the name Donnie Brasco) is able to embed himself in a mafia faction lead by Sonny Black. Ruggiero and Pistone become tight as the group goes about collecting money for ‘the bosses’. Eventually, the group become big time when Black himself becomes a boss, all the while Pistone collects evidence. However, the trials and tribulations of the undercover work become more than Pistone can bear. His marriage falls apart and to top it off, the mafia suspect a mole in the organization. The real dilemma is afforded to Pistone, who knows if he walks away from the mafia, Ruggiero will be the one punished. In Joseph Pistone’s report, he lists Lefty, Lefty Guns, Lefty Two Guns, Half Cocked, and Horse Cock as false names for Benjamin Ruggiero (Pacino). The film’s version of “Lefty” Ruggiero is an amalgam of the real “Lefty” and the real “Sonny Black” Napolitano. When the project was in its first stages, Joe Pesci was the first and main choice for Nicky. But after the release of Goodfellas, the idea gradually faded. Johnny Depp met with the actual Joseph D. Pistone a number of times to gain knowledge and expertise for the role. He also took gun firing lessons from the FBI. The scene of Joe Pistone practicing on the FBI’s firing range was inserted at the insistence of the studio, who wanted a shot of Johnny Depp firing a gun for the movie’s trailer. During a two day break in filming, Michael Madsen impulsively proposed to and married DeAnna Madsen. According to Madsen, when he told Al Pacino, Pacino was disgusted with Madsen’s impulsiveness, but the Madsens have now been married for almost 15 years.

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