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  Redneck What's On Telly
Year: 1973
Director: Silvio Narizzano
Stars: Franco Nero, Telly Savalas, Mark Lester, Ely Galleani, Duilio De Prete, Maria Michi, Beatrice Clary, Bruno Boschetti, Aldo De Carellis, Tommy Duggan, Giuseppe Mattei, Antonio Paris, Wanda Pallini, Liliana Fioramonti, Jean-Pierre Clarain, Britta Barnes
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: This three person gang have been planning a jewel robbery, and today is the day those plans come to fruition. Leader Memphis (Telly Savalas) impatiently paces around outside the shop they want to raid, then his associates arrive, right hand man Mosquito (Franco Nero) and his girlfriend and getaway driver Maria (Ely Galleani). The two men burst into the shop but the jeweller tries to flee, with the result that the impulsive Memphis guns him down; Mosquito is shocked, but not shocked enough to stay behind as his companion grabs the boxes of diamonds and a car chase ensues...

This is a film that certainly starts with a bang, and finishes with quite a few more, but Redneck is few people's idea of a classic Italian thriller. It was directed by Silvio Narizzano, a man who had an interesting career let's say, his best known work being Georgy Girl though he tackled a variety of subjects over the years, both on the big screen and the small. Here he exhibited a sure hand on the action side of the plot, but the script was too determined to have the audience sitting in squalor for the duration for this to be called truly enjoyable for most, even if this did lend proceedings a particular atmosphere.

The kind of atmosphere that made you want to take a shower, but at least it was distinctive. Also distinctive was Savalas, he who played the redneck of the title; already a star of movies, he was about to become one of the world's most recognisable TV cops as Kojak began about the same time this was released, not that Telly sustained his fame much for this movie. Why he was a redneck is something of a mystery as it added nothing to the plot except his bizarre accent, a Southern drawl that came and went in the dubbing process, unless we were supposed to think that his heritage was the root of his psychopathology.

For make no mistake, Telly was out of control here, not so much chewing the scenery as completely demolishing it as if to acknowledge that he may as well go way over the top as hardly anyone was going to see it anyway, so let's get paid and go home. With Nero he makes a curious parenting couple, and as every parent needs a child, they got one in young Oliver! himself, Mark Lester, playing Lennox, a young heir to a millionaire who is hiding in the back seat of the car the gang steal after crashing their last vehicle. This makes Redneck the only time you'll get to see Oliver Twist kick Kojak in the bollocks, as the boy is none too keen on being kidnapped, but a few hours spent in their company and he has changed his mind.

If anything, he now prefers his new guardians to his actual mother and father, as Mosquito plays mummy realising the child needs to be set a good example, as Memphis is about as far from that as can be. Oddly the sole female in the gang proves superfluous to this arrangement, not even as a sister figure, and Memphis sees to it that she's out of the picture for the latter half of the story. There are a couple of themes jostling for position here, one being Lennox discovering his lust for life as he tags along with these criminals, and the other the elusive nature of riches, as no matter what Memphis and Mosquito do they will never be as wealthy as their young friend. This poverty is illustrated in the dingy visuals, as even when they end up at a palace it's a rundown affair, and most of the rest of this is set in dilapitated buildings and muddy fields. There's a despair to Redneck that takes the edge off its idiosyncrasies, although Savalas fans (and who isn't?) will be rewarded. Music by Maurizio Catalano.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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