(1972)2.5Donald GuariscoThe Valachi Papers is a flawed but interesting relic from the pre-Death Wish era of Charles Bronson's stardom. Stephen Geller's script tries to cram several decades' worth of events into a two-hour film and this is both a blessing and a curse: the non-stop flow of shootings and double-crosses is never dull but the speed with which it is delivered ensures that it lacks depth and characterization. Director Terence Young handles the material with solid, economical style but his directorial touch is impersonal, reducing the film to a shoot-'em-up and thus further undercutting the story's dramatic edge. He also allows a few subpar performances to slip by: the worst comes from Joseph Wiseman, who brings an embarrassingly overdone Italian accent to his Mafia don role. Despite these problems, The Valachi Papers works on a B-movie level thanks to its preponderance of action. It also sports an inspired, surprisingly emotional performance from Bronson, who digs into the role of Valachi with a fervor that would rarely be seen in his post-Death Wish work. Ultimately, The Valachi Papers falls short of being a mob-movie classic, but its combination of plentiful action and Bronson's strong performance make it worth a look for hardcore genre fans.