The Don is Dead (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Contrary to what you might be assuming, this is not a film about the demise of Mr Trump. That would be "The Donald is Dead". Nobody knows him well enough to call him "The Don".

The Don is Dead is actually a mob family story which came out in between the two Godfather movies, and shares some elements with The Godfather. For example, our main man, Abe Vigoda, is in this film as well as in The Godfather, and both films feature a single day of orchestrated and synchronized violence, although there is no accompanying baptism this time.


Angel Tompkins flashed a nipple ever so briefly.

The Godfather was directed by a 33 year old man who was creating a new Hollywood system. The Don is Dead was directed by a 57 year old man, in his 30th year as a director, who was a slave to the old Hollywood. Richard Fleischer directed his first film when Francis Coppola was five, and he was truly a product of the old studio system. Most if not all of the urban street scenes in The Don is Dead were filmed on the back lot at Universal Studios, on the same familiar intersections that have appeared in God knows how many other movies. Unlike the beautiful original symphonic compositions in the score for The Godfather, The Don is Dead film has your typical flowery Broadway type of music that one might find in nearly every mainstream Hollywood movie from the studio system era.

And then there's this:

The Godfather: Al Pacino and Marlon Brando.

The Don is Dead: Rochester's own Robert Forster* and Zorba the Crook.

In other words, it's the quickie Grade B knockoff version of The Godfather.

The plot of the film can be deduced entirely from the title. A Don dies, a power struggle ensues. Two of the three warring parties make peace, but the Machiavellian consigliere of the third family tricks the leaders of the other two factions into sleeping with the same woman, then finding out about each other, so the war resumes until a new permanent order can be determined.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85

* A sidebar about Robert Forster. I grew up in Rochester, New York, and lived there when Forster's career was first blossoming. In our town he had his own adjectival phrase. It is no simple matter for a noun to get an adjective permanently attached to it. Las Vegas has one - fabulous Las Vegas Nevada. The House Ways and Means Committee has one - it's always the prestigious House Ways and Means Committee. In Upstate New York, Forster was always Rochester's own Robert Forster in all newspaper and TV reports, and that phrase is so ingrained in my consciousness that even today, although I have not lived in Rochester in three decades, I still slip occasionally and refer to him as "Rochester's own Robert Forster". Any upstate New Yorker of my generation would understand the reference immediately, but my fellow Texans give my some pow'ful strange looks when I do that.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews on line

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. I guess it is watchable if you haven't the ambition to find the remote, but don't go out of your way to see it.

Return to the Movie House home page