Synopsis by Mark Deming
This made-for-TV drama is based on the autobiography of one of the most notorious figures in American organized crime, Joseph Bonanno. Bonanno (played by Bruce Ramsay) left Sicily as a young man, eager to escape the tyranny of Benito Mussolini, but when he arrived in America, fate led him to a career on the wrong side of the law with the Castellamarese crime family. After his mentor was killed in a bloody feud with cadres of the Gambino family, Bonanno became the youngest man to lead a major crime syndicate in America. Bonanno's battles with Lucky Luciano (Vince Corazza) and his secret dealings with Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Matt Norklun) helped cement Bonanno's reputation as one of the most powerful criminals in the world. It didn't take long, however, for the gangster kingpin to discover that power breeds treachery, and as the years passed, Bonanno (now played by Tony Nardi) learned that both the FBI and some of his most loyal allies were working to put him out of business. Martin Landau plays the elderly Bonanno, who tells much of his life story in flashback as he visits his hometown in Sicily for the first time in many years. The supporting cast includes Robert Loggia, Costas Mandylor, Patti LuPone, and Edward James Olmos. Bonanno: A Godfather's Story was originally produced as a two-part miniseries for the Showtime premium cable network, but was later edited down to 139 minutes for release on home video.