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  Banana Joe Frankly Spencer
Year: 1982
Director: Steno
Stars: Bud Spencer, Marina Langner, Mario Scarpetta, Gianfranco Barra, Enzo Garinei, Gunther Philipp, Giorgio Bacardi, Gisela Hahn, Nello Pazzafini, Carlo Reali, Salvatore Basile, Edy Biagetti, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Benito Pacifico, Sergio Smacchi
Genre: Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Banana Joe (Bud Spencer) makes his living on an island off the coast of South America by growing bananas, as his name implies, and selling them as a supplier. It's a simple life, and one he does not wish to jeopardise as he refuses to leave his boat when he delivers yet another load of the fruit and takes back his own supplies in return, he's simply not interested in the world outside his comfortable, uncluttered existence. However, all that is about to change when he returns home after another trip with his produce and finds a businessman, Moreno (Enzo Garinei), sizing up his operation with a few henchmen. Fortunately, Joe is very strong so has no trouble sending them on their way...

Unfortunately, there's a certificate Joe should really have if he wishes to continue selling his bananas, and Mareno and his gangster boss Guido (Mario Scarpetta) are prepared to exploit this loophole to make the most of his operation, on which they wish to establish as casino to fleece customers of their cash. If only our hero had told them where to go in the first ten minutes then he would have saved himself a lot of bother, but then there would be no story, which was notable for being the rare Bud Spencer vehicle where he contributed to the screenplay; indeed, the whole idea for the story was his, so you expect the results to be tailor made to his brawling form of humour.

You'd be right to think that, as everything plays as broadly as possible, much to his numerous fans' delight, even if perhaps they missed the presence of Spencer's right hand man Terence Hill (or was he Hill's right hand man? Let's call them equals). This was one of the star's solo outings, where he got to play essentially a version of Popeye the Sailor, only he was a dead ringer for Bluto, a match which was surprisingly successful particularly when Spencer seemed to have been reading his Franz Kafka immediately before penning his plotline as Joe gets embroiled with the most intractable bureaucracy imaginable, at least in the context of a movie where the sight of the protagonist whomping anyone who irritates him on the top of their head with a mighty fist was a cue for laughs.

This unfolds once Joe has been persuaded he really needs that licence to sell bananas, so off to the city he goes in a lighthearted picaresque that nevertheless appeared to have something to say about the problems of being choked with red tape from the officials who try to organise our lives. It wasn't deep, but it did have a brain in its head when Bud wasn't punching people with such force that they land smack on top of roofs, or prompting snivelling bad guys to leap out of windows to get away from him, which is curious since you imagine that would hurt just as much as the patented piledriver thump from the big guy. It could be summed up by the scene where Joe cannot get a birth certificate because be does not have an identity card.

And he cannot get an identity card because he does not have a birth certificate, a simple but effective problem as far as illustrating the issues the film had with bureaucracy went, and one which would be understood, even related to, the world over. Elsewhere it was pretty much business as usual in an episodic fashion as Spencer got involved with a nightclub singer (Marina Langner) who assists him, but more pertinently spooks the various lowlifes in the criminal underground who the film equates with the governments for providing unnecessary complications to life. He also got to join the Army, complete with seriously overexcited sergeant for him to wind up seeing as how he was only there for yet another certificate, and at one point landed himself in prison when he goes on an illegal rubber stamping spree, proving himself a man of the people when he OKs a wide variety of documents the public have been queueing for hours to see about. Don't go thinking this was a major departure for Spencer, it was more of the same really, but the social comment was interesting. Music by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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