Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Italian Exploitation Month, Poliziotteschi Tuesdays: Revolver (1973)
In a shocking turn of events, Sergio Sollima gets political.
The walking hurricane that is Oliver Reed gets the showcase here in this excellent poliziotteschi from director Sergio Sollima, which sees the actor as a former homicide detective turned prison warden, whose wife is kidnapped by a couple of thugs with mysterious benefactors in order to bribe him to release one of his prisoners, a small-time hood played by Fabio Testi. As it usually happens in these Italo-crime movies, it isn't long before the cop and the criminal find themselves in an uneasy alliance, working together to survive the mean streets and criminal underworld all around them.
Red-faced and bleary-eyed, it's clear that Reed was taking advantage of his time in Italy with plenty of that good old Italian grape, but even though plastered out of his mind, the actor gives one of his all-time great performances. He's like a stick of dynamite throughout the film, slowly simmering until he finally explodes in a rage of violence. Testi by comparison is rather tame and not nearly as much fun to watch, but the two actors complement each other and work well together throughout, which makes the tragic finale all the more effective.
Sergio Sollima brings a little bit of the politicking of his westerns like The Big Gundown to the fore, although they don't really become a factor in the main action of the movie until the very end when we discover who was responsible for Reed's wife's kidnapping in the first place. Its late inclusion in the film makes the message not quite as potent as it was in Sollima's other work, but the bitter ad cynical ending still packs a wallop, even to this day. The biggest success of the film, however, is most certainly the music of Ennio Morricone - especially the main theme "Un Amico," which Quentin Tarantino later swiped quite effectively for Melanie Laurent's death scene in Inglourious Basterds.