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This little-seen comedy/ thriller about a trio of losers who plan to kidnap a man already marked for that fate by some mobsters marked the cinematic swan-song of 'giallo' specialist Luciano Ercoli. The comedy is fairly broad and bawdy, verging on slapstick at times, but there are some amusing moments particularly when the gang ingeniously employs a variety of vehicles during its operations. 'La Bidonata' never received a theatrical release and seems to have been shelved after its producer became the victim of a real-life kidnapping in early 1977. Kidnapping was of course a major criminal industry in 1970s Italy. The most famous victim was probably former Prime Minister Aldo Moro who was abducted and murdered in 1978. This may have contributed to the decision not to release the film, which contains a somewhat tasteless reference to another kidnapping, that of oil heir Jean Paul Getty III in 1973.
The movie has recently been resurrected however from the only surviving print and appears as an extra on the NoShame Films release of 'Colt 38 Special Squad'. The DVD booklet contains a few extra, albeit rather sketchy details of the producer-kidnapping episode.
Nieves Navarro (the real life Mrs Ercoli, and billed here as Susan Scott) has a nice turn as a hooker whom the gang rope in to their scheme. Navarro, a strikingly beautiful woman, also appears in Ercoli's 'Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion', 'Death Walks in High Heels' and 'Death Walks at Midnight', each time in various tantalising stages of undress. The Navarro-Ercoli relationship could be seen as a forerunner of that between Brian de Palma and Nancy Allen, who frequently cast his onetime wife as a lady of dubious repute.
'La Bidonata' is certainly not on the same cinematic level as Ercoli's giallos, but is worth seeking out as a curiosity item - and certainly if you're a fan of Ms Navarro.
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