Revolver (1973) – Blu-Ray Review

Revolver is an Italian cop movie from 1973 featuring Oliver Reed. Director Sergio Sollima had by this point made a bunch of spaghetti westerns, including some famous ones like The Big Gun Down and Face to Face. From there he moved into poliziottesco—his first was Violent City, which was written Lina Wertmüller.

The wife of Vito Cipriani (Reed), a prison warden, is kidnapped. The kidnappers want to trade their captive for a notorious criminal, and Cipriano releases the prisoner—but instead making the swap he kidnaps the criminal and won’t release him until he definitely gets his wife back. As the stand-off goes on, Cipriani uncovers a mass conspiracy.

It’s alright, a cop thriller with a political bent, although Reed does not play a convincing Italian. Nor does he seem to have been exactly sober while making the film. I couldn’t care that much about the story, but there is some menace to the hero of the movie.

As was typical of Reed, he was not the easiest person to work with, according to everyone else involved. By mid-afternoon he was too drunk to work and given to challenging his co-star Fabio Testi (who plays the prisoner/kidnap victim) to drinking games on-set throughout the shoot. Apparently the director and actors got along well enough with Reed, but the crew were so angry with him that the director gave the crew members a false finish date for Reed, allowing him to get away early and avoid a beating.

The two main performances are fairly strong despite these criticisms, and the ending has a good twist. It probably could have used a trim to about 90 minutes.

The Ennio Morricone score is a highlight of the film, and one of the tracks is used in the projection-booth scene from Inglorious Basterds. It’s also well-shot. When the film was released in the states, it went out with the tagline “it makes Death Wish look like wishful thinking.”

The Eureka Classics Blu-Ray comes with both an English and Italian dub, so take your pick. Also included are a new commentary from Kim Newman, a new interview with film scholar Stephe Thrower, an archival interview with Testi, and original ad spots and trailers. The limited edition comes with an O-Card slipcase plus a collector’s booklet with essays by Howard Hughes about the film’s background and Morricone’s scores for poliziottesco films.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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