Violent City / Città violenta (1970)

4.5 out of 5

New Orleans is the city in question in Sergio Sollima's answer to Point Blank.

A lean and mean Charles Bronson plays a consummately professional hit man, double-crossed and left for dead by his last patron and, it seems, by the woman he loves, real-life partner Jill Ireland. As his subsequent mission of vengeance reaches its fruition, he finds himself blackmailed by local crime kingpin Telly Savalas, who wants Bronson in his exclusive employ. When it turns out that the mob boss is now married to Ireland, things quickly become personal.

Sollima's stylish action thriller is much more convincing than many of the countless other films in which Bronson has played similar roles. Its fairly leisurely pace provides a steady build up rather than instant gratification and only with the denouement does it become apparent how masterful this build up is. The last five minutes of the film represent something close to authentic cinematic genius.

The casting is uniformly perfect, from Bronson's not-quite-stone killer to Umberto Orsini's sleazy mob lawyer, and Ennio Morricone's doom-laden march of a soundtrack is up there amongst his best.

Released in the States as The Family.

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