Colini, an exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed "Johnny Cool," Colini ... See full summary »
Colini, an exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed "Johnny Cool," Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini's list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta. Written by
When Johnny and Dare last part, they agree to meet "tomorrow night, 7:00 at The Real Tony's". The next morning Dare says "he'll be in a restaurant called The Real Tony's 7:00 tomorrow night" but it would actually be that night. See more »
There's murder and mayhem to spare in this wild ride through the underworld of the early 1960s.
There's simply no one who could play a merciless killer better than Henry Silva, with his beady black eyes, and that inimitable smirk which plays across his face as he dispatches his victims. Here he's put to perfect use as a remorseless "messenger boy of death" sent by deported mobster Johnny Colini (Marc Lawrence) to settle scores with Colini's former associates in the US.
In the odd and somewhat awkward opening scenes of "Johnny Cool", we're introduced to Silva's character as a young boy in Sicily. When fascists kill his mother, he's adopted by the hill bandits who rescued him. Next we see him as a bandit chief, a sort of Sicilian Robin Hood who's an honored guest at a local wedding. Which makes Silva's seemingly easy transition to a cold-blooded hit man a bit inexplicable, after Colini on his own initiative bribes the authorities to fake the bandit's death. I have a feeling there's something missing here; maybe the novel explained it better.
But once Silva -- who at the mobster's behest has taken Colini's name for his own -- hits New York, the movie shifts into high gear, and from that point on it never lets up. Bouncing from New York to Vegas to LA and back, the new Johnny Colini -- or "Johnny Cool" as he's inevitably nicknamed -- eliminates his targets with icy aplomb, leaving a trail of corpses to mark his journey through the underworld.
Along the way, he gets involved with bored little rich girl Darien 'Dare' Guiness (Elizabeth Montgomery), who demonstrates dramatic chops which may come as quite a surprise to those who only know her as Samantha from the TV series "Bewitched". Though she's basically a decent person, something within her is fascinated by the darkness she senses in Johnny, and she's swiftly drawn into the violence that swirls around him. He loves her, but of course in traditional "Beauty and the Beast" fashion, it will be his undoing.
Besides being produced by Peter Lawford and featuring a couple of songs by fellow Rat Pack member Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as cameos by Davis and Joey Bishop, this film sports a striking assemblage of actors in supporting roles: from up-and-comers like Telly Savalas to noir and gangster flick icons like Elisha Cook, Jr. and Robert Armstrong, to some not-so-obvious choices for mob bosses in Jim Backus and Mort Sahl. In his brief appearance Sahl leaves quite an impression, as he greets the prospect of his imminent death with a sort of weary, good-humored resignation. He correctly divines Johnny's fate, offering him some rueful advice that he really should have taken.
And Silva's final scene is unbelievably wrenching, incredibly disturbing for all that it lacks any gore or overt violence. I guarantee you, you will never forget it.
This is a neat little film, compact and brutal as a sawed-off shotgun. While not as stylishly executed as later gangster revenge sagas like "Point Blank" or the original "Get Carter", this one still carries one hell of a punch.
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