Guns Of The Big Shots / Quelli che contano (1974)

5.0 out of 5

Andrea Bianchi, the sordid director of select examples of Italian sleaze delivers likely his best picture with this grueling Mafia movie starring Henry Silva. Tony Aniante is hired by a round table of Mafiosi to learn which family is utilizing the disrespectful method of transporting drugs tucked away inside the corpses of children. Aniante also has personal reasons for taking this job. It quickly becomes a gore drenched version of A Fistful Of Dollars, 1964, generously laced with down and dirty attributes whose heights were seldom reached in this, a genre already rife with rampant bloodshed and violence. Western fans will also recognize the main villa seen here in many Italian oaters.

Silva, during his heyday, was a formidable presence. Whether he was the villainous 'Chink' in The Tall T, 1957 opposite Randolph Scott, or menacing Frank Sinatra as a Karate chopping assassin in The Manchurian Candidate, 1962, Silva's attributes obviously attracted Italian film producers who utilized his talents in scores of lethally violent pictures. In a movie filled with dementia, Silva's Tony Aniante is just as unhinged as the remainder of the demented cast of unholy characters. Save for a distraught young couple, seemingly everyone in the film suffers from some malady of one sort or another; Don Cantimo's impotence, Margie's nymphomania and a guilt ridden mothers insanity are some examples.

The score is quite good and some cues recall the great voice of Edda Dell'Orso. The score also apes Morricone's work in that the soundtrack becomes part of the film in places and Bianchi balances this creativity with the lascivity and gruesome violence quite well. The Italian title translates to Those Who Count, a line of dialogue spoken by Silva at a crucial point in the film. Hardly a great movie in the truest sense, it's without doubt an incredibly and nastily entertaining piece of exploitation heaven that hits all the right marks with the sharpshooter like precision of Silva's character in the movie.

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