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|Index||11 reviews in total|
Powerful and excessively violent riff on THE GODFATHER. This colorful and
strangely romantic film takes place in a gritty real-life Italian ghetto, a
drab and terror-filled place full of poor folks in shacks, tiny red Fiats,
silk-shirted dudes and sexy chicks in miniskirts. Jack Palance, his face
looking truly demented, smirks and smokes
endlessly from a cigarette holder, doing his damndest to look like
mob kingpin, but coming across more like a visiting tourist. Our two pretty
boys run around Rome in their goofy little red Puma GT dune buggy,
karate-kicking all the bad guys without getting their hair mussed, and
sleeping with the local tramps. (Intentional) comic relief is provided by
the hilarious Vittorio Capriol, who plays Napoli, a retired mobster who
likes to wise-crack and sleep alot. Lots of fighting, and a cool, bloody
climax in an abandoned slaughterhouse.
Cool, downbeat jazz score by Luis Enriquez Bacalov.
Charming movie. Fun and entertaining poliziottesco that doesn't take itself too serious. The Italian DVD is wide screen and includes the superior Italian dub (with English subtitles); don't see the American crappy DVD's that are out there. It also has nice extra's and even those are subtitled. Hail to Raro Video. The soundtrack is strange and original. And it works quite well. I wonder if it is out there on CD. The big name is of course Jack Palance, but my favorite character in the movie is Napoli, played by Vittorio Caprioli. Perhaps not one of Fernando Di Leo's best, but very entertaining indeed. Underrated by the IMDb-users, probably because of the horrible American DVD's.
Writer/director Fernando Di Leo chronologically made three of the most
stupendously amazing "Poliziottesco" (hardcore Italian cop/gangster
thrillers) milestones with "Milano Caliber .9", "La Mala Ordina" and
"Il Boss". I respectively granted those films with rating 10/10, 9/10
just to indicate how powerful and overwhelming they are. Di
Leo honestly was a brilliant but sadly underrated director who really
knew how to make hardcore-to-the bone action movies. There are no good
or loyal characters in Fernando Di Leo's depiction of the Italian
There are only vicious and emotionless gangsters that would
butcher their own parents in order to climb one small step up the
ladder of power & influence. Although nearly not as brilliant as the
aforementioned trio, Di Leo's later films keep featuring the same story
elements. "Rulers of the City" the literally translated title which I
vastly prefer over "Mister Scarface" is another mafia flick full of
ultra-sadistic characters, nasty double-crossings, merciless
executions, brutal bare-knuckle fistfights and explosive vendettas.
Tony is a smooth and handsome but insignificant guy who works as a debt collector for Luigi Cherico; the number #2 gangster boss of Naples. He wants to make an impression on his boss and ingeniously plunders 10 million Lire from the absolute biggest crime lord in town, the feared and relentless Scarface. Tony unwillingly evokes a mafia war in Naples and finds himself in between the two camps. Luckily he receives help from an elderly Mafiosi and a mysterious blond shooting expert with an old personal vengeance to settle. "Rulers of the City" has a well- written and fast-paced script, and all the fistfight battles and shootout sequences are exhilarating and brute. The film also benefices from neat camera-work and a terrific score provided by Di Leo's regular composer Luis Bacalov. Still, "Rulers of the City" suffers from two serious defaults that simply cannot be neglected. First of all, everything is done to make it seems like the entire film orbits around Jack Palance and his character Mr. Scarface, but his role honestly isn't that extended or fundamental. The DVD-cover image that I own illustrates Jack Palance looking bewildered and firing off a machine gun, but never at one point during this movie he takes the effort of even picking up a weapon. Secondly, what's with the homo-erotic undertones in this film? It isn't too abnormal that there generally aren't many female lead roles in Italian gangster movies, but this one exaggerates! The only women in this film are secretaries, prostitutes and walking eye-candy on the sidewalk. Furthermore the hints at homosexuality are downright bizarre and misplaced. The older Mafiosi Vincenzo Napoli is obviously gay, with his pink scarves and feminine gestures the entire time, but even the two lead actors could easily pass for a cute couple. Whenever they're driving around the city in Tony's flamboyant buggy, they look like an advertisement campaign for coming out of the closet and the only thing missing is a slogan on the bottom of the screen saying "it's okay to be gay".
I had first watched this on the big screen as part of the Italian
B-movie retrospective held during the 2004 Venice Film Festival (where
6 features by Di Leo were shown); back then, I didn't like it - rating
it ** and feeling that it was rather unbalanced by the vulgar comedy
relief (though typical of Italian films during this era), especially
when compared to the director's other relatively more sober stuff
(which had proved my first encounter with his work)!
Watching it again as part of a mini-tribute to its star, Jack Palance (who passed away recently), I found myself a lot more receptive to it; Di Leo dabbled most often in the crime genre and, as can be deduced from the title, this one falls into that category: the plot, dealing with a gang war (one faction controlled by Palance and the other by Edmund Purdom), is no great shakes but, at its centre is a revenge plan involving Palance and young misfit Al Cliver (whose identity is unknown to the 'boss'); this element gives it an undeniable edge, and the exciting climax takes place at a massive abandoned slaughterhouse - where an old betrayal and murder had taken place.
As is typical of the director, the action is pretty constant and always dynamic - aided by a fine eclectic score by Luis Enrique Bacalov; there's a discreet amount of nudity and, as I said, a slight overdose of comedy: however, as I watched more films by Di Leo (totaling nine so far), I realized that this was basically an idiosyncrasy of his (evident even in a straight melodrama such as LA SEDUZIONE ) but, in any case, I generally appreciated its style of humor now - especially when delivered by Di Leo regular Vittorio Caprioli (my favorite bit occurs towards the end, when he shoots the bad guys at close range with a bunch of guns he purchased for an eventual showdown but, constantly missing the mark, reasons to himself that the weapons must be defective and, therefore, he ought to return them and file a complaint to boot!).
Palance is suitably sinister and imposing - even if he probably spends more time being had, so to speak, than dishing it out! In the end, what's missing from the film vis-a'-vis Di Leo's other genre work is a strong hero (i.e. a credible opponent to Palance) in the vein of Gastone Moschin (from THE CONTRACT ), Mario Adorf (from THE Italian CONNECTION ) and Henry Silva (from WIPEOUT! )...
"Rulers of the City" is enjoyable for fans of the Italian crime flick,
with a fast moving story and a sense of humour to let you know that
it's never taking itself too seriously. The actors are all good and the
film is effectively violent without ever getting very bloody. True
enough that it may not be all that believable, but it *is*
entertaining, if not memorable in the end. Director Fernando Di Leo was
prolific in this genre and the viewer may want to check out his other
works; they're available in DVD and Blu-ray box sets from Raro Video.
The amiable Harry Baer stars as Tony, a young debt collector who's tired of his go-nowhere job. So he hatches a scheme with aging mobster Napoli (Vittorio Caprioli) and his new friend Rick (Al Cliver of "Zombi 2") to con big time hood Manzari (Jack Palance) out of several million. Naturally, things don't work out the way that they want and they end up having to make a stand against Manzari and his goons.
It's enjoyable to see this international, familiar cast at work. Palance is convincing as the bad guy, the engaging Caprioli supplies a good deal of the comedy relief, Edmund Purdom (the dean in "Pieces") has a welcome presence as mafioso Luigi Cherico, the lovely Gisela Hahn provides the eye candy (and also sings some tunes), and Enzo Pulcrano is amusing as volatile jerk Peppi, who's out to get Tony. Co-scriptwriter Peter Berling also plays the role of Valentino in the film.
All in all, this is pleasant to watch, with a reasonably rousing action climax and an eclectic score by Luis Bacalov.
Seven out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An OK Italian crime thriller from director Fernando Di Leo. Harry Baer is a low level collector for a mafia don who swindles a rival Mafioso (Jack Palance) out of some money. The rival wants revenge. Baer and his clever cohorts thwart Palance and his goons at every turn. Not exactly the action packed thriller you'd expect from Di Leo, but still fairly entertaining. Baer gives an energetic performance and most of the supporting players are great. Palance, who's top-billed though off screen much of the time, smokes and growls. He's called "Scarface" throughout (he has a pronounced scar over his left eye). The music by Luis Enriquez Bacalov is dynamite and the photography by Erico Menczer captures a particularly sunny Rome circa 1976. Edmund Purdom appears briefly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fernando Di Leo was responsible for a trio of absolutely great
poliziotteschi films Milan Calibre 9, The Boss and The Italian
Connection. All of them were dynamic and energetic with great
characters and inspired action. Unfortunately, Rulers of the City is
nowhere near as good and is a significantly lesser movie.
It's about a young, minor protection money collector who carries out a scam to steal 10 million lira from the city's top gangster leading to all-out gang war.
Jack Palance and Edmund Purdom are perhaps the biggest stars here. They both play the respective crime bosses and both are wasted in their roles to be perfectly honest. Purdom only gets to mope around for a bit and then is shot in the head, while Palance should really be a bigger, more threatening presence but he never is. He hovers in the background but never gets to assert his authority very much. The movie is promoted in a way that makes you believe that Palance is the big bad guy but he is killed off way before the end of the climax in a somewhat underwhelming scene. The final shoot-out sequence in the old slaughterhouse is pretty uninvolving in general. The bad guys are pretty hopeless throughout the movie. They are thwarted at every turn easily by the heroes who are three men in a dune buggy (great vehicle to drive around town in when you are trying to keep a low profile by the way). These guys never feel like they are ever under threat and as a result there is little suspense. There is additionally a revenge plot-line running concurrently. It begins with a slow-motion dream-like encounter from the past and the whole thing really reminded me of the sort of plot that you would find in a spaghetti western. But again, it isn't very well done and could actually have been removed entirely with little or no damage to the film at all.
Rulers of the City is a pretty mediocre Italian crime film. It pales by comparison to others in Di Leo's filmography.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read a couple of good reviews on this board for "Mr. Scarface", but for anyone uninitiated in the genre of Italian gangster films like myself, the picture will probably make very little sense. Indeed, after the initial setup involving the ten million lira scam, the picture devolved into a fairly routine revenge flick with a minor twist in the identity of Rick's (Al Cliver) character. The whole gang war plot got muddied up for me with the inclusion of Vinchenzo Napoli (Vittorio Caprioli), but as most other viewers commented, he's about the only one who gave this picture any life with his often ineffective attempts at violence. I found it somewhat unbelievable that Manzari's goons who chased Tony through the streets didn't actually stroke out before Tony even laid a hand on them. For all of his buildup as the title character, Jack Palance was wasted rather unceremoniously in an anticlimactic near finale, making the U.S. working title, "Mr. Scarface", rather moot. I've seen enough spaghetti Westerns to know that they don't all work; I guess in this case, my first look at a spaghetti gangster flick didn't quite make it either.
Energised to some degree by some inspired acting, this violent little
crime caper has a young, carefree protection collector (Baer) swindling
a big-time hood (Palance) out of 10 million Lira only to discover that
his "good deed" has deadly consequences for all concerned. His alliance
with a former gang member of the hood (Cliver) may be the only chance
he has to clear his debts, and survive, but there's another motivation
for Cliver's expert assistance.
Palance is wasted talking out the corner of his mouth while he incessantly chews on a durry filter, while poor old Edmund Purdom really has things tough in this film. His character is publicly emasculated and betrayed by his own favoured son. The role isn't especially prominent, nor key to the plot, so Purdom's appearance in it is both unusual (for such a distinguished actor) and ultimately frivolous. Baer is likable as the charismatic "enforcer", who attracts as much attention from the ladies as he does from those attempting to kill him. Rotund funny-man Caprioli as the wily old Purdom gang member over-indulges in the humour, becoming a parody. Overall, it's very hit and miss.
There's not much to recommend; lots of fisticuffs, gun-fights, car-chases and the like, but the tongue-in-cheek element is never consistently applied, and consequently, the tone is confusing, the film itself a dull experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Italian crime director Fernando Di Leo has helmed heavyweight gangster
thrillers far more unsavory than this relatively lightweight 'David vs.
Goliath' mobster melodrama with Oscar winner Jack Palance in the title
role. The no-nonsense Peter Berling & Fernando Di Leo screenplay
establishes both character and plot for the first forty-five minutes of
this young Turks revenge yarn and then during the last half-hour blends
gunfights galore with comic relief. This average but entertaining urban
crime drama depicts the rise and fall of Palance as the head of his own
crime syndicate in Italy. Although it would help to see this amoral
shoot'em saga in a letterboxed version with good sound, "Mister
Scarface" combines elements of far superior American racketeering
narratives like "Mean Streets" and "The Godfather." Di Leo's "Manhunt"
a.k.a. "Italian Connection" with Mario Adorf and "The Big Boss" a.k.a.
"Wipe Out" with Henry Silva surpass "Mister Scarface" in terms of their
sheer amount of violence and bloodshed. Hooligans aren't fed like
cordwood into a blazing furnace, and women & children aren't run down
in the streets by Volkswagen buses. Long-time Di Leo collaborator Luis
Enríquez Bacalov provides a serviceable jazz score to heighten the
suspense and tension.
"Mr. Scarface" opens with a dreamy slow motion scene where two criminals enter a household with a satchel of loot. One of them, Manzari (Jack Palance of "Shane"), shoots his unnamed partner (Fulvio Mingozzi of "Django Against Sartana"), and awakens a sleeping child. The lad seizes the pistol that Manzari has laid aside and tries to shoot Manzari, except that Manzari's pistol is now empty. Manzari smacks the kid around.
The scene shifts fifteen years later as a twentysomething hood, Tony (Harry Baer of "The Venus Trap"), tools around town in a souped-up, red Puma GT dune buggy collecting protection money from storeowners for his boss, Luigi Cherico (Edmund Purdom of "City of the Walking Dead"), a racketeer that runs a gambling hall with an army of henchmen. A young man, Rick (Al Cliver of "2020 Texas Gladiators"), gets in a card game at Luigi's and loses. A fight erupts later between Rick and Luigi's hoods and they run Rick off. Later, Rick returns with Manzari and his army of thugs. Tony and an older criminal, Vinchenzo Napoli (Vittorio Caprioli of "Moving Target"), watch Manzari enter Luigi's gambling parlor, Napoli observes that just looking at Manzari makes his anus 'twitch.' Manzari's thugs rough up Luigi's minions and then Manzari takes three million lira from Luigi and gives him a check.
Once Manzari takes care of Luigi's men, he lectures Rick about his gambling losses. "If you don't know which table to sit at, don't go gambling, you know what I mean?" Palance's Scarface adopts the line "you know what I mean" for his signature phrase, and he uses it at least three times so that it becomes identified with his wicked character. "If a man gets taken as a sucker, he can't be one of mine." Manzari has a tiny crescent scar on his left cheek and he smokes a cigarette in a holder. Manzari's men beat up Rick and leave him sprawled on the street. Tony comes along and lets Rick heal up from his beating at his place. Rick dreams up a scheme to scam Manzari. Tony and an actor that they hire masquerade as 'Finance Ministry' officials. They visit Manzari's office decked out in official uniforms to inspect the mob boss's records. Scarface's underling Luca calls him about the situation and Scarface orders him to bribe the official so that he will not see some of Scarface's illegal folders. Scarface authorizes his people to pay Tony and the Finance imposter approximately 10 million lira. Later, Luigi blows a gasket when Tony shows up with the three million lira, but he doesn't inform his associates about the other 7 million lira. Previous another of Luigi's hoods had ridiculed Tony because Tony wanted to move up in the organization and collect from bigger clients.
Scarface dispatches his thugs to bust heads in retaliation for the scam. Luca (Roberto Reale of "Being Twenty") tracks down the actor that impersonated the Finance Minister and shoots him with a silenced pistol in the head as he is concluding a performance on stage at a theatre. A frightened Luigi decides to clear out of town and leaves his affairs to an underling, Peppi (Enzo Pulcrano of "The Kidnap Syndicate"), and Peppi shoots Luigi in the head in the movie's biggest surprise. (You were warned about spoilers!) Peppi joins forces with Manzari and prepares a list of places where Luca and his boys can find Tony and Rick. Rick saunters into the late Luigi's gambling parlor and shoots Peppi several times with a silenced automatic. All hell then breaks loose in the last forty-five minutes with a minor gunfight where Rick blows away three of Manzari's thugs that try to string up Napoli because he would reveal the whereabouts of Rick and Tony, and ultimately in a massive gun battle takes place at an old, derelict slaughter house factory where Manzari gets his comeuppance and we learn Rick's true identity.
"Mister Scarface" contains minimal nudity and some profanity, including use of the F-word. Di Leo doesn't linger on anything and keeps the story moving forward at all times. Ironically, Jack Palance's lethal gangster boasts that nobody in his organization qualifies as a sucker and hubris turns out to be his undoing when the Tony and Rick scam him. Our low-level criminal protagonist spend most of their time defending themselves from higher up hoods so they can be classified as sympathetic heroes. Di Leo appears to have lensed everything in authentic Italian locations. Napoli, the older hood, supplies the comic relief, particularly in an amusing scene during the shoot out in the slaughterhouse factory when he has trouble killing a Manzari ruffian. Typically, "Mister Scarface" appears in public domain collections along with other European public domain movies.
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