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Crazy Joe (1974)
One of the best casts in this story of the rise and fall of Crazy Joe
Crazy Joe perfectly melds two cultural aspects of a fantastic seventies genre, the crime thriller. With a New York location and loads of terrific American character actors in addition to Italian direction, production and veterans of Italian poliziotti, this film stands out on many levels. Peter Boyle is chillingly effective as Joe, a power hungry Family soldier who desperately wants his own piece of the action with his brother and a small, but loyal army. He wages a war in New York to the dismay of the Capo di tutti capi and ultimately winds up in prison on a federal charge of liquor distribution. Once out, Crazy Joe plots his next move with his new partner, members of the Black Mob. What makes Crazy Joe stand out are the tons of familiar faces from movies of the era. Rip Torn, Luther Adler, Charles Cioffi, Carmine Caridi, Louis Guss, Eli Wallach, all appear in this movie. Even small roles are handled by well-known faces. Michael Gazzo (Godfather 2) plays a cook who still can't speak English despite being in NYC for years and years. Herve Villechaize of The Man With The Golden Gun and Fantasy Island fame is seen briefly as one of Joe's soldiers. There are veterans of Polizotti films (Fausto Tozzi) and Enzo the baker from the Godfather makes an appearance (Gabriele Torrei) to devastating effect.The gritty locations, bloddy violence, period music, and dialogue are all top-notch. A must for all organized crime film buffs. If "Mean Streets" were combined with "Il Consigliori", this movie would be the end result!!! The only fault I find with this movie is that it is so HARD TO FIND!!! This classic needs a DVD treatment ASAP!
Tough Guys (1974)
Italian Poliziotti meets Blaxploitation!
Uomini Duri aka "Three Tough Guys" is an Italian made action film from 1974. Isaac Hayes stars as Lee, a framed Chicago ex-cop who teams up with Father Charlie played by Lino Ventura. Together they fight for answers and revenge in a million dollar bank heist. Fred Williamson in a rare villain role plays Snake. This is a very entertaining film. While set in Chicago and the mob playing second fiddle to the plot, the film is very Italian. It has the feel of an Italian poliziotti film with in your face action and seedy locales. There are many veterans of Italian action films including Jess Hahn and William Berger. Lino Ventura is great as Father Charlie, the priest who can fight and does not hesitate in resorting to violence. Hayes is very underrated as an actor and its a shame he appeared in only one other seventies blaxploitation film (Truck Turner). The chemistry between Ventura and Hayes is excellent, a joining of American and Italian styles. Fred Williamson is good as Snake but his role could have been much more. He appears far too briefly and is pretty much a supporting villain in this film. Isaac Hayes scored the movie as well and the music does not disappoint! The theme "Tough Guys", "Joe Bell", and "Run Fay Run" (used in Kill Bill 1) are highlights on the soundtrack. Lots of shootouts and action are abound in this film but I would have appreciated a great long car chase in this film. It would have rounded out the action perfectly! All in all though a terrific film. -Note, this film is extremely hard to find as it was never released on video or DVD, worth seeking out.
Il consigliori (1973)
Balsam and Milian blast the opposition!
Il Consigliori is a poliziotti film from 1973. Martin Balsam, a regular of these types of films plays Don Maggadino, a powerful San Francisco mob boss. His consigliori (lawyer) played by Tomas Milian, another familiar face in Italian films has just gotten out of jail. He is happy to see his Don once again but wants to go straight. Maggadino is not too happy but allows him to go his own way. Once this happens, Garafolo played by Francisco Rabal becomes unhappy and wants to branch off into his own family. Thus begins a war between the rival factions. The consigiliori cannot bear to see his don go down and joins him once again. This movie is fantastic. It has all the elements of an action movie plus many values of the Mafia system. There are great sit-down meetings in restaurants, numerous shoot-outs, two nice car chases, and a great story. The relationship between the always excellent Balsam and Milian in a more subdued role here is very special. There are great visuals of urban San Francisco and rural Sicily for the finale. Riz Ortolani provides a great soundtrack and Albert De Martino's (Blazing Magnum) direction provides a good flow. A must for Mob film and Italian action film fans.
L'homme en colère (1979)
Lino Ventura and Angie Dickinson crime-drama!
Jig-Saw, aka L'homme en colere is a Franco-Canadian co-production from 1979. It stars Lino Ventura as Romain Dupree, a Frenchman who arrives in Montreal only to be informed that his son is dead. However the deceased is not his son but an individual who was using his passport. Dupree begins a frantic search for his son who happens to be wanted by the local mob. Angie Dickinson plays Karen, an American woman who helps Dupree in his quest. While no means an action-packed Euro-crime film as one would expect, the film is pretty good in its storytelling and acting. Lino Ventura is terrific and plays the caring father with lots of emotion. Angie Dickinson is stunning as Karen. The film makes good use of Montreal's locations and it gives a good view of the Quebecois lifestyle. There are a few punch-ups and some brief shootings but this film is a basic drama story. Donald Pleasance turns up briefly in two scenes as a go-between for the mob. Even in such a small role, Pleasance is always exciting to watch on screen. An interesting film overall with a very moving score by Claude Bolling.
black drama made for TV play
Freeman is a play that was made for televison back in 1977. It tells the story of Freeman, a very spirited young black man who lives in an industrial town in Michigan with his parents and fiancee, Osa Lee. Freeman works in an auto plant in a minor office job but is constantly looking to better himself in society. He runs for city councilman in his district and loses. We constantly see him as an angry man who criticizes the "Man" and his family at the same time. Dick Anthony Williams is superb as the voracious Freeman. Fans may recognize him from the 1971 heist film, "The Anderson Tapes". Lou Gossett Jr. plays Freeman's best friend, Rex. Rex is a doctor and is constantly trying to help Freeman. Rounding out the cast is Chip Fields as Freeman's unfortunate wife, Osa Lee, legendary seventies character actor Richard Ward (the raspy voiced Doc Johnson in "Across 110th Street") as the father and Pauline Meyers as the mom. This is a very serious and moving play dealing with relationships between parents, best friend, and wife. It exemplifies the harsh life of the urban black male of the seventies during a time when many "blaxploitation" films showed a rather overblown picture. Saw this play on WNYE Ch. 25, a NYC public tv station.
Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside (1973)
Hal Linden and Tony Lo Bianco as tough NYPD detectives!
This made for tv film by the producer of The French Connection (Phil D'Antoni) is pretty good. Linden and Lo Bianco play NYPD detectives hot on the trail of a drug ring that is being run by foreign diplomats. Great use of New York City location. It is unusual to see Lo Bianco in a non criminal role as he was in the other D'Antoni productions (Seven-Ups, French Connection). All in all similar in story to the French Connection. Paul Benjamin who appeared in Across 110th Street, Friday Foster, Escape from Alcatraz is good as the boss to our dynamic duo. Not alot of action but good for fans (like me!!!) of seventies cop and thriller films.
Assault on Agathon (1977)
Political intrigue in Greece and the Balkans!
Assault on Agathon is a great film. It tells the story of a revolutionary from WW2, the mysterious Agathon who is committing terrorsit acts in Greece and Albania. Nico Minardos stars as Cabot Cain, Western agent assigned to stop Agathon and locate a missing Interpol agent. Marianne Faithfull, the chanteuse also stars. Stunning Mediterrenean photography adds to this fun thriller. It is interesting to note that a large part of the film takes place in Kosovo when times were peaceful in the seventies.
Funeral for an Assassin (1974)
Intrigue in seventies South Africa
Vic Morrow stars as Michael Cardiff, a professional assasin who seeks revenge on those responsible for his past prison sentence. By disguising himself as a black South African, he sets his plan while foiling the police. Van Dissel plays the cop, Roos who is dedicated and stops at nothing. Nicely filmed in South Africa complete with period music, clothes, and cars. I reccomend it highly to those who enjoy films set in Africa (The Wild Geese, Dogs of War, Fatal Assasin) Good action scenes and vintage depiction of apartheid Suid Afrika.
The last episodes of Secret Agent,in color!!!!
Koroshi is actually a compilation of two Secret Agent episodes, Koroshi and Shinda Shima. In the last season it was decided that the episodes would be made in color. Unfortunately, Patrick McGoohan grew tired of the role and quit with only two episodes being made. Koroshi deals with an ancient death society based in Tokyo which plans to execute world leaders. Drake travels to Japan in order to seek out and destroy the organization. Shinda Shima deals with an island which is supposedly and evil one but contains a base in which the society conducts their affairs. Drake helps to overtake the island give it back to its people. Both episodes are action filled yet they lack the witty dialogue and character development of previous Secret Agent shows.