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  Revolver The Compromisers
Year: 1973
Director: Sergio Sollima
Stars: Oliver Reed, Fabio Testi, Paola Pitagora, Agostina Belli, Frederic de Pasquale, Marc Mazza, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Bernard Giraudeau, Peter Berling, Alexander Stephan, Daniel Beretta, Calisto Calisti, Steffen Zacharias, Michel Bardinet, Sal Borgese
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Milo Ruiz (Fabio Testi) and his partner in crime are running away from a bungled robbery where his partner has been shot in the gut. They both know he's dying, but they don't wish to be caught so run as fast as they can to a car that fits their keys and speed off to the countryside. As the sun rises, Ruiz is forced to admit his friend is not long for this world, though he refuses all offers of a doctor because he does not want to pass away in custody. And so it is that he dies by a river, and Ruiz buries him in a shallow grave with his gun in his hand, an experience that will make him reassess his life of crime, even as he is arrested. However, powerful forces are going to move into play to make an example of him...

And Oliver Reed is here too, which although it was not described as such, rendered Revolver a sort of buddy movie between mismatched protagonists, Testi as the petty criminal who knows too much, if he knows anything, and Reed as Vito Cipriani, the Vice-Governor of the prison where Ruiz winds up and is forced into a very difficult position. We see fairly early on that Cipriani has a loving relationship with his wife Anna (Agostina Belli) and therefore wouldn't it be terrible if anything happened to her? So obviously that's exactly what occurs, she is kidnapped, and he is warned over the phone not to contact the police, just follow the instructions and she won't get hurt (aside from being roughed up a little - well, it is an Italian movie).

Revolver was often lumped in with the poliziottesci genre, yet with its conspiracy-minded plotting where the hand of unseen authority guides all, almost casually in its evil, certainly without compassion, it was more aptly connected to the Hollywood paranoia that was emerging in the United States' thrillers of the decade. That said, it remained defiantly European, with locations that could not be anywhere else and a cast of Euro-thesps of varying degrees of recognisability, of which Reed was the most prominent, though Testi was enjoying a career on the up at the time as well. Reed probably was not, his alcoholism meant he was getting a reputation of being difficult to work with and there were stories from the set of this of precisely how difficult that meant, all of it fuelled by the demon drink.

This makes the fact he was able to deliver a very good performance quite surprising, a man gradually morally compromised as the authorities close in to have him do their nefarious bidding. Director Sergio Sollima had a reputation of being one of the more intellectual directors to predominantly use the medium of genre - thrillers, Spaghetti Westerns - to spin his yarns and you can see from this off-kilter, but non-flashy approach that he was definitely telling the tale he wanted to. It's effective up to a point, but finally so nihilistic that perhaps it's not as satisfying a watch as intended since it comes across as defeatist rather than cynical (though it is that too). It could be that Reed's troubles were informing his acting, but if that were true it was a shrewd piece of casting, and his character's self-loathing by the end positively radiated from the screen, but disillusionment was a major theme in among the regulation action sequences and nudity to remind you that this was a genre for the grown-ups in the nineteen-seventies. Ennio Morricone supplied the score.

[Eureka release Revolver on Blu-ray with these special features:

Limited Edition O-Card slipcase (2000 copies only) | 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 4K restoration | English and Italian audio options | Optional English Subtitles, newly translated for this release | Brand new audio commentary by author / critic Kim Newman | Brand new interview with film scholar Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA | Archival interview with actor Fabio Testi | Original Trailers and Radio Adverts | PLUS: A Limited-Edition Collector's Booklet (2000 copies only) featuring two new essays by author Howard Hughes; one covering the background to the making of Revolver, and an extensive piece on Ennio Morricone’s "Eurocrime" soundtracks]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Sergio Sollima  (1921 - 2015)

Italian director who turned in some of the best Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, as well as notable work in other genres. Made his debut in 1962 with a segment for the bawdy anthology Sex Can Be Difficult, but it was 1966's The Big Gundown that marked Sollima a director of intelligent, morally complex westerns. Face to Face and Run, Man, Run followed in the same vein, while Violent City and Revolver were tough, exciting thrillers. Largely worked in TV in the 80s and 90s.

 
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