It’s been called “the greatest Mafia movie ever made.” It follows the story of Goncharov, a former discotheque owner who comes to Naples, and begins to work his bloody way up through the ranks of organized crime. In the process, Goncharov becomes entangled with the lives of Andrey, a familiar face from home, and the Neapolitan mafioso Mario. All the while, his ambitions clash with that of his cunning wife, Katya.
The movie is very loosely based on the obscure 1961 speculative fiction novella Jestem Goncharov by Irma M. Schuss. The novella itself is now out of print. The film was similarly difficult to obtain for many years, due to distribution following its initial limited theatrical run being tied up by conflicting translation rights, the existence of at least seven alternate cuts of the film, rumored interference from the actual mafia, and a very… unorthodox advertising campaign which involved putting the ads not on billboards or movie theater walls, but on the tags for boots. For over two decades, many even considered it to be the Missing Episode of Scorsese’s canon, with Scorsese himself famously quipping that “We’ll probably see The Day the Clown Cried before we see Goncharov again.” The film was finally released on DVD and VHS in 1998, and has seen several re-releases since, bringing renewed appreciation for this long-forgotten masterpiece.