Italian writer/director Fernando Di Leo has a modest cult for his bluntly effective, brightly colored urban crime pics. With more crude energy than finesse, his mob stories keep your attention even as they miss on style & technique. Here, his usual qualities (or lack thereof) are reversed, with smartly handled, even swaggering action/chase sequences in & around Rome(?) showing hard-nosed filmmaking savvy in support of a pretty thin story. Progress? (He still can’t stage, shoot or edit a fight to save his soul.) The story pits top mobster Jack Palance against Edmund Purdom’s two-bit loan shark operator, but the real action follows a couple of low echelon enforcers (Al Cliver; Harry Baer) who work up an inside scam that should leave them holding the assets of both sides, and with a cold dish of revenge on the side. Di Leo works up plenty of twists & turns in his street chases, not so much in his plot. Only the unexpected homoerotic angle between the boys surprises. Mostly, this is breezy fun and looks good in the non-anamorphic DVD from RARO-Video.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: An earlier Stateside release (slightly trimmed) came out as MISTER SCARFACE even if Palance looks about the same as usual. And playing Luigi, the loan shark boss, that's the very same Edmund Purdom who took over THE EGYPTIAN/’54 for Marlon Brando and who stood in (and lip-synched) for a too fat Marion Lanza as THE STUDENT PRINCE/’54.