Way before The Godfather

Before The Godfather, before even The Conformist (a past VSL pick), there was a groundbreaking little mob movie called Mafioso. Directed by a god of Italian cinema, Alberto Lattuada, the 1962 film was clearly ahead of its time, at least for American audiences: Back then it played for a heartbeat in New York, then it disappeared for almost half a century.

Fortunately, Rialto Pictures has restored this lost comic masterpiece about a Fiat factory foreman named Nino (Alberto Sordi) who drags his urbane wife and kids to his raggedy Sicilian hometown for a 10-day vacation that turns into a surreal, hellish misadventure.

Mafioso is simply astonishing: a perfect mix of farce and tragedy, a dark comedy that effortlessly shifts gears between fun (Nino’s daffy, rustic relatives can’t stand his snobby spouse!) and terror (Nino is unwittingly pressed into nefarious duty by the local Mafia don, who knew him as a boy).

HBO’s bumped the final Sopranos season back to April? Who cares? Mafioso will tide you over.

WATCH the trailer for Mafioso (in Italian with English subtitles)

CHECK theaters and dates (opening January 19 in New York and January 26 in Los Angeles; other cities to follow)

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