Who was the boss of bosses? According to this movie, he was Paul Castellano. A cousin-by-marriage to the notorious crime boss Carlo Gambino, Castellano grew up in New York City and first became a made man in the 1930s. After four decades of loyal service, Castellano succeeded Carlo as the boss of the Gambino Crime Family. As portrayed in this movie, Castellano attempted to keep the Gambinos out of the drug trade and tried to steer both his biological and his crime family into legitimate businesses. However, not everyone appreciated Castellano’s vision of the future and, in 1985, he was assassinated on the orders of his eventual successor, John Gotti.
Considering that this biopic was made for TNT and was directed by Dwight H. Little (who was best known for directing films like Halloween 4 and Free Willy 2), it’s probably not surprising that not a single mob cliché goes unturned in Boss of Bosses. At first, I had a hard time accepting Chazz Palminteri as Castellano because Palminteri sounded exactly like Joe Mantegna voicing Fat Tony on The Simpsons. Once I got over the vocal similarities, I saw that Palminteri was actually giving a very good, noncartoonish performance as Castellano but the film itself never convinces us that Castellano was anything more than a forgettable placeholder between the reigns of the legendary Gambino and the flamboyant Gotti.
Boss of Bosses, which is also known as Godfather of New York, is currently available on YouTube.