New Jersey may claim Tony Soprano, but Rhode Island now has the equally menacing mobster Tony “Untouchable” Martone, thanks to the imagination of a Connecticut author and filmmaker.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, “Tony Martone” tells the story of an East Providence-based mob boss nudged into a turf war with a rival gang. Filmed partly in Pawtucket and East Providence, the film is the creation of Joseph McGee, a Bristol, Connecticut, screenwriter.
And while the 40-year-old may be Irish and Polish, he grew up glued to movies about the Italian mob and reading equally violent books, like "Dracula."
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“I would read and paint pictures in my head. I wanted to have people see what I was thinking, which is where the filmmaking comes in,” McGee says. “When I’d be writing, I started wanting to turn the novels into movies.”
McGee, whose credits include the 2020 psychological thriller “For Bobby” and the World War II love story “Letters for Annie,” a book based on letters between members of the Lombardo family, says he was naturally drawn to creating “Tony Martone” because of his affinity for the genre.
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“I did it with my own twists — like setting it in East Providence and not on Federal Hill," McGee says of the fictional story. "I thought it was plausible and not already done.”
Filming locations in Rhode Island
He also opted to shoot in local spots like Pawtucket’s White Ash Cigar Lounge and Madeira Restaurant in East Providence, and signed local actors, such as Mario Carneiro, an East Providence accountant, who plays Tony. Other scenes were filmed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania from November 2021 to April 2022.
“The Martones and the Amatos, who are from New York, are rival families, and let’s just say there’s a poker game that doesn’t end well,” he says with a chuckle. “The Amatos want to bring the drug trade onto the Rhode Island docks, but while Tony literally owns everything else, he doesn’t want drugs around.”
'I didn’t want your typical mob movie'
While McGee lists the “Godfather” series, “Scarface” and “Donnie Brasco” as his favorite mafia movies, he didn’t want to produce the same exact style. His portrayal of Tony as paying off state and federal law enforcement and running illegal rackets is only part of his vision.
“I didn’t want your typical mob movie, so I added a lot of humor, and there are rats and a lot of double-crossing,” McGee says.
His company, McGee Productions, currently has two other projects in the works — a science fiction biker apocalypse movie and one with actor Tom Sizemore called “Mob Humor.”
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: New RI-based mob drama 'Tony Martone' now streaming on Amazon Prime