Charlie Valentine

 (AKA "The Hitmen Diaries"; 2009)

by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"You're a good-lookin' guy Charlie, but you're always going to look like a gangster."

So Charlie Valentine summarizes himself to his mirror image, but the description might just as accurately apply to the actor who plays Charlie, Raymond J. Barry. There is nothing in Barry's manner that suggests a movie gangster. He got his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Brown University, then went on to study at Yale. He supported himself as an English instructor at a private academy while he struggled to establish his acting career. He's soft-spoken and his diction is impeccable. Those are not exactly tough-guy credentials.

And yet there's that face. The face of a gangster.

Or maybe a general, or a cop, or a mad man. Somebody tough.

You say you don't know who Raymond J. Barry is? Yeah, I know you don't know his name, but you do know who he is. He's this guy:

A young Raymond J. Barry may have dreamt of playing Hamlet or Dorian Gray, but that was never in the cards. That face was just not destined to take any work from Colin Firth or Kenneth Branagh, so Barry learned to make a living by using his mien to create a different kind of tough guy - not the Scarface kind of bad-ass braggart, but the quiet menacing type who keeps his counsel until someone needs killin'.

That's the kind of guy Charlie Valentine is. He's 70-something, and he's made a lot of money in the life, but he's pissed it all away on top-shelf booze, gourmet food, and expensive women with hard bodies and soft beds. Having lived his life outside of the Social Security network, and with gangster pensions being non-existent, Charlie is old and broke. He needs a score. He goes for it by using inside knowledge to hit some fellow mobsters. It goes bad, and he is identified, so he has to flee from some fellows who are just not very nice at all. Needing to get off the grid, Charlie ends up hiding out in the apartment of his son whom nobody knows about, and who doesn't really know Charlie. Of course, Charlie is still broke and still needs a score, so his son becomes his partner.

You need to discover the rest of the plot on your own, but it wouldn't really matter if I told you the details, because the plot is predictable and the movie isn't about the plot anyway. It isn't about action either. It's really a serious drama disguised as a crime story, like one of those old black-and-white shows from the live TV era. Think "Requiem for a Heavyweight," except in color and with more explicit violence. This low-budget film is not a masterpiece, but it works, and what makes it work is its character development, plus the consistent tone and atmosphere that transports us to the filth-strewn back alleys, the underground gyms, the after-hours strip clubs, and the other ugly places where weary crooks plan desperate heists and hard men drink hard booze until violence erupts.


  No major reviews online.




6.3 IMDB summary (of 10)









  • Lisa Catara shows her breasts and buns.
  • Several strippers are seen in the background, but there are no full frontals.




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Watchable genre fare.