Tuesday, 22 June 2010

La mano lunga del padrino / The Long Arm of the Godfather

In that the main conflict in this 1972 poliziotto is in fact between rival gangsters, with the police barely making an appearance despite the gunning down of several soldiers and the theft of a consignment of arms, this is this is one of those filone entries which qualifies as a poliziotto in name only.

Groovy credits superimposed over cold blooded killing

It's also a somewhat difficult film to otherwise place. The groovy credits and the breezy lounge score (complete with frequent use of la la la la type male and female vocalism) are at odds with the cynicism, violence and general air of misogyny and/or misanthropy that is otherwise the film's stock in trade. Perhaps tellingly the film was also the only credited work for composer Silvano D'Auria and co-writer and director Nando Bonomi alike.

Casual violence and sadism

Elsewhere we are on more familiar ground, insofar as the other co-writer and editor was Giulio Berruti of Killer Nun note, the three leads are Adolfo Celi, Peter Lee Lawrence and Erica Blanc and many of the gang members familiar faces.

Celi plays the Godfather of the title, Lawrence the treacherous underling who does a double crosses and tries to sell the arms on himself, and Blanc the moll whom he wishes to impress.

The pacing is often somewhat leisurely and the game of cat and mouse not as tense as it could have been.

This is partly down to the characterisation of the leads: Celi’s Don Carmelo is a criminal mastermind in the Thunderball or Danger Diabolik mode, confident he’s always at least one move ahead of everyone else:

Goon: Don't you want revenge?
Don Carmelo: Romantic notions don't interest me. I want the money.

Lawrence’s Vincenzo thinks he is smarter than he actually is, but is also adept at improvising his way out of sticky situations:

Vincenzo: For the moment I'm still winning.
Sabina: Don't count on that.
Vincenzo: I always do.

It is also down to the fact that the action quickly relocates from Italy to somewhere in North Africa or the Middle East, such that we get a fair amount of tourist style sightseeing worked into the narrative.

And something a bit more disturbing, perhaps

Things do get back down to the serious business after a bit, albeit again with some awkward inconsistencies in tone, not least when Blanc’s Sabina is brutalised by one of Don Vincenzo’s thugs to some incongruous but not obviously intentionally ironic musical accompaniment.

In sum, an oddity that doesn’t always work but which isn’t the kind of disaster that its first and only film nature might lead you to assume.

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