Revolver (1973, Italy / France / Germany)
“Society has many ways of defending itself: red tape, prison bars, and the revolver.” So says a French lawyer to his Italian client, ex-homicide detective and current prison warden Vito Cipriani (Oliver Reed), who is in a bit of a pickle. The gist of the lawyer’s, um, unorthodox advice is that the revolver might need to take precedence in dealing with that particular type of defensive pickle. And explains why the movie isn’t called ‘Red Tape’.
Vito’s life has been turned upside down when his young wife, Anna (Agostina Belli), is kidnapped and he receives the ransom call - to let one of his prisoners, Milo Ruiz (Fabio Testi), escape. He immediately confronts Milo, who claims not to know who is working on his behalf.
He decides not to involve the local Italian police, and facilitates Milo’s escape from the prison hospital. He then picks him up on the other side of the wall, keeping him as surety in the trade for his wife. But it’s not that simple. Vito and Milo are thrust uneasily together; Vito trying not to release him until his wife is handed over, and Milo not being entirely sure whether whoever it is who has engineered his release wants him simply to be free, or to play a key role in a planned heist, or to fill in at centre back for Juventus. Or wants him dead. Ultimately, it emerges that the reason for him being sprung is linked to another man, Jean David, who was shot by a nightwatchman during robbery and died in Milo’s arms. Oh, and an assassination. The relationship between Vito and Milo gradually moves from mutual disdain to grudging alliance, and less gradually from Italy to Paris.
It is an entertaining 70s thriller with an elaborate, intricate plot. And more prison warden movie than prison movie, even if Vito is decidedly more action-movie-ex-cop than warden, shaking down informers and engaging in gun battles with gangsters. It’s hard to imagine San Quentin’s Clinton T Duffy, for example, stealing cars to rescue his wife, or grilling crime figures who are draped in naked women (with no red tape in sight).
Posted on August 11th, 2018 at 6:28 pm. Updated on August 11th, 2018 at 6:28 pm.