THE MAGNIFICENT DARE DEVIL (Luciano Ercoli, 1973) **1/2
Uneven and overlong but generally enjoyable thriller with tongue firmly in cheek, an engaging Hitchcockian premise, and plenty of action and stunts (as befits the rather misleading international title). Popular "Euro Cult" star Giuliano Gemma is a racing-car champ who suddenly finds himself embroiled in a murder case while at the same time pursued by thugs (from two different factions!) in search of a drug consignment; regular starlet Susan Scott (the director's wife) appears all-too-briefly as Gemma's shady lover and the murder victim involved.
Thankfully, the plot moves along at a fairly brisk pace the star is mysteriously aided in breaking jail and scours London for his missing car (where the drugs are stashed); his long-suffering stuttering mechanic gets beaten up for helping him, while Gemma hides out in the mansion of an old friend (where he meets a lovely ingénue with her own speech impediment). Meanwhile, it transpires that the insurance man who had offered his services not only was in cahoots with Scott but is behind the whole thing; when the woman tried to double-cross him by selling the drugs to a Greek competitor, he had her killed and framed Gemma for it!
What hampers the film is its gratuitous depiction of a number of gay stereotypes; as I said, however, the action sequences deliver the goods (so much so that stunt co-ordinator Remy Julienne gets his own prominent credit in the titles) best of all, perhaps, is the amazing explosion inside a greenhouse from which Gemma emerges miraculously unscathed.
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