Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The City that Never Sleeps: Violent City (1970)

Bronson, thy name is toughness. Although Lee Marvin is without a doubt my favorite tough guy actor of all time, Bronson is close behind him. Violent City (a.k.a. The Family), directed by Sergio Sollima (The Big Gundown), is a fast-paced hard-boiled shot of sleaze, violence and general politically incorrect behavior. In other words, it’s prime B-movie fare. Bronson plays a hit man named Jeff (but we all know it’s really Bronson playing himself, right?), who has a pretty big bone to pick with a syndicate crime boss played by Telly Savalas. Yeah, you heard me right -- Telly Savalas. You see, someone tried to rub Bronson out while he was on vacation with this hot blonde chick, played by Jill Ireland (Bronson’s future wife). Who was the mastermind behind the ambush? Well, Telly Savalas of course. And Jill Ireland too. In fact, before Bronson blacked-out he saw Jill take off in a little sports car. So anyway, a lot of the film is just about how Bronson is looking for some serious payback. He gets to beat, stab, shoot, break, and maim people left and right. He’s a regular Mr. Murder. He even slaps around Jill Ireland a couple of times, but she likes it. No, she really does. Eventually Bronson and Kojak have a little showdown, mano e mano. And Bronson ends up with the girl in the end. I think. I can’t remember since I was drunk. Violent City was written by European filmmaker Lina Wertmuller, who made a number of provocative films in the 1970s including the original Swept Away and Seven Beauties, the latter of which garnered her Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Director. The film also contains a fantastic score by Ennio Morricone. The film may not be Bronson’s best (I’ll leave that for Mr. Majestyk, which I hope to write about soon), but it’s right up there.

Violent City is available on DVD from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment and contains a great 15-minute interview with the director, the original theatrical trailer and more. But really, what more could you possibly want from a Bronson movie called Violent City? Perhaps only that it was longer.

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