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FROM CORLEONE TO BROOKLYN is an exciting late 70s Italian crime film starring the dynamic and handsome Maurizio Merli as an Italian cop who is trying to find a killer who is mob-connected and who eventually has to bring a witness to the United States to testify against the suspect in order for the suspect to be extradited back to Italy. Written and directed by Umberto Lenzi, who directed any number of excellent police films in the 70s (and four great vehicles for Carroll Baker in the late 60s/early 70s), the film moves at a brisk pace and because Mafia killers are after Merli and his witness, the viewer never knows when they will next be attacked or by what method. The pulsating, police-funk score gives this the classic "sound" of a 70s euro-crime film, and the fatalistic ending is something one would rarely see in an American film. Van Johnson, as the New York police lieutenant who works with Merli, does a fine job of barking orders at underlings and projects a genuine concern for Merli's task and situation. I'm still not sure if Mr. Johnson did his own dubbing on this film, but had a cold and was not well-recorded, or whether someone was doing a Van Johnson imitation--after all, Johnson is an EASY to identify actor with distinctive phrasing and accent. A mimic could listen to the soundtrack of one of his films and do a decent impression. In any event, this would rank among the top third of 70s Italian crime films that I have seen. Also, much of the location shooting is in New York and is shot when there is snow on the ground, so the atmosphere is important in the film Recommended to fans of this genre of film, FROM CORLEONE TO BROOKLYN is an example from the "golden age" of Euro-crime films.
From Corleone To Brookln is one of Umberto Lenzi's best crime films,
is saying lot because he directed many classics in the
Maurizio Merli plays Berni, the usual P.O. cop, and here he has to escort a lowlife criminal (Biagio Pellegra) from Italy to New York so he can testify against a mafia head.
the mafia have set up a series of traps along the way, making things a bit difficult for the boys.
at times very suspenseful, action packed and helped along by one of composer Franco Micalizzi's best scores, From Corleone To Brooklyn gets my highest recommendation.
sadly, this would be the last "real" crime film Lenzi would make, but at least he went out with a bang!
Don't be put off by the use of the name Corleone in the title "Da
Corleone a Brooklyn". This movie is a thoroughly enjoyable and
well-crafted piece of work, in which there is excellent location
shooting in both Palermo and New York. Umberto Lenzi wrote the story,
the screenplay and directed. He made the story very sophisticated and
logical with well-rounded characters that occasionally do surprising
things but that are in character. His direction is taut.
Michele Barresi, played by Mario Merola, is a shadowy mob boss in Palermo, with no arrest record and no sure photographs. He has gone to NYC under a false name and passport, but has run afoul of immigration. The Palermo police, represented by Maurizio Merli, have picked up on this and want him returned, but they need to identify him before a judge. For that, they need a witness. Merli manages to get a hood, played by Biagio Pelligra, over a barrel. Pelligra agrees to go to NYC to identify Merola. But the Mafia discovers that Pelligra is not really dead, and determines to thwart them.
There are several attempts to stop them, plus the revengeful Pelligra is more interested in escaping and killing Merola on his own than in identifying him. The relationship between Merli and Pelligra is developed nicely, sometimes friendly, sometimes antagonistic.
Van Johnson is shuffling Merola around, while Merola's lawyer tries to get him out on bail from the minor immigration charge. Merola's interchanges with his lawyer show a great deal of sophistication in dealing with the law and the strategy. He is a man of some authority.
I particularly enjoyed the chase sequence in the narrow Palermo streets, with the camera at the level of the hood. But there were also a number of vignettes scattered throughout the story that heightened its interest a great deal.
I didn't see this picture in one list of the top 60 poliziotesschi, but I think it belongs there.
This is one of those few films I wish would be discussed in more
detail, but it fits in such a niche of a market that I doubt it'll ever
In the 1970's, it wasn't uncommon for Italian B-movies to shoot a few exteriors in New York City but quite rare for the poliziotteschi genre. Sure there's a few films like STREET PEOPLE, BLAZING MAGNUMS, and STATELINE MOTEL but for the most part tried to play themselves off (unsuccessfully) as American movies.
As Umberto Lenzi's only cross-pond crime movie excursion and only teaming with famous Neapolitan crooner Mario Merola, this film stands out for several reasons. One, it's odd to see a eurocrime movie starring Maurizio Merli so focused on plot and characters. From start to finish, there's a single narrative thrust and tension running high throughout and even some personal investment on whether the characters live, die, or finally face sweet justice for their transgressions.
Secondly, it's almost more of a travelogue than an action movie. The film has no less than 4 sequences where characters sit in a car and look around while intercutting to a lot of filler footage of street scenes filmed from a moving car. While this sort of thing usually drags a B-movie down, it oddly fits in with the gritty, trashy feeling this film evokes from the sloppy cinematography and chaotic and funky score by Franco Micalizzi. You can either look at it as a more bizarre, improvised version of a Lenzi movie or a really polished version of an Alfonso Brescia-helmed scungy crime drama.
That said, there's plenty about this movie that really doesn't make sense (unless something was lost in translation). Why does Merli have to escort his witness by rail and car from Palermo all the way to Rome first in order to fly to New York? Surely in 1979 there had to be at least a few direct flights from Palermo to New York, or at least to Rome? Well, if they'd have just hopped on a plane at the start, it wouldn't have been the same movie. However I'd wager that it could only have been better as the film really picks up the most once it plops macho Italian crimefighter Maurizio Merli on American shores in the snowy, garbage-strewn, hoodlum-infested streets of 70's NYC.
At this writing the masses are rating it 6.6/10, which is just too low.
80% of those that took the time to write a review are giving it 8/10.
That's more like it.
I'm glad that it ended when it did. Da Brooklyn a Corleone would make a nice sequel, but not all in one movie!
There's not a lot you can say in a review of this particular movie without a spoiler cropping up, so I guess I could say in that regard that it's extremely plot-driven. The characters are drawn in a much more believable way than the current crop of mafia orientated movies that suffer from way too much badda-bingness.
I can't find a subtitles file for this anywhere, so I had to watch in English, which was OK for the Brooklyn scenes. If I ever get my hands on one, I would LOVE to create a version of this movie where the scenes in Sicily are done in Italian with English subtitles, and the scenes in Brooklyn are done in English. The script actually lends itself to that, with one of the locals in NY asking what a particular word is in Italian. That has to be in English, but the scenes in Sicily obviously weren't. Of course the elephant in the room is that real Sicilian wouldn't sound much like standard Italian, but, hey, close enough. That would be a truly awesome improvement to what is already a really solid flick. If someone PM's me with a subtitle file, I will share the result. I promise, it will be awesome. Well, it is already. My copy already has English/Italian sound tracks, so the project is very doable.
Umberto Lenzi made some of the best Italian crime thrillers of the
seventies. Unfortunately, however, this late entry doesn't rank up
alongside his best efforts; but even so, From Corleone to Brooklyn is a
breezy and entertaining little thriller that is sure to be appreciated
by fans of this genre. The film that had the biggest influence on the
Eurocrime genre is most definitely Don Siegal's masterpiece Dirty
Harry; but the genre went on to take in elements from many different
films; and it would seem that the main influence for this film is the
1977 Clint Eastwood thriller 'The Gauntlet'. As usual, the plot focuses
on organised crime in Italy. Maurizio Merli takes up a familiar role as
Commissioner Berni (no relation to the better known Commissioner Betti,
I think); a cop who puts his life on the line to transport a witness
from Corleone to New York City in order to testify against a mob boss
on trial for murder. Along the way, Berni and his prisoner face a
series of traps set up by the Mafia.
Maurizio Merli may be more than a little bit one-note; but he plays that one note so well that it's difficult to complain. He really does sleepwalk through the film; but it doesn't matter too much because this is still a very entertaining performance from the Eurocrime veteran. Merli is joined by the distinctive Biagio Pelligra and the pair has good chemistry together as they make the perilous journey from Italy to the USA. At just under ninety minutes; the film does feel rather short, however, and I have to say that it's the pacing that really lets it down. The build up to the central plot takes rather a long time and becomes a little tedious. Once we get into the main plot, things start to become a bit more exciting; but most of the film focuses on Italy, and by the time we get to the USA; there's not a great deal of time left. Still, the film is populated with gun fights and car chases and it never gets boring long enough to become really dull. The ending is rather good and there's a nice little sting in the tail. Overall, I wouldn't quite class this film as a 'must see', but it's certainly worth a look and Eurocrime fans will want to track it down.
Umberto Lenzi, in case you've never heard of him, is an Italian director of various kinds of exploitation flicks: horror, crime drama, and even spaghetti western. The first movie of his that I ever saw was "Orgasmo" - called "Paranoia" in the US - in which Carroll Baker (of "Baby Doll" fame) plays a woman who moves to Italy and gets to know a young couple who aren't what they seem. Now I've seen another one of Lenzi's movies: "Da Corleone a Brooklyn" ("From Corelone to Brooklyn" in English). Maurizio Merli, who was apparently famous as a Franco Nero lookalike, plays a cop helping a low-level mafioso testify against a big-time gangster. I actually found much of the movie to be really slow-moving, but the last half-hour or so made up for that. Even so, the European exploitation flicks that I prefer are the ultra-gory ones.
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