Friday, April 3, 2009
Cry of A Prostitute (1974) review
CRY OF A PROSTITUTE 1974 QUELLI CHE CONTANO (THOSE WHO COUNT)
Henry Silva (Tony Anianti), Barbara Bouchet (Margie), Fausto Tozzi (Don Ricuzzo Cantimo), Vittorio Sanipoli (Don Cascemi), Mario Landi (Don Turi Scannapieco)
"You know you're really a selfish son of a bitch? All you think about is your own interests. But Mama knows everything...about everybody...and...you're gonna disappear, not me. That's been decided by the powers...by the men who count. And now...I have the power."
***WARNING! This review contains pics of gore, violence, strong language & sexual situations***
Don Coscemi holds a meeting with other members of the Mob about the despicable use of dead children for the distribution and transportation of drugs through customs. One of the mafiosi states that Don Ricuzzo Cantimo of Colle Pietra, an Italian American mobster deported from Brooklyn, is the suspected culprit. Cantimo took over the area from Don Turi Scannapieco. As a result, the two families of Cantimo and Scannapieco are at war with one another over the Colle Pietra province.
Don Coscemi brings in Tony Anianti, a powerful mobster from America to cause turmoil between the two families and find out who is using the young corpses for illegal purposes. But Anianti has a secret agenda that may bring down both families leaving a gruesome trail of death and destruction.
Andrea Bianchi directs this wonderfully nasty little Mafia movie with far more panache than his later "classic", BURIAL GROUND (1980). That's not to say the film is perfect, because it's far from seamless. Bianchi does show a lot of flair most of the time and incorporates a lot of sleaze and gruesome gore than what is usually found in these movies (and that is saying A LOT!). With no cops in sight, this film is strictly a Mafia movie laced with heavy exploitation trappings. Bianchi tosses politics out the window for a maddening 93 minutes of malevolence and misogyny.
There are really no good guys here save for a young couple, two servants of Cantimo, but they get no justice, either. Bianchi also introduces a late blooming plot device featuring a series of black and white flashbacks from Anianti's perspective.
Henry Silva is the bad ass "sweeper" sent in to investigate heroin smuggling inside the corpses of dead children. His toughness shines through during a scene in a tavern. Some thugs pour alcohol onto his shoes. He asks politely for the men to clean his shoes. They laugh resulting in Anianti proclaiming, "Look, MOTHERFUCKER! I repeat myself...clean my shoes!" Of course this leads to a big brawl and the bar is trashed. Taking a cue from FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964; itself taking a cue from YOJIMBO), the scriptwriters take an easy out with QELLI CHE CONTANO (1974) patterning so much after the Leone film, it must have been written rather quickly. Even still, the spectacular level of grim nuances makes all the Leone riffs seem fresh.
Even the final stand off has a serious western feel to it. The home of Cantimo is even reminiscent of countless Euroaters from years past. Also, the flashbacks are reminiscent of Leone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965) which has a similar reveal to the one involving Lee Van Cleef's character from the western movie.
As usual, Silva reeks charisma and brutal style. He's not a very likable character, but he's the one you'll be rooting for, and he does dish out some serious punishment to the sleazy occupants of Bianchi's world of crime. If he's not porking Barbara Bouchet while forcing her face inside of a pigs carcass(!), or belting the hell out her then having his way with her in a barn, he's shooting guys in the head and running them over with a steamroller. This is definitely one of Silva's best roles and one of the nastiest, grimiest and salacious movies you're ever likely to see. Despite the lovingly tasteless barrel scraping this movie wallows in, Silva elevates the material just enough to lend it a smidgen of respectability.
The location must have been sweltering as Silva sweats profusely. During a night scene, Silva goes to the refrigerator for a drink. He's sweating then, too. This is the salaciously savage sequence where he gives Bouchet's nymphomaniacal character what she wants by sexually assaulting her while shoving her face inside of a bloody pig carcass dangling from a meathook in the kitchen. If you've never seen Henry Silva and are a fan of sordid sinema, then this is a great place to start.
Silva has done some excellent movies both inside and outside the Italian crime spectrum. Not being a detriment to Bianchi's wonderfully squalid entry, a classic Silva essential is LA MALA ORDINA (MANHUNT 1972). Some other indispensable Silva crime pictures are his turn as the determined and chaste Commissioner Grandi in Umberto Lenzi's classic ALMOST HUMAN (1974) and the classy slow burn espionage epic, ASSASSINATION (1967) from director Emilio Miraglia.
The ubiquitous and ravishing Barbara Bouchet plays the wildly impractical purveyor of extremely rough sex named Margie. A prostitute from America, she is Don Cantimo's woman. He seemingly is okay with her promiscuous ways so long as she clues him in on the seedy details. The atmosphere of the movie is perfectly summed up in a dinner scene between Anianti, Cantimo and Margie. While they talk over their meal, Margie's eyes are locked on Anianti all the while gently sucking on a banana which does all her talking for her.
Her penultimate scene comes when she divulges her sick love for Anianti begging him not to leave. When he shoves her away, she states that if he goes, she will reveal what his true purpose is. Tony Anianti then gives the woman what she wants by belting the ever loving hell out of her first with his belt, then the buckle! What makes the scene even more sadistic, is that Anianti gets turned on by this as well, raping her (not sure if it counts as rape, but it sure aint' makin' love!) and she seemingly gets off on it despite the brutal beat down she invited on her person.
The violence level rivals Bianchi's later zombie opus, BURIAL GROUND (1980). The gore might not be as extreme, but the level of sleaze and general nastiness is on par, if not surpassing the zombie schlock cult classic. There's the opening decapitation followed by the grim discovery of heroin within a dead child's corpse. There's numerous shotgun blasts erupting in spraying crimson and a wild, bloody bisection when a crazed woman places one of the dead gangsters onto a saw table and proceeds to vertically cut the corpse in half!
This is one crime picture where nothing is sacred nor subtle. Violence is the order of the day and the world is full of totally unlikable characters. Those that are good are either insane, or end up dead. Even the buildings bear marks of violence such as the blood stained walls of the Inn Anianti stays at near the beginning. Bianchi also directed the nasty little giallo, STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (1975) and MALABIMBA, THE MALICIOUS WHORE (1979). Bianchi was privy to sexual violence in his films.
The score by Sante Maria Romitelli is memorable and reminiscent of Morricone especially in the cues that recall the haunting beauty of Edda Dell'Orso's voice. If one thing totally rises above the bleak atmosphere of this film, it's the score. There's one musical sting that isn't part of any cue, but it heralds the arrival of Silva's character. It's an ominous whistle that is sung by Anianti. It's loud and discordant, foreshadowing violence ahead. The tune, like most of Morricone's scores, becomes part of the soundtrack and also is part of a major plot point that is revealed late in the film that comes into play during the final minutes of the movie.
An amazingly tasteless production, Andrea Bianchi's sordid masterpiece of Mafia revenge is legitimately available on Italian DVD from Flamingo Video. Sadly, there's no English subtitles, but there is a fan friendly version utilizing the English dubbed track married to the Flamingo print and English subs for the scenes that were apparently cut for its US release. What's astonishing about the Italian version are the sheer number of cut scenes and bits and pieces of gore and sexual violation that are missing from the US version.
An entire sequence that sets up the whole plot is completely gone from the dubbed edition which no doubt made for a confusing ordeal to those that caught it in theaters in America. The US title, CRY OF A PROSTITUTE, has no real bearing on the film, but in one scene, Margie begins to shed tears as her husband forces sex on her. However, tears turn to ecstacy towards the aggressiveness of the ordeal.
Any fan of exploitation cinema should give this movie a viewing. However, it's vitally important that you skip the English dubbed release. If the film is minus any subtitled scenes, or isn't completely in Italian, you're missing out on one of the nastiest most vicious movies in all of cinema. The Italian DVD (without English options) is still available to buy at xploited cinema and the English friendly UNCUT version is available at TRASH ONLINE under its alternate title, GUNS OF THE BIG SHOTS.
This review is representative of the Italian R2 Flamingo DVD.
The uncut composite version is available at TRASH ONLINE. The link is here...