Goncharov 1973: Martin Scorsese mafia film with Robert De Niro goes viral on Tumblr - does it really exist?

Have you heard about Martin Scorsese’s long lost 1973 film Goncharov?

Martin Scorsese is one of the biggest directors in the history of the film industry, with legions of fans having seen every single one of his movies, from Mean Streets to Taxi Driver, Raging Bull to Goodfellas, Cape Fear to Gangs of New York, The Wolf of Wall Street to The Irishman.

His work is extremely well known among film buffs everywhere, so many may be surprised to read that Scorsese has a long lost 1973 mafia movie called Goncharov - or does he?

This is everything you need to know about the film billed as “greatest mafia movie ever made”.

What is Goncharov?

In short, Goncharov tells the story of former discotheque owner Goncharov who settles in Naples with his wife, Katya, after leaving Russia. He begins to work his way up through the ranks of organised crime and, along the way, crosses paths with Andrey “The Banker” Daddano. Alongside all of this, Katya becomes entangled with a mysterious woman named Sofia.

The cast of Goncharov is almost exactly what you would expect for a mafia movie from Scorsese - heading up the cast as Goncharov himself is Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver), with Cybill Shepherd (The Client List, Psych) starring as his wife, Katya.

Robert de Niro attends a press conference for the presentation of the film “The King of Comedy” directed by US film director Martin Scorsese on May 07, 1983 during the Cannes International Film Festival. (Photo by RALPH GATTI/AFP via Getty Images)

Rounding out the rest of the cast, we have:

  • Al Pacino (House of Gucci, Scarface) as Mario Ambrosini
  • Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) as Andrey “The Banker” Daddano
  • Gene Hackman (The French Connection, The Royal Tenenbaums) as Valery Michailov 
  • John Cazale (Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfather) as Joseph “Ice Pick Joe” Morelli
  • Daniela Bianchi (From Russia with Love, Your Turn to Die) as Sofia “Kitty” Caterina 

Victor Argo (King of New York, Raw Deal), Liza Minnelli (Cabaret, Arrested Development), Giancarlo Espositio (Breaking Bad, The Usual Suspects) and Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room) are all also credited as enjoying cameos in the film as well.

Where can I watch it?

Well, here’s the thing - Goncharov, released in 1973, directed by Scorsese and starring the likes of De Niro, Pacino, Shepherd and Keitel, doesn’t actually exist. Goncharov is the result of an inside joke on Tumblr which users who have essentially willed it into existence with a plot, cast, posters, screenplay, fan art, scenes from the movie and everything else needed to make the fake film look convincing.

The joke stems from a post on Tumblr made a few years ago by a user who posted a picture of a pair of “knockoff boots” that they had bought online and that “instead of the brand name on the tag they have the name of an apparently nonexistent Martin Scorsese movie”. The picture showed the tag on one of the boots, which read: “Martin Scorsese presents: Goncharov”, and describes it as the “greatest mafia movie ever made”.

It adds that it is a “Domenico Proccacci production”, a film “by Matteo JHWJ0715” and that it’s “about the Naples mafia”. In August 2020 a different user reblogged the image and added a screenshot of a comment from a third Tumblr user which said: “This idiot hasn’t seen Goncharov.

The post that started it all (Photo: Tumblr)

Since then, the post has garnered over 170,000 notes on Tumblr, which refers to likes and reblogs on the social media platform. From there, other Tumblr users took the joke and ran with it, creating an entire film out of nothing.

As it stands, Goncharov has over 500 pieces of fanfiction written about it over on Archive of Our Own, one of the biggest fanfiction websites on the internet. Over 26 pages of results, you can find fanfiction written about pairings like Katya and Sofia, Goncharov and Andrey and Goncharov and Joseph.

It remains unclear how the tag on the boot that started Goncharov came to be - but this is what Tumblr user dogsuffrage, has to say. According to their investigation of the label on the boot which started it all, it appears that the tag may have been referring to the 2008 film Gomorrah, which was produced by Domenico Proacci, one of the names found on the boot tag.

While Scorsese isn’t the director of Gomorrah, the film sported a presentation credit from the director in order to boost its reception in America, with dogsuffrage finding a poster for Gomorrah which features the words “Martin Scorsese Presents” in a similar style to that on the boots’ label. The actual director of Gomorrah is Matteo Garrone, who has the same first name as the “Matteo JHWJ0715” on the tag.

Winner of Best Achievement in Directing for “The Departed” Martin Scorsese poses in the press room during the 79th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on February 25, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

The tagline for Gomorrah states, “Based on the best selling expose by Roberto Savino about the Naples mafia” - which sounds pretty similar to the story found on the boots that started Goncharov - and also quotes Stephen Schaefer from the Boston Herald as calling it “The greatest mafia movie ever made”.

If you want to get involved with Goncharov lore, the good news is that you can - Goncharov is basically just a game that people are playing on the internet, in which users are roleplaying as someone who has seen Goncharov (1973). You can add to the ongoing existence of the film by generating your own fan art, making up quotes from the movie or posting analysis from certain scenes - you can basically do whatever you want.

Fans of Goncharov have even compiled a Google Doc to keep track of the lore, from the plot to characters, reviews, production information and even trivia regarding the filming.