Pistol – movie review

Pistol (1973)
Director: Sergio Solima
Cast: Oliver Reed, Fabio Testi and Agustina Belli
Language: English (optional Italian audio with English subtitles)
Running time: 109 minutes
Format: Blu-ray
Release date: May 16, 2022

Jimmy Havelin takes a look at this violent, action-packed thriller Eurocrime starring Oliver Reed.

No one can deny that Oliver Reed’s career in cinema has included some great moments. He has acted in films for Joseph Lucy, Ken Russell, David Cronenberg, Nicolas Rogge and Terry Gilliam, as well as being heavily nominated to replace Sean Connery as James Bond. Never keen on Hollywood bullshit, he turned down some big studio opportunities himself, including the chance to play Quint in Jaws.

Today, though, he’s probably more remembered for his hell-inducing antics than for his on-screen appearances, which is unfortunate. During the 1970s, as the British film industry declined in production, Reed made his way to Italy where that country experienced a boom in the Giallo and Polizocchi genres.

Politically, the country was in turmoil, with regular street clashes between the far right and the far left. Terrorist atrocities and kidnappings increased. Not surprisingly, with gangsters, corrupt police, and shady politicians, the poliziotteschi’s gritty crime drama that reflected the unrest struck a chord with an increasingly large audience.

Corrupt actors were in great demand and several Italian directors were eager to entice Reed to star in their films. In 1973, he appeared in two such examples. Dino Rize’s Dirty Weekend came first and it wasn’t great. Then the gun came.

pistol & # 8211;  movie review

Here Reid plays Vito Cipriani, the deputy governor of a prison in Milan. After a grueling day at work, having to disarm a prisoner with a blade threatening to kill himself, he returns home hoping to unwind with his wife Anna (Agostina Bailey). Instead, he receives an anonymous call telling him that she has been kidnapped. Her kidnappers demand that Vito allow his inmate to escape his prison in exchange for her release. This prisoner is Milo Ruiz (Fabio Testi), a petty crook and former member of the French Legion.

There is a twist. Milo really has no idea who’s going to have trouble helping him escape. In another development, once he is abroad, he himself is held hostage by Vito.

Vito fears that with Milo out of prison, the kidnappers may decide that it is only safe to kill his wife, so Milo can act in his hands as a deterrent against this. Meanwhile, Milo begins to suspect that the men behind Anna’s kidnapping may be enemies who want to kill him. Perhaps it makes sense for the two men to unite to find out who is holding Anna.

pistol & # 8211;  movie review

The pistol is very marginally long, but to its advantage, it is consistently interesting and never unpredictable. Solima’s direction is solid and he handles the action great, even crafting his own fight scenes, creating different melee styles for each character to reflect their own. Ennio Morricone’s result is sometimes fantastic, while at other times it subtly increases stress. One notable, Un Amico, was later borrowed by Quentin Tarantino for the Inglourious Basterds.

Fabio Testi makes the most of one of his best written parts, but Red is the ultimate revelation. You wouldn’t guess he was drinking heavily on set during filming. He was said to have been able to keep it together early in the day, but by the late afternoon, it had become increasingly erratic and difficult to deal with. Testy had to make him laugh over and over to get him to act himself.

Even the bouts of drinking might have one advantage: In the later stages of the movie, with his character feeling more and more disappointed day by day, Red seems utterly bemused. On the downside, for actress Paula Pettagora anyway, his reckless driving while filming the scene where they had to get out of the gas station to evade cops caused a black eye accident, which explains why she spends so much time in sunglasses. In Tough Girl, a feature that came with the release, she was still able to remember Red fondly, but the others weren’t too intrigued. Furious at his antics, Solima suspected that some of the crew might be seeking revenge at the end of filming. They were told that Red would finish four days later than what was actually required of him to avoid any potential reprisals.

As the final credits for Revolver rolled out, I immediately wanted to see more of Reed’s work and more poliziotteschi movies as well.

Special features include a limited edition O-Card bag [2000 copies]; New highly recommended audio commentary by critic Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw; New Interview with Film Researcher Stephen Thrower; An archival interview with actor Fabio Testi and a limited-edition collegiate handbook featuring two new articles by author Howard Hughes, and an expanded clip on Ennio Morricone’s Eurocrime soundtrack.

To learn more about the release, click here.

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All words by Jimmy Havelin. Jamie has written two short films that have been shown on British TV and at international festivals and regularly contributes to the rock band Wired Up! More of Jimmy’s writing can be found in the archives of his author Louder Than War.

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