PULP FICTION (1994)

 

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction at the New Beverly Cinema, November 29, 2019. 25th anniversary!                        Photo: Matt Average

PULP FICTION (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Amanda Plummer, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz, Frank Whaley, Phil LaMarr, Rosanna Arquette

 

STREET LAW (1974)

Street Law (1974) (aka Italian Il cittadino si ribella)

Italian

Director: Enzo Castellari

Starring: Franco Nero (Carlo Antonelli), Giancarlo Prete (Tommy), Barbara Bach (Barbara)

Music: Guido and Maurizio De Angelis

Viewed: Amazon streaming

Transfer: Good!

streetlaw

Street Law proves again that it is impossible for Franco Nero (Django, The Fifth Cord) to disappoint.  1974 must have been the year the vigilante broke…you had Bronson in Death Wish, Issac Hayes in Truck Turner, and Nero in Street Law. Definitely all classics in their own right, but this one just might have the others beat.

The film opens with a montage of a 70s Genoa overrun by brazen criminals terrorizing the streets and looting in broad daylight. Nero’s character, Carlo Antonelli, makes his entrance while on the way to the bank to make a deposit. Naturally, as soon he places his hard earned cash on the counter, the bank gets robbed. Criminals are cartoonishly ruthless during the heist, kicking the crutches out from under a disabled person and socking women and Franciscan monks alike in the face with the butt ends of rifles. However, no one actually gets killed.  The crooks somehow blame Carlo as the heist goes south and take him hostage, taking turns slapping him around in the speeding car as the police follow in hot pursuit. Later, as the cops and rubberneckers surround the crime scene, the bloodied, degraded, and abandoned Carlo swears his vengeance.

As I was watching this, I found Carlo’s motivation a little confusing at first. Sure, we later learn that the apartment being robbed in the opening sequence is his and, sure, he’s pretty emasculated by the crooks after the robbery, but his level of hostility and lust to avenge his honor that follows reads more psychotic than heroic. At first, I found myself agreeing with his girlfriend Barbara (Barbara Bach) when she says, “I’m only afraid that all those kicks to the head you took are short circuiting your brain. Will you stop complaining, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and stop acting like a goddamn fool!” Yes, Barbara, exactly! A little later in the film however, it’s revealed that Carlo’s father was an instrumental figure in the Italian underground resistance to the Nazi’s.  Therefore, Carlos’ character takes on the persona of the Italian “everyman” who is carrying on the grand tradition of railing against the injustices of the world. Suddenly it all makes sense.

The film takes another turn as it morphs into a “buddy movie” when Carlo blackmails another criminal to get a load of weapons. Despite Tommy’s repeated attempts to ditch and double-cross Carlo, they end up being best buds and partners in the quest to topple the hoods who humiliated him—with Carlo seeking his vengeance and Tommy just looking for a way out of the thug life. What truly sets this movie apart and keeps it a cut above a pure exploitation flick, however, is the decently nuanced exploration of the ‘who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy’ dilemma. Where in Death Wish the whole film is geared toward making Bronson’s Kersey the clear hero no matter what action he takes, for Nero’s Carlo, it’s a lot more complicated. This is brought into sharp relief when it’s Carlo who beats his girlfriend and is later the first in the film to kill.

Soundtrack to this is absolutely killer, and the top notch Italian car chase scenes and shootout at the end are must sees if your at all a fan of 70s action. Also, director Enzo Castellari’s (Kill Them All and Come Back Alone, Keoma) move to the handheld camera at key moments creates a ton of cool tension and intensity.

Hands down best line in the film: “C’mon out shitface, or your friend’s a goner!” (DC)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   HR: Heath Row   MA: Matt Average

KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE (1968)

Kill Them All And Come Back Alone (1968)

Directed By Enzo G. Castellari

Starring Chuck Connors, Frank Wolf, & Franco Citti

Viewed On Amazon Prime- Good Transfer

“You know, captain, as a Southerner you made me sick. But as a Northerner, you make me vomit. “

killthemall.jpg

Here at Bad Transfer we love Chuck Connors.  Check out Devon’s review for the Mad Bomber.

I was super excited to view Kill Them All… both because of Connors & Enzo who directed Keoma, Street Law,  High Crime, The Inglorious Bastards,  A Few Dollars for Django, etc.  A total legend in Italy.  On top of that the title of the film is brilliant.  

This is a Western about a group of Confederates who try to steal a treasure of gold from Union Soldiers in 1864.  

Theres a ton of action in this movie.  So much so that it borders on ridiculous.  I sometimes felt like I was watching a kung fu movie from my youth.  Not only did the fight scenes have that vibe with dudes flying all over the place, but the subtitles were way off.  I have no idea what translation/dubbing they used for this one.  At any rate there is a really great underwater scene toward the end which is really fun to watch.  All in all I was sorta disappointed in this film maybe just due to my expectations based on KeomaKeoma is a top 5 spaghetti Western in my book.  (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   HR: Heath Row   MA: Matt Average

AND GOD SAID TO CAIN… (1970)

And God Said to Cain…
1970 Italian E Dio disse a Caino…
Starring: Klaus Kinski (Gary Hamilton), Peter Carsten (Acobar), Marcella Michelangeli (Maria),
Antonio Cantafora (Dick Acobar) 
Director: Anthony Dawson (aka Antonio Margheriti)
Music: ​ Carlo Savina 
Theme Song Performed by Don Powell
Viewed: Streaming Amazon Prime
Transfer Quality: Good
A ghost returning
And he’ll have only one desire in his heart
Only one thirst. Revenge. –Maria

dioscain

The quality of the anachronistic theme song in an Italian Western is always a good indicator of the caliber of the film to follow (i.e. Django, Keoma, any Morricone related Western, etc.), and this one is right up there. I would put this on any must see Italian Western list.

Gary Hamilton (Kinski) gets a pardon from the chain gang 10 years after being framed by power hungry Acobar (Carsten) who has stolen Hamilton’s house, mining operation, and woman, Maria. Naturally, vengeance must be administered. After Hamilton gains his freedom, an impending tornado serves as an apt means of foreboding his bloody return. It also creates a signature setting for the film where most of the action takes place at night in the midst of the ever threatening and violent windstorm. Every aspect of the tornado intensifies the anxiety surrounding Hamilton’s return; every utterance of his name evokes fear among his enemies.

The tornado also gives Hamilton’s vengeance an air of divine retribution. This is compounded by the Bava-esque eeriness of the night scenes and disorienting winds that add an other-worldliness to his nighttime attack. Using the cover of the storm and his familiarity with his old homestead, Hamilton is like a ninja, evading capture and keeping adversaries off guard while accumulating an insane number of kills single-handedly. Various trapdoors and hidden entrances allow him to move like a ghost through the mining tunnels under the town, constantly outmaneuvering Acobar’s small army. His name is repeatedly invoked in vain as he moves in the shadows, a seemingly supernatural force. The haunting effect is intensified by the tolling church bell and organ music that signal each wave of vengeful slaughter.  Some other reviewers have derided the film’s mirror room shoot-out scene climax a la Orson Welles’ Lady of Shanghai (1949) as too predictable, but I think it’s great as it adds even more nuance to Hamilton’s ghostlike elusiveness. Even in the light he isn’t really there…until you’re dead! Plus, Bruce Lee’s mirror room climax in Enter the Dragon won’t come for another three years, and no one ever complains about that scene.

Beyond the excellent visual composition and well-paced action, it’s the complexity of the characters and their relationships that ensures repeated viewings. Above all, Kinski’s performance rules in this film. Unlike his askew characters in Westerns like The Beast and The Great Silence, Gary Hamilton is cool, collected, focused, and human. Also, beneath the narrative of revenge is a complex tale of family and loyalty. While Acobar’s son, Dick, sympathizes with Hamilton throughout the film, when he learns of his father’s treachery he ultimately chooses family over what he knows in his heart to be right. Ironically, after this turn, it’s Acobar who takes his own son’s life when he mistakes him for Hamilton.

Getting old, so having to watch midnight movies in two or three installments sometimes. Anyway, during my first watch, I must have slept through the exposition that explains why Gary Hamilton is seeking vengeance against Acobar. So, I had initially credited this with a meta-vengeance film genius it didn’t quite deserve. Still, this is a real standout in the genre with a great balance of genre predictability and innovation.

I’d be curious if someone has counted the number of times “Gary Hamilton!!” is uttered throughout the film…one of my favorite details in the film. I’m also wondering about the total number of kills he tallies.  

Anyway, I’ll keep track next time and get back to you with some figures.

P.S. Apparently this is a remake of A Stranger in Paso Bravo (1968), the only film Salvatore Rosso ever directed. I’ll have to track that down for a comparison.  (DC)

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NW: Nate Wilson   DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average