A crime-action movie based on a best-seller, taken from prison conversations and the actual U.S. Senate testimony of Joseph Valachi, a high-ranking figure in the Mafia. The book, which tells precisely who did what to whom, when and why, electrified the nation. This film had to be made in Italy, because attempts to shoot in the U.S. were stymied by mob-arranged "accidents" and protests. The story is told in flashback as Valachi (Charles Bronson
) tells a Federal agent about his activities from 1929 to 1961, when he worked for the Capo of Capos, Vito Genovese.
Sentenced to 15 years in prison, former mob "button man" Joe Valachi (Bronson) turns informant when he learns top Mafia capo Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura) has put a $100,000 contract out on his life. From thievery and extortion to vengeance and murder, Valachi spills the innermost workings of the Cosa Nostra, culminating in his riveting testimony before a Senate subcommittee on organized crime. Based on Peter Maa's best-selling book, The Valachi Papers is gripping, shocking and absolutely true, "a hard-hitting, violence-ridden documented melodrama of the underworld" (Variety).