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Lee Van Cleef,
Discredited cop Henry Silva seeks the engineer of his frame-up
There is an Italian version of this movie titled "Frame Up" that reportedly runs 93 minutes. The movie I watched is that one. My copy was titled "Frame Up" and ran just a minute or so longer than 93 minutes. The alternate version, not reviewed here, runs 85 minutes and is titled "The Falling Man". The "Falling Man" version is not only shorter but also edited to tell a very different story that appears to be inferior; its music and dubbing are also said to be inferior to the longer Italian version.
"Frame Up" is a tough film noir that features Henry Silva as a discredited cop who makes his way through a sometimes seedy and hostile San Francisco to find who was behind the suspicions cast on him as the supposed shooter of an informant. One critic notes the prevalence of wide-angle shots and nervous cuts. These mirror the intense distress and imbalance that Silva displays throughout.
Henry Silva has been the victim of an attempted frame-up. He wasn't convicted but he was removed from the police force. He continues to act like a cop in order to track down the person who engineered the killing and his frame-up. Not only that, but in an attempt on his life to stop his drive to prove his innocence, his little son was killed. Then his wife left him.
Told with flashbacks, the story falls into the pattern of a detective story with the ex-inspector having a tough time making headway and sometimes being intentionally frustrated by his unknown adversary.
The music score is good 70s accompaniment, a mixture of pop, jazz, jazzy-funk and occasional dance music.
Silva is fine in the role. He is especially effective when the story calls for him to move, to emote silently and to be non-verbal. In those sequences, which are fairly frequent, I think he's hard to be outdone by any actor of his time. He therefore brings this fairly routine story to life.
Another element helping the presentation is that it immerses us in his predicament without much exposition. We learn as we go along his back story and what he is doing. This keeps the story fresh, suspenseful and makes it move.
Supporting roles are handled believably and effectively by all concerned, including Keenan Wynn.
I see this film as being above average, lifted by Silva's performance, the script and eye-catching cinematography. Certainly, it's a more than adequate and satisfying detective-noir of its period.
In just a few short years in the 70s, Silva would become a major presence in Italian poliziotteschis. Because of this and this being a crime story that involves a frustrated cop, which is often the case in poliziotteschis, "Frame Up" becomes a precursor of that genre.
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