Crazy Joe (1974)

2.0 out of 5

Craziness is just what this crimer-bio from 1974 lacks. That and some even-handed direction, intelligent performances and lead Peter Boyle restraining himself from bad imitations of Richard Widmark and Edward G. Robinson. Still, numerous blurb books aren't justified in dismissing this movie altogether, as it boasts its share of colorful developments, one being a subplot involving Boyle uniting his petty mobsters with the black militant brotherhood,led by Fred Williamson, while in jail. The Hammer definitely deserves his smash zoom following a racist barber refusing to cut "n---er hair", this incident leading to some impressive barbershop dismemberment and a riot.

The conflict between old-school Mafia and reckless young criminals serves as the main storyline, and this provides little new material to mine. Paula Prentiss, as Boyle's moll, has a standout moment in the finale's freeze-frame, unusual as she has no part in the body of the movie, while a miscast Rip Torn, Eli Wallach, and Henry Winkler contribute mediocre to predictable performances.

Musical score utilizes some Scorsese-esque 60s pop tunes, but the film's theme contains a Lawrence Welk string quartet and the kind of awful samba/rhumba beats heard escaping those primitive organs from the 1980s, often sold from doorways in shopping malls. The movie's lack of style and inability to stage any imaginative action sequences hurt it in the end, this being a mob movie and all. And the script and performances suffer under director Carlo Lizzani's limpid attempts at any Sidney Lumet realism.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics