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I'm a big fan of Sergio Sollima's ingenious Spaghetti Westerns, and
Charles Bronson is without doubt a great enrichment to any movie he
played in. Sollima's "Citta Violenta" aka. "Violent City" aka. "The
Family" of 1970 is a very good crime/action flick with Bronson in the
leading role and a great score by Ennio Morricone. "The Family" may not
quite share the brilliance of Sollima's Westerns, but it is definitely
a very solid, greatly acted film that no Bronson fan can afford to
After hit man Jeff Heston (Charles Bronson) is double crossed by his girlfriend (Bronson's real life wife Jill Ireland), and almost gets killed by rival gangsters, he spends the following four years in prison. After getting out of jail, he wants to track down those who betrayed him. It is not so easy, however, to find out who was involved in his assassination attempt, and Heston has to make quite an effort to distinguish between friends and enemies.
Charles Bronson is once again great as the leading character, and definitely the best choice to play Jeff Heston. Telly Savalas also delivers a great performance as the boss of a crime family. Although many folks seem to think differently, I also found that Jill Ireland did a great job as femme fatale Vanessa. One of the few things that were not quite necessary in "Citta Violenta", were the endless car chases. Car chases are of course mandatory for a film like this, but when they get too long, they can get a bit boring easily. The car chase sequences here are usually followed by violent action, however. The movie is quite imaginatively photographed, and Ennio Morricone's score is, as always, great, and although it is a bit different to the 'typical' Morricone that we're used to from Westerns, it is immediately clear who composed this soundtrack.
A very well made action flick with a great leading performance by Bronson, "Citta Violenta" is a great flick, maybe not quite as essential as Sollima's Westerns, but immensely entertaining, atmospheric and totally badass, and not to be missed by a Bronson fan. 8/10
First of all i must admit that i'm a Charles Bronson fan and have been for quite a while. I have seen a lot of his films including all of them made after Violent City. So when i came across the movie being released on DVD and i was still yet to see it, i was quick to buy it. The DVD is presented in a fantastic format (trailer, production and movie stills, 15 minute interview with the director and cast and crew backgrounds). The movie is structured in a very unique way. Being an Italian/French coproduction and filmed largely in New Orleans the film consists of English and Italian dialogue to satisfy both cultures and uses flashback scenes to illustrate what is a very straightforward story of hitmen and mobsters and doublecrossings. The music score is by Ennio Morricone and as expected first rate. The cast is headed by Bronson. He doesn't talk much in this movie, more so than in his other outings and uses more of a physical style of acting with many close ups on his charactaristic face. He does well as usual. Telly Savalas has a small, but important role as the head of his "family". His philosiphies to Bronson are interesting. And Jill Ireland as Vanessa is truly seductive. She has never looked more beautiful than in this movie and you get to see plenty of her in this version. Her acting is not great but not too bad compared to some of her later stuff with her husband. As a whole i wasn't expecting too much but "Violent City" is quite under-rated and does have some very good scenes including a car chase, a sniper scene and the very well done ending. There are no good guys in this movie, but it is truthful. I give it a 7 out of 10, but i don't know if non-Bronson fans would enjoy it as much. I hope they continue to put more of Charlie's films on DVD and done in a similar way. Particularly "Rider On The Rain", "The Mechanic", "The Valachi Papers" and the little known Bronson/Curtis "You Can't Win 'Em All.
Now this is right up my alley; a New Orleans alley full of duplicitous
whores and seedy criminals. The unrivaled Charles Bronson in one of his
better roles of the 1970's, and as always his awkwardly wide eyed
on-screen/off-screen partner Jill Ireland is along for the ride shaking
her ass the whole time. People always gush over his hit-man role in The
Mechanic, and while that character may have slightly more depth, the
hit-man story in Violent City is far more engaging than that 1972 romp.
It starts off into what you would think is a basic revenge tale, but
after that element is fulfilled and there is still more than an hour to
go in the film, the plot verges into increasingly weird and dark
This is an Italien production directed by Sergio Sollima and the movie has a dubbed look unfortunately. The filming is on location in New Orleans? Italy? I don't know, i've never been to either place, but the setting has a real vivid feel to it; in particular there is one scene on an estate that is surrounded by an eerie swampland with abandoned ghost boats that always creeps me out. The musical score by Ennio Morricone adds the perfect gritty/dirty touch to the film and is quintessential 1970's style. R rated, so there is a good dose of female nudity and some really fake (but nonetheless bloody) gunshot action, and Bronson delivers his tough guy power play persona well by busting arms in car doors. Speaking of cars, there is some superb French Connection/Bullitt style driving footage in this film, makes me wish to see it in the theater.
I came to this movie from being a Bronson fan, not a Sergio Sollima fan, and although I notice some Sollima fans on here saying this is one of his lesser pictures, having seen most of Bronson's 1970's output, I can say it is at least one of his best efforts. Highly recommended mainly for Bronson fans, but also for 1970s-cinemaphiles, or in general people who like a sleazy blurring of sex and violence in their movies.
After the highly entertaining Run,Man, Run, writer/ Director Sergio
Sollima returned with this satisfying,if not all successful, tale of a
hit-man, Jeff, who gained a conscience (Charles Bronson) and his quest
to find the people who've double-crossed him and had him thrown in jail
(and almost killed). Mrs. Bronson, Jill Ireland, is on hand as the
conniving girlfriend who along with local mafioso boss, Weber (Telly
Savalas) play him for a patsy. Entertaining enough and the re-added
minutes of footage in the Anchor Bay released DVD of this is very
welcome. Any fellow Bronson appreciator will find nothing to complain
about with this one, and Jill (it very well could be a body double
though) supplies the T&A content quite nicely (and multiple times).
Fans of the director will be slightly off-put as this isn't as good as
his films that came directly before (Run, Man, Run, The Big Gundown,
Face to Face), nor after (Revolver) all of which are highly recommended
by me by the way. However this is still a welcome enough diversion.
My Grade: B-
Director Sollima first forsook the Western genre with this stylish
gangster drama: its complex revenge plot is, basically, a combination
of two seminal American noirs – OUT OF THE PAST (1947) and POINT BLANK
(1967). The end result is overlong and deliberately-paced – but the
second half generates considerable tension, and the action sequences
(particularly the opening car chase, a racing-car ‘accident’ and the
climactic shoot-out in a rising elevator which, incidentally, are all
the more effective for being completely dialogue-free) are undeniably
well-staged and exciting.
The film also provided its star, Charles Bronson, with a virtual template for all his subsequent vehicles; though his real-life wife Jill Ireland (who appears in a surprising number of nude scenes) doesn’t quite cut it as a femme fatale, the couple’s chemistry is more than evident and gives credence to the on/off romance which essentially drives the narrative. Also in the cast: Telly Savalas (in his all-too-typical role of crime kingpin), Umberto Orsini (as a shady lawyer) and Michel Constantin (as Bronson’s ageing junkie pal). Beneficial, too, is the unusual New Orleans setting – and the remaining credentials are certainly imposing: “Euro Cult” fixture Ennio Morricone’s score is excellent (but, again, the main theme is awfully similar to that of REVOLVER  and THE UNTOUCHABLES !); renowned cinematographer Aldo Tonti; and, most astonishingly, co-screenwriter Lina Wertmuller.
The DVD features an informative 15-minute interview with Sollima, in which he discusses how he became involved with the project: invariably, he had found the original script terrible but was eventually lured by the opportunity of a U.S. shoot, mentions that the lead roles were originally intended for Jon Voight and Sharon Tate(!), and even recalls an amusing anecdote which sums up Morricone’s attitude to films.
There's absolutely no way that any movie can start off better than "Violent City". Charlie Bronson on a yacht with a ravishing blond chick, then moving onto land where the couple immediately gets subjected to a wild car chase through extremely narrow streets (and over stairs!) and ending with a violent shootout! And all this time not a single word is being spoken by anyone and all we here are the sounds of squeaking tires, snorting car engines and Ennio Moricone's umpteenth fabulous soundtrack. The first ten minutes of "Violent City" are so damn brilliant I was even tempted to stop watching the film because I honestly feared things could only go downwards from that point, ha! Luckily it didn't. Sure the pacing slowed down a bit (only a little bit, mind you) but a great film unfolds itself, with a simplistic but nevertheless compelling plot, gritty atmosphere and terrific acting performances by Charles Bronson (as the silent as always but deadly killer), Telly Savalas (as the sneering, sleazy and eccentric super-villain) and Jill Ireland (as the bimbo who appears to screw around with half of the city). Jeff is a retiring hit man who completes one more personal killing job when a former friend double-crosses him, leaves him for dead and runs off with his lady friend. Jeff's spectacular payback, executed at a race car circuit) gets him noticed by the big boss of the city's organized crime network. He wants Jeff to be a part of his successful crime-family, and when he refuses an exhilarating and testosterone-packed cat and mouse game ensues. The plot isn't highly original, but several independent sequences are magnificent, like the aforementioned opening, the intense finale or most of all the scene where Vanessa gets introduced to Weber (Savalas) in a restaurant. Sergio Sollima is a gifted director, who primarily earned his fame in the spaghetti western genre ("The Big Gundown" and "Run Man Run"). That's also exactly what "Violent City" often resembles; a gritty urban western with Bronson in his familiar role of lone outlaw passing through a town where no one can be trusted. If I understood correctly, the titular violent city is supposed to be Michigan, where strangely everyone speaks a combination of English and Italian. Funny detail on the Dutch DVD-release is that the dubbing is incomplete. Some of the dialogs start in English but halfway the conversation swifts to Italian and back to English again. Not at all bothering, especially not in case you looked forward to this movie as much as I did.
Charles Bronson at his best? In a way yes, but maybe no. I guess it all
depends in what you want to see. An all out action film, moving like a
speeding car (in which the opening sequence ---and what a beginning it
is! --- has a beautifully staged car chase through the slender streets
of the Virgin Islands) and throwing caution to the wind. Well that
would be a no on that aspect. However something a little twisty within
its narrative, tension building through its dramatic story developments
and brooding atmospherics with a watershed performance by Bronson. I
would go yes.
After a double-cross that leaves him for dead, professional hit man Jeff survives and serves some time before tracking down the culprit - an old friend and his former mistress to New Orleans. Jeff gets revenge and his lady back, but he finds himself being blackmailed by an influential crime boss Al Weber.
Bronson at this period of his career was etching out a name through European productions and "Violent City" aka "The Family" happens to be one of those better enterprises. Italian director Sergio Sollima ("The Big Gundown", "Run, Man, Run" and "Revolver") stylishly lays out the rough and ready groundwork like a fuse waiting to ignite. The slow-tempo works, due to the plots knotty structure of betrayals and double-crossings with slice of tragedy in something of a modern western vibe and these moments are either broken up by reflective instances (like splicing together flashbacks), getting reactions in a game of wits between characters or relentlessly dynamic and imaginative action sequences. Sollima's crisp cinematography frames it all with remarkable long shots and showy camera angles, as the visuals are simply stunning and the location work is brought live by its authentically flavoured New Orleans backdrop. Ennio Morricone composes the scorching music score, which is excitingly cued with its majestically saucy edge but despite the masterful effort I thought the greatest sequences arose from the silent periods in the intensely crackling opening spectacle and climatic finale passage of the film (which was beautifully unsettling). The tight screenplay keeps it sly and cynical, but at the core behind its engagingly complicated plot mechanisms is a simple minded, but seething revenge outlook. The acting fairs-up with more of a physical, but terse performance by Bronson, which his silent and tough persona fitted right at home with. There's burning conviction by Jill Ireland with her tantalizingly devious turn and Terry Savalas is living it up as a powerful crime figure. Umberto Orsini and Michel Constantin are quite good too.
A gritty, compelling crime potboiler.
I've been watching a lot of these Italian cop flicks recently, but
unfortunately; Violent City isn't one of the best. The film was
released before Dirty Harry (unlike the rest of the genre), so it does
deserve some credit for originality. That's not to say it's bad by any
means, but this Charles Bronson vehicle doesn't entertain on the same
level as a lot of the rest of the genre. There are certainly a lot of
good things about this film; but unfortunately, there's also a lot of
bad and the film features long stretches where little or nothing
happens, which certainly isn't to its credit. It's a shame really as
this has the basis to be one of the best of the Italian crime films
just because of the fact that it stars the 'man of few words' Charles
Bronson. The plot is pretty standard stuff, and focuses on a hit-man
that is double crossed by his friend and girlfriend. After getting out
of jail, he decides to take revenge on those that wronged him. However,
some way into his revenge; he begins being blackmailed by a powerful
crime boss that wants the hit-man in his organisation.
Charles Bronson has a lot of screen presence, despite the fact that this role doesn't really suit him. His character is called 'Jeff' (it's really hard to imagine the grizzled Charles Bronson being called "Jeff"), and it's also rather difficult to imagine him having the women after him... The film's positives are, luckily, enough to save it from being a complete loss. The opening car chase is really good, and provides the perfect opening to the film. From there, we are treated to a handful of good action scenes, including plenty of shooting (a given, since the lead character is a hit-man). The sequence at the end is the best part of the film, as it's both exciting and inventive, and provides the perfect way for our lead character to get his revenge. The support cast isn't great, and features Telly Savalas, who is decent enough and Jill Ireland, who looks nice throughout. However, the plotting continually gets in the way and the fact that the film doesn't run smoothly greatly hinders it. Overall, Violent City certainly has its moments; but it's not one of the best crime films to come out of Italy during the seventies.
This is a very underrated gangster pic that stars "Old Stoneface" himself.
The plot is standard revenge fodder with a few twists added in for fun. It's
pretty fast paced in it's execution and Morricone score is weird and
atmostpheric. This is one of Charlie's better 70's efforts and the final
scene is great filmmaking. It's too bad Ms. Ireland's nude scenes were cut
out (only her midsection and cleavage are shown before cutting to the next
scene) cause she can't act worth a damn.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
VIOLENT CITY is definitely not your average Charles Bronson action
extravaganza, but there is so much more going on than you think.
Italian filmmaker Sergio Sollima (REVOLVER, THE BIG GUNDOWN) brings his
energetic flair from his Spaghetti Westerns to this exciting tale of
revenge loosely based on Jean Pierre Melville's LE SAMOURAI. From
watching the stunning opening credits sequence, the audience knows
they're in for a rough, wild ride.
In one of his first starring roles, Charles Bronson brings his laconic screen presence into the role of professional hit man Jeff Heston. As his former mistress Vanessa, Jill Ireland conveys innocence and sensuality within every emotion of the character. Telly Savalas gives his most sinister performance as the crime kingpin Al Weber so convincingly that I was immediately baffled and mesmerized at the same time.
From watching the car chase in the Bahamas, my eyes were literally glued to the screen. Turbo-charged engine cars crashing, unlimited amount of speeding, no dialog and no music. Perfecto. The race track scene is also another highlight of the film. As the ricocheting bullet nails a tire, a racing car crashes into a brick wall causing it to explode. That by the way is a sweet revenge.
Ennio Morricone (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE UNTOUCHABLES) delivers a magnificent, pulse-pounding score as always ranging from the orchestral to the psychedelic. Cameraman Aldo Tonti takes advantage of the Techniscope format with stunning compositions and tight close-ups.
There may be no way to recommend VIOLENT CITY except that it's a striking masterpiece of the always-overlooked Eurocrime genre.
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