Sunday, March 15, 2009

RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973)


Ricco is not really a mean machine. Indeed for most of the film I wanted to slap him just to see if he’d react! Lead thespian Chris Mitchum seems to have inherited his dad’s eyes and chin but none of his expressive acting ability. If ever an actor could be described as a wooden old Chris is the one. It doesn’t help that he sports one of the worst hair styles a guy could wear from the period. It’s not actually long, its not actually short- its as if he is trying to look like Davy Jones of the Monkees and that is just not macho, buddy.

But- besides having a near blank at its center (which is hardly unknown in the action genre) the film really cooks. It’s not very well paced and it suffers from some odd turns but overall it gets the job done- kind of like Ricco himself I guess. Director Tulio Demicheli keeps things interesting in the standard exploitation way by interjecting an action scene or some nudity as frequently as possible. Taking its genre cues from DEATHWISH and its imitators it has Mitchum as the son of a murdered man who was involved with organized crime. On release from prison everyone expects him to tear into the people who took over his dad’s business but he has no interest. He’s a pretty ‘live & let live’ kind of guy- or he is until he’s pushed over the edge. RICCO is not a great movie but I loved its downbeat ending, the fact that Riccos’ past love is a gold digging slut, the heavy use of bloody squibs, the wussy little car Ricco drives around, Arthur Kennedy’s mild scenery chewing as the main villain, the double crosses from supposed friends and the copious nudity. Oh my god – the nudity! I could watch Barbara Bouchet writhe nude on the hood of a car for hours and although RICCO only has a couple of minutes of this activity there is always the rewind button. My only wish for that scene to make it slightly better would have been to have her press her bare nipples against the windshield. When the guys inside the car turned off the wipers I thought that was where we were going, but sadly not. That woman must have been at the height of her beauty at this point but if she got better looking after this I’d be afraid to see it. I might just explode.

But as arousing as her scenes were I think a certain part of my body may have suffered near terminal sympathetic pain from the knife-on-genital-violence later on. Wow! I’d heard about it but nothing really prepares you for seeing that. If you have any concerns about seeing some damned realistic violence of the castration type I’d steer clear. Its nightmare material, I assure you.

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