Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 16, 2018

The Mafia and the class struggle, part two

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film,mafia — louisproyect @ 11:00 pm

(Apologies for not providing trailers for “Salvatore Giuliano” and “100 Steps” in English. There are none. However, the trailers can give you a flavor of the sort of intense drama you’ll find in the subtitled full versions, which are relatively easier to track down.)


Eleven years ago I went to a press screening at the Film Forum for the revival of “Mafioso”, a 1962 dark comedy directed by Alberto Lattuada. It was unlike any mafia film I had ever seen, either in the Scorsese/Coppola vein or comic fare like “Analyze This” and “Married to the Mob”.

It moved seamlessly from a satire on Sicilian customs in the village Calamo, which is dominated by a Godfather figure named Don Vincenzo, to the film’s climax when the main character, who had been visiting relatives in the village, was forced to carry out a hit on an American gangster–a total stranger to him. It was made clear to him by the gangster that if he did not follow orders, he and his family would be killed instead. As has been the case with the mafia going back to its origins in the 1860s, violence, extortion and comity are often mixed together. As Don Vito Corleone put it in “The Godfather”, “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse”.

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  1. Francesco Rosi has also made a film on that important figure in US foreign policy Salvatore Lucanici, ‘Luck Luciano’ (1973). The leading actor was Gian Maria Volonté, in life a militant Communist. Rod Steiger is also in the cast as a dumb mafiosa. He comments to Lucky at one point how great it must have been in ancient times to have all those slaves under you. Lucy, sour, replies: But an asshole like you would have been one of them.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 17, 2018 @ 7:33 am

  2. Read ‘Lucky’ of course. It’s still first-espresso time in Italy

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 17, 2018 @ 7:36 am

  3. Peter, I will be discussing the Luciano film in a future piece. Fortunately, it is online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKWzOZxXAZI, even if the Italian is dubbed.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 17, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

  4. You need to create a catagory heading, Organized Crime

    Comment by Curt Kastens — November 18, 2018 @ 11:46 pm

  5. OOps sorry, I missed the mafia catagory heading. But even using that I did not see part one. Noor did I see a link to part one.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — November 18, 2018 @ 11:57 pm

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