Revolver (1973)

One of the most popular Italian Crime films it boasts good direction, acting and soundtrack - highly recommended. US R0 DVD release.

The Film

In the 1970s, with the Spaghetti Western on its last legs and the sword and sandal pelpum a distant memory, many Italian film directors would turn to crime...
Petty criminals Jean-Daniel and Milo Ruiz (Fabio Testi) are on the run from the police, but Jean-Daniel has been shot and quickly succumbs to his injuries; Ruiz buries him by a river in the hope the body will never be found. Meanwhile in Paris, a business man is assasinated by a motor-cycle gunman, and after the suspected gunman's body is located, singer Al Niko identifies it as belonging to his friend Jean-Daniel. At the same time in Milan, prison vice-governor Vito Cipriani (Oliver Reed) is engaging in a bout of passion with his young wife. Cipriani is called to the prison to deal with an inmate trashing the medical ward, and on his return he finds his wife has been kidnapped, a mysterious phone call demands that he release Milo Ruiz if he wants his wife returned alive. Cipriani eventually frees the inmate, but Milo has no idea who would go to such lengths to have him released. An attempt to trade prisoner for wife goes wrong, and their plan gone awry, the kidnappers head to Paris. Although offered a chance, Ruiz is unwilling to kill Cipriani and the two are forced to work together to head for Paris, to recover Anna Cipriani, and unravel the twisting motives and conspiracy behind the release and kidnap...

The storyline is strong and from the opening, with the murder of a business man, and introduction to a series of characters whom we do not see again until much later in the film; to the continually twisting storyline that will often catch you unaware – especially once the protagonists reach Paris, it keeps you interested. Most importantly for a film with complex motives, they all make sense in the end, and none of the plot twists seem gratuitous. Characterisation is good and one of the notable features of the script is the absence of black and white; completely good and bad characters. Milo Ruiz is a criminal, but is unwilling to kill, and ultimately prepared to help Cipriani track down his wife. Cipriani is more than willing to use violence to get his way, but is motivated entirely by concerns for his wife's safety and has no higher purpose. Later, the conspirators justify their actions such that they do not believe that what they are doing is wrong. This takes the plot away from the usual good versus evil and makes it a lot more thought-provoking. Although the film betrays its exploitation roots with several scenes of nudity and violence, these all fit in well with the plot and back up the strong characterisation, especially of the two leads. The pacing varies from fast to slow, and although some points of the film seem to drag, it mostly flows well - building to a very strong climax and conclusion.

Sollima consistently fills the frame with detail: filmed primarily in Paris, although with some locations in the Alps – every scene of this film looks good, from the grimy gaol cells to the abandoned industrial plants and the Parisian streets. Editing and camera-work is pretty standard and mostly remains in the background; a long way from the MTV-style editing with its distracting zooms, pans and rapid cuts that curse most modern films. The action scenes are shot well - the fist fights and gun fights look very gritty and real thanks to some good editing, and blood is kept to a realistic level – a long way from the explosive bullet impacts of Lucio Fulci's later genre entry Contraband (1980) and its kin. Ennio Morricone provides the music, and the name alone should tell you that we are in for a treat. From a strong piano main theme to sensitive love music, Morricone's score adds to the mood without distracting from what is on screen – surely the goal of any film score. The main theme will crop up again later in Morricone's soundtrack for The Untouchables (1987).

While the whole cast do fine, the two leads give very impressive performances. Oliver Reed is very believable as the strong prison governor, his maturity and physical presence alone mean that you can believe that he would win in a fight without needing any trickery, however, his concern for his wife also comes across strongly and his scenes with her have good chemistry. Fabio Testi was often considered the pretty boy of Italian cinema, and Revolver offers him a rare chance to act - this he does, and brings a good range to the role. There are a few familiar faces in the rest of the cast, and generally strong performances all round.
Overall Revolver is a very impressive film, a good storyline backed up with solid production, acting and especially music. A must have for any fans of euro-crime, and a good starting point for anyone interested in an exciting sub-genre of cult cinema.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? Oliver Reed - star of Hammer's Curse of the Werewolf (1961), and recent blockbuster Gladiator (2000)
Fabio Testi - Star of violent Lucio Fulci films Four of the Apocalypse (1974) and Contraband (1980)
Directed by anyone interesting? Sergio Sollima - a strongly left wing director, responsible for Spaghetti Western Run, Man, Run (1968) and Crime Thriller Violent City (1970).
Any violence? Several people get killed, and there are a few fist fight scenes. Blood is minimal and a realistic level.
Any sex? A few short topless scenes.
Who is it for?
Fans of euro-crime films, and euro-cinema in general will want to check this one out. A good starting place for anyone new to the sub-genre.
Good soundtrack? Ennio Morricone provides a very strong and varied score that enhances the film greatly.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 1.85:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The picture quality is good, some noticable grain throughout, and some minor print damage. Always Watchable.
Audio Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds great, no hiss.
Subtitles None for film.
Run TimeMain Feature: 1hr 49m 31s
Extras The disc includes:
  • Revolver: Calling the Shots - original DVD documentary. Interviews with Sollima and Testi, in Italian with optional English subtitles, filled with clips from the film. Very interesting. 13m 29s
  • International Cinema Trailer (no dialogue), grainy print  - 3m 37s
  • US Cinema Trailer (English dialogue) under title Blood in the Streets, rather damaged print - 1m 55s
  • US Radio Spots: 32 seconds and 1 minute - title Blood in the Streets
  • Poster and Stills Gallery - 60 images, various posters and some black and white publicity stills
  • Talent Bios - Oliver Reed, Fabio Testi, Sergio Sollima and Ennio Morricone - detailed.
  • Easter Eggs - two more short stories from documentary interview of Sergio Sollima. Accessed from Extras menu page. Runtime 1m 42s and 1m 44s.
      Packing Standard Amaray case
      Region Region 0 - NTSC
      Other regions? Japanese R2 release, OAR non-anamorphic, Italian dub, no English options. No additional extras,
      Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language, all credits are in English.



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      All text in this review written by Timothy Young - January 2006.
      Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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