Gotti: Rise and Fall of a Mafia Don is a 1996 HBO original movie made for television, starring Armand Assante (as the famous Gambino crime family Boss John Gotti), William Forsythe, Anthony Quinn and many other actors who later joined the cast of the same network TV-series The Sopranos. The film was the highest rated original telefilm in HBO history at that time, according to IMDB. Assante won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special, for his performance. Assante also received a Golden Globe nomination the same year.
The movie begins in the 1970s and ends in 1992 with Gotti’s imprisonment. Gotti’s association with three mobsters is also highlighted in the film: a father-son like relationship with family Underboss Aniello “Mr. Neil” Dellacroce, his deep but rocky friendship with Gotti crew member and longtime friend Angelo Ruggiero, and the respect and ultimate frustration that he felt for the man who became his Underboss, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano. Within the context of Gotti’s own career, the film details Gotti’s rise within the Gambino crime family and his ranks from soldier, then captain (or capo), and finally, Boss. This latter title was achieved through the dramatic hit (murder) of Gambino family boss Paul Castellano in 1985, which is captured on screen as the climax of the movie. Following the murder of Castellano, the movie concentrates on the legal trials of John Gotti; one for assault, two for racketeering under the RICO statutes. The movie ends with Gotti’s conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment at Marion Federal Penetentiary in Marion, Illinois, due to the fact that his dear Underboss Gravano turns state’s evidence and agrees to testify against Gotti, after Gotti’s been using his famous personality and media attention to “duck” criminal convictions for almost a decade, which brought much unwanted attention to the Mafia.
The movie is primarly based on the columns of infamous Mafia reporter Jerry Capeci, who also wrote the novel that documented Gotti’s rise and fall inside the Gambino crime family, as well as serving as executive producer of the film which was based on his novel.