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Il Cittadino si Ribella

Street Law
Ein Bürger setzt sich zur Wehr / Ein Mann schlägt zurück

Italy 1974
produced by
Mario Cecchi Gori, Luciano Luna (executive) for Capital Film
directed by Enzo G. Castellari
starring Franco Nero, Giancarlo Prete, Barbara Bach, Renzo Palmer, Romano Puppo, Massimo Vanni, Nazzareno Zamperla, Renata Zamengo, Franco Borelli, Mauro Vestri, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Adriana Facchetti
written by Massimo De Rita, Arduino Maiuri, music by Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Not only is Carlo's (Franco Nero) appartment burgled, also a few days later, planning to make a large deposit at the bank, the bank is held up by a trio of gangsters (Romano Puppo, Massimo Vanni, Nazzareno Zamperla) and the thieves steal his money before he can make the deposit ... but not only that, they also take him hostage, and badly beat him up. Somehow he gets away with his life, but is forever traumatized, and the police prove to be little help. But Carlo has sworn revenge ...

But to get revenge on a trio of ruthless professional gangsters is easier said than done, as when Carlo tries to investigate in the underworld on his own, he does not only fall on the deaf ears of a society that doesn't trust him, he is eventually even threatened, beaten and chased off.

So he tries a different approach and has soon enough picked out Tommy (Giancarlo Prete), a small time crook against whom he gathers enough evidence to be able to blackmail him, then forces him to sniff out his gangsters. Eventually, the two men even grow friendly with each other, and shortly before the proposed meeting of Carlo withthe gangsters, Tommy tries to dissuade him from the whole thing ... and it soon becomes apparent why, Tommy has sold him to the gangsters, and Carlo soon receives another violent beating at their hands, then they lock him up to deal with him later. But Tommy is decent enough that he wants no part in murder, so he frees Carlo - only to find out that Carlo is hell-bent on murder as well when he fights it out with the one of the gangsters left to guard him. Only Tommy can keep him from killing the hood.

Next, Carlo tries to hand over the whole affair to the police, but when he watches what should have been a clean arrest, he only sees the gangsters making an escape when the police is still nowhere to be seen ... so there must be a mole inside the force, which seems to only be confirmed when he then finds his appartment raided ...

So, withthe help of Tommy, Carlo goes into hiding, but not before leaving behind a collection of (sometimes artificial) evidence for the police to be forced to act upon - especially when the press gets wind of the whole affair. So Carlo's trio of gangsters is soon becoming a hot potato even for the underworld who would now gladly hand them over to the law ... but the trio still has one ace up their sleeve - they know who Tommy is, and soon enough take him hostage and use him to force Carlo out of hiding.

It all culminates in a shoot-out in a big hangar, with Tommy's shattered (but still alive) body lieing in the middle and the gangsters taking shots at him to torture him. Somehow though, Carlo still manages to shoot all of them, even if it costs the life of Tommy.

In the end, Carlo is promised by the police to get off scot-free - not because he has done the right thing (which I doubt he has), or because he has acted out of self defense, but because the police want to hush the affair up so that it doesn't look as if one determined civilian can achieve more than the entire police force and that other people won't follow his example - which leaves a bad taste in Carlo's mouth ...

Barbara Bach plays Franco Nero's wife, a comparatively small role.

 

Made in the wake of Death Wish, which was released earlier the same year, it has to be stated that Enzo G.Castellari is of course a better director than Michael Winner, Franco Nero is a better actor than Charles Bronson, and the screenplay of Street Law is much more interesting ... all of which makes Street Law the better film of the two ...

Its eye for an eye-, pro-vigilant-attitude notwithstanding, Street Law offers a perfect blend of social comment, character study and first class action cinema, where the many shoot-outs, beat-em-ups and chases are always more than just isolated stepiecesand the violence never only serves its own purpose but is almost a narrative need. That all the action scenes are excellently staged - as much could be expected from Enzo G.Castellari - of course doesn't hurt either.

Recommendation.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD