Thursday, May 01, 2014

Italian Connection

Henry Silva (SHARKY’S MACHINE) and Woody Strode (SPARTACUS) are impressively badass as Mafia hitmen Dave and Frank, respectively, who are sent from the New York office (ludicrously personified by effete Irishman Cyril Cusack) to Milan to rub out a small-time pimp.

The real star, however, is Mario Adorf, who plays said pimp, Luca Canali, as a lovable teddy bear with an estranged wife (HERCULES’ Sylva Koscina) he still loves and a little daughter he adores.

Also after Luca is Milan crime boss Don Vito Tressoldi (THUNDERBALL villain Adolfo Celi), and the hell of it is that Luca has no idea why everyone wants to kill him. He smashes through the city like a barrel-chested bull in a china shop, and Adorf bring enough intensity to the role to almost make you forget that the charismatic Silva and Strode vanish from the movie for a long stretch in the middle.

An excellent chase scene that caps the second act and a pretty good junkyard shootout at the end constitute the bulk of the action. Armando Trovajoli’s pumping score adds much to director Fernando DiLeo’s atmosphere and deft navigation of the crime plot.

THE ITALIAN CONNECTION was probably its best-known title during its original U.S. release by AIP, but it also been seen, particularly on home video, as MANHUNT, MANHUNT IN MILAN, HIT MEN, HIRED TO KILL, BLACK KINGPIN (playing up Strode on the video box), MANHUNT IN THE CITY, and in its original language as LA MALA ORDINA.

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