Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Film Review: REVOLVER (1973, Sergio Sollima)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 111 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Oliver Reed, Fabio Testi, Frédéric de Pasquale (THE FRENCH CONNECTION), Peter Berling (THE NAME OF THE ROSE, AGUIRRE THE WRATH OF GOD). Music by Ennio Morricone.
Tag-line: "The last battle between crime and the law in every major city in the world."
Best one-liner: "I'll find you, even if I have to shake the whole fuckin' countryside out like a fuckin' sock!"

I'm a sucker for Eurocrime, and REVOLVER, a French-Italian co-production directed by Sergio Sollima (THE BIG GUNDOWN, VIOLENT CITY, RUN MAN RUN) combines the cool, glossy visuals and fatalism of Melville with the batshit crazy panache of Castellari. Oliver Reed is a prison warden who's coerced (via his kidnapped wife) to release loner inmate Fabio Testi.
There's hippie pop stars, international conspiracies, class warfare, and lots of tight, tight pants.

Reed, one of my all-time favorites, is, unfortunately, dubbed. You'll be missing out his thundering, expressive voice- but enough of the performance is grounded in his husky, raging, walrus-like physicality that you won't feel cheated.

The Italians love reaction shots, and reaction shots love Oliver Reed. The man was made to deliver a stern, simmering stare.

Thugs have got his wife, and he is one angry man. He lets you know- like Paula Abdul, straight up- that he's only a hair's breadth away from slapping the shit out of you at any given moment.

He will yank around a naked fat man by the hair if he has to.



The voice on the trailer tells us that this movie is so brutal that it'll "make Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH look like wishful thinking!" While I wouldn't quite go that far, I will say there's probably more slapping per capita than any comparable film.



There are a lot of great sucker punches, too.

As the released prisoner, Testi is quite the hardass.

His main character trait seems to be his ability to drop a cigarette from a great height and having it land standing on its end.

Not certain how useful that is, but I guess it's impressive, sure. He wears a lot of whacky fur coats and at one point offhandedly bites a snowball like it's an apple.


Not exactly like Brando playing with the glove in ON THE WATERFRONT, but hey, at least he's making acting choices. Most of this could make for an unbearable performance, but Testi possesses an innate, loopy likability


which is the perfect foil to Reed's relentlessly severe countenance. When they become buddies, your living room will likely be graced with a standing ovation.

Fabio: so needy. Oliver: 'I get my gin back after this take, right?'

There's loads of great lines that sound kiiind of like something you might say in English, but they're subtly Italian-ized: "We're like sitting ducks... at a shooting gallery!," "Why you bloody little piece of horseshiiiit!," or "I swear to God unless you start talkin', I'm gonna see the color of your guts!"

"I'll do it! I'll kill myself!"

"Are you Japanese, boy? Let me tell you something. Only the Japanese know how to use a knife on themselves properly. Only the Japanese."

But it's not all fun and games– the Ennio Morricone score is absolutely masterful, darkly suspenseful, and occasionally emotional (rumbling, dissonant pianos; zesty percussion; and frequent, tasteful quoting of "Für Elise"); and the blunt, ruthless finale is as disquieting as it is abrupt. So here- before you start shakin' the fuckin' countryside out like a fuckin' sock– take these four stars.

-Sean Gill

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