hallucinatory Italian crime-espionage vehicle for Henry Silva
This 1967 Italian feature stars Henry Silva as a man about to be executed for murder. He then is executed, but wait...who's this other character played by Henry Silva? That's just the first of many tricks and double crosses in this strange, brooding film that seems to exist in someone's nightmare world. Nothing is sure here. The photography and an odd, multi-styled musical score help to create a disquieting, nightmare-like feel to the film. Fred Beir is co-billed with Silva, but his role is small compared with Silva's. Silva was no doubt chosen for this role because of his important part in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which this resembles in a vague way. I've tried to watch this film twice before over the years, but the time never seemed right and I never really got into the film's feel or rhythm. This time around, I've come to believe that the fractured, convoluted structure is intentional (which the fractured musical score--ranging from garage rock, to twangy eurospy guitar, to loungey vocals, to strange Gothic harpsichord music that would sound appropriate if Christopher Lee were about to emerge from a coffin in the dank cellar of a rotting castle somewhere--helps to underscore). In hindsight, it's no convoluted than the average Eurospy film and certainly LESS convoluted than the average Edgar Wallace film from Germany. There's some location shooting in New York and in Germany, and Mr. Silva is as intense and memorable as ever. Except for the lead actors, all the other credits on my English-language copy of this film are phony and Anglicized. It's also a pan-and-scan version of a film originally shot in techniscope. This is not the film to watch at the end of a long day--you must pay attention to it. I'd love to see a restored letterbox DVD of it--perhaps that will happen sometime in the next twenty years?
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