A young, ambitious mobster plans an elaborate diamond heist while seducing the daughter of a ruthless mob patriarch as a determined police commissioner closes in on all of them.A young, ambitious mobster plans an elaborate diamond heist while seducing the daughter of a ruthless mob patriarch as a determined police commissioner closes in on all of them.A young, ambitious mobster plans an elaborate diamond heist while seducing the daughter of a ruthless mob patriarch as a determined police commissioner closes in on all of them.
Pioneer crime thriller
Traditionally speaking, the influential and groundbreaking classics come from the States, while the raw and exploitative imitations come from Europe (more particularly Italy), but this time it's sort of vice versa. A number of years before there was Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" – or any other major gangster/mafia film, for that matter – there was Henri Verneuil's "The Sicilian Clan". This is the saga of a criminal Italian family in Paris; covering up their clandestine affairs through running a business of electronic bar games. Following a very ingenious but dared and risky escape plan, the family recruits the over-ambitious gangster/convicted cop killer Roger Sartet; even though patriarch Vittorio Manalese is reluctant to trust him and in spite of tough copper Le Goff obsessively hunting him down. Sartet suggests a jewelry theft worth more than 500 million dollars, but the security precautions are insurmountable. Together with an old friend, Vittorio invents a magnificently infallible plan to raid the jewels during their transportation by plane between the exhibition in Rome and another one in New York. Everything goes according to plan, apart from a couple of obstructions, but then Sartet breaks the code of honor by messing around with Vittorio's daughter-in-law. "The Sicilian Clan" literally nearly burst from all the talent that is involved; in the cast with some of the greatest names of French cinema (Alain Delon, Jean Gabin and Lino Venturo) but also in the crew with the fantastic cinematography of Henri Decaë and the immortal soundtrack of Ennio Morricone. But the one thing that probably deserves the most praise and respect is the impeccable scenario, with all its small but intelligent and creative details. It took no less than three gifted writers (including the director) to adapt Auguste Le Breton's landmark novel, but the result is worth showing off with. Sartet's escape from the prison transport is a highlight and the whole plan for the jewelry heist is astoundingly wise. The suspense is present from the beginning but gradually also builds up further along the film. Verneuil terrifically plays out the cat and mouse game between Sartet and Le Goff and, by extension, the entire Manalese family. The story is full of headstrong and robust characters, active on both sides of the law, and the film undoubtedly owes a great deal of its success to the stellar acting performances. During the seventies, and more specifically after the releases of "The Godfather" and films like "Dirty Harry", the police/crime thriller genre boomed in Europe and literally hundreds of excessively violent mafia thrillers got unleashed upon the market. "The Sicilian Clan" relies more on story and atmosphere instead of on wild action, but the film nevertheless remains an important pioneer.
- Dec 30, 2016
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