Tag Archives: Anthony Quinn

The Don is Dead (1973)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two Mafia leaders feud.

After the death of his mob boss father, Frank (Robert Forster) finds himself embroiled in the middle of a feud between two rival crime families. Don Angelo (Anthony Quinn) comes to Frank’s aid and agrees to take over the family business and then once he dies everything will go to Frank. Luigi (Charles Cioffi) and his greedy lover Marie (Jo Anne Meredith) are not happy with this arrangement and in an attempt to weaken the alliance they arrange for Don to meet up with Frank’s girlfriend Ruby (Angel Tompkins) while Frank is away in Rome on business. The two immediately hit-it-off and begin a hot-and-heavy affair. When Frank returns and finds out about this he flies into a rage by first beating his girlfriend and then swearing further vengeance onto Don. Don in turn puts out a hit on Frank, which escalates an endless bloody mob war.

During the early ‘70s with the success of The Godfather studios were churning out mob themed films about as fast as they could be produced. Many of them were vastly inferior to Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, but this one may be the worst. The biggest problem is the nauseating violence that takes up the entire second-half. In The Godfather the killings had a lyrical quality that became a cinematic achievement and indelible on the viewer’s memory, but here the shootings are quite mechanical. Instead of being shocking they’re monotonous and impede the film from becoming anything more than just a cheap, uninspired Hollywood rip-off.

The film also lacks a likable character, which creates no emotional bond from the viewer to anyone onscreen nor any concern for who gets shot and who doesn’t. Tony (Frederic Forrest) is the only one with any type of arch as he wants out of the business at the start, but by the end is a hardened crime boss, which is too similar to Al Pacino’s quandary in The Godfather and only further cements this as being a poor man’s version of that one.

Forster is good despite displaying a rather affected accent. Quinn is also okay, but his character has little to do particularly by the second-half when he becomes almost comatose after suffering a stroke. What annoyed me most though was that there was never any final confrontation between the two. The whole thing revolved around a misunderstanding that they had, so a meeting at the end between them seemed almost mandatory, but it doesn’t occur making an already flawed film even more unsatisfying.

Marvin Albert, who was famous for writing the Tony Rome detective novels, penned this script, which is based off of his own novel, but the results are slight. The conflicts between the characters are not riveting and everyone comes off as being quite stupid for allowing themselves to be so easily mislead making the bloodshed that results from it even more grotesque. Maybe that’s the film’s point, but there have been so many better movies on this same subject that there really was no need for this one and whatever message it attempts to convey dies with the rest of the carnage on the screen.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 14, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Rated R

Director: Richard Fleischer

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Blu-ray (Region B/2), Amazon Video, YouTube

Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1973)

deaf smith and johnny ears

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Deaf mute saves Texas.

Deaf Smith (Anthony Quinn) and Johnny Ears (Franco Nero) are two special agents hired by President Sam Harris to put down any rebel factions that may try to impede Texas from achieving statehood. While Deaf, who lacks the ability to speak as well as hear, works on bringing down the bad guys by sneaking into one of their hideouts Johnny seems more interested in the women particularly a hooker named Susie (Pamela Tiffin) who he meets at the local cathouse.

These are the type of cheap, low grade, generic productions that end up giving spaghetti westerns a bad name. Had Sergio Leone been put in charge of this it might have been something special, but the director here has a poor eye for detail and lacks Leone’s poetic nuance. The action is poorly choreographed and unexciting and during a shootout inside a darkened cave it even becomes confusing and irritating. The music is loud and blares out melodies that do not reflect the period and the villain is bland and not given enough screen time to be able to create any type of effective menace.

Quinn, who doesn’t speak a single line of dialogue, is fabulous and manages to steal every scene that he is in. Nero on the other hand tends to overact especially with his exaggerated facial expressions. Tiffin, who appears nude from a distance during a segment done near a stream, shows a good campy side especially with the scene where she beats up Nero.

There was an actual Deaf Smith that the character here is loosely based on although the real Smith suffered only a partial loss of hearing and was not a mute. His real-life adventures were much more interesting than the ones portrayed here and the film would’ve done better had it stuck to those.

The movie also suffers from some anachronistic errors including having a scene featuring a Gatling Gun even though the setting for the film is 1836 and the gun itself wasn’t invented until 1862 when it was first used during the Civil War. The prop used to represent the gun looks cheap and flimsy while painted in a garish gold color that doesn’t deserve the Gatling name and only helps to cement this as barely watchable tripe.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Alternate Title: Los Amigos

Released: March 29, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Paolo Cavara

Studio: MGM

Available: None at this time.

The Happening (1967)

the happening

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kidnap him for kicks.

After a night of partying a group of hippies wake up the next morning hung over. Sandy (Faye Dunaway) and Sureshot (Michael Parks) are two strangers that find that they’ve slept together outside for the night and slowly become acquainted. To escape a police raid that is rounding up the drunken partiers and arresting them for vagrancy they hop onto a nearby boat with two other men that they’ve just met Taurus (George Maharis) and Herby (Robert Walker Jr.). They happily go along the lake until some neighborhood kids who are dressed in army gear shoot at them with their toy guns. Taurus doesn’t appreciate this and docks the boat and chases them into their house. Inside is the boy’s father Roc Delmonico (Anthony Quinn) who is a former Mafia Kingpin. He thinks these four strangers are aware of his past and there to kidnap him. The group decides to play along with the ruse hoping to get some money from the ransom and also because they are just bored and looking for some kicks.

The set-up has to be one of the flimsiest I have ever seen and the fact that it took four writers to come up with something that is full of holes and ludicrous is all the more confounding.  The concept seems like something that never got past the first draft and very poorly thought out by everyone involved. The idea that four strangers who have known each other for just a few minutes could get together and kidnap someone that they don’t know on a mere lark is ridiculous. I would think a former kingpin would be better prepared for something like this and have a back-up plan instead of passively and stupidly falling into the kid’s clutches with no idea of what to do. The story would have been far stronger had this been a planned crime.

The film’s overall vapid nature is shocking when you realize that is was done on a good budget by a major studio and top director Elliot Silverstein making me wonder if anyone even cared or thought about what they were making, or simply more interested in getting into the mod mood of the times. The filmmakers portray the younger generation as being one-dimensional thrill seekers with no real or discernible personalities and in the process creates characters that are boring, unrealistic, and uninteresting. The attempts at hipness are shallow, flat, and ultimately annoying.

Despite the low plausibility the movie is slickly done making for periods of fluffy entertainment. Case in point is when the kids have their car pulled over by a policeman (Eugene Roche) when they go through a red-light and carrying Roc tied up in the trunk. In an attempt to create a ‘diversion’ Sureshot decides to get out of the car with his hands up in the air. When the cop tells him to put his hands down he refuses, which then somehow makes all the other cars on the road crash into each other. Yes, it is fun to see a big pile-up, but believing that something like that could happen over something so silly is pushing things too much to the extreme like with a lot of things in this movie.

Things improve during the second half when Roc with the help of the kids turns the tables on everyone he knows after finding out that no one is willing to pay for his ransom. The scene where they tear up his house is kind of funky despite the fact that all the furniture they smash up looks like obvious stage props. Unfortunately the ending is as weak as the beginning and offers no pay off, which most likely will make most viewers feel like they’ve wasted an hour and 45 minutes of their time.

Quinn is good and gives the script and character a lot more energy and heart than it deserves. Dunaway, in her film debut, is hot and plays the part of an immoral lady looking for cheap thrills even when she knows better quite well. Walker Jr. is good simply because he plays the only character that has any type of believability, but unfortunately he is not on enough to be completely effective. Maharis who is best known for his excellent work as Buz Murdock in the classic TV-show ‘Route 66’ is solid as the volatile and slightly unhinged member of the group.

Oskar Homolka has a few memorable moments as an aging crime boss. One scene has him in a steam room along with his henchman wrapped tightly in towels and looking like giant carrots while another segment shows him at a poolside surrounded by a bevy of beautiful bikini clad women, which like the first scene, is visually funny.

The Supremes sing the film’s theme song, which became a top ten hit, but it doesn’t get played until the closing credits and even then not in its entirety.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 17, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Studio: Columbia

Available: None