19 February 2010 | Bunuel1976
THE GUN (Pasquale Squitieri, 1978) **1/2
Another unknown and quasi-vintage Italian film that I happened across at my local DVD rental store (obviously exclusively released on its home ground) that follows on the heels of the same director's THE REPENTER (1985) that I similarly discovered and watched just over a year ago. I would say that this was the better of the two thanks to a commanding central performance from Stefano Satta Flores (who used to dub Harrison Ford's voice in the Italian-language prints of the original STAR WARS trilogy)! He plays a middle-aged engineer who, getting increasingly worried about the rising crime rate in his surroundings, follows the advice and example of his sleazy drinking cronies (whose relaxation activities include photographing nubile girls in the nude) to arm himself with the titular weapon; the problem is that he starts carrying – and, occasionally, brandishing – it with him everywhere (at his workplace, while taking a walk with his estranged wife Claudia Cardinale, etc.). Things come to a head when his rebellious daughter decides to teach him a lesson: picking her up from a cafe' late at night, he is invited inside and made 'welcome' by her friends; however, one of them shoots off the gun while admiring it and kills his buddy in the process! The father panics and asks his daughter to tell everybody that she had lifted his gun from his drawer – because his career would otherwise be ruined by the ensuing scandal following a police investigation. Back home, he overhears the daughter tell Cardinale that it was all a hoax and he totally flips: beats up his daughter and throws her out of the house; quits his job and evades his friends; starts following his wife around (who has left him and found work as a secretary), etc. This last act proves to be his undoing because, barricading himself inside an upper-level room in the same condominium with his gun firmly in hand, he is taken for a deranged kidnapper (a boy happens to be locked in the room with him) and, since Cardinale's attempts to reassure the fidgety policy that he is harmless arrive too late, he is soon mercilessly laid to rest by a cold-blooded sniper from the opposite building. The film can be read as Italy's answer to the box office phenomenon of DEATH WISH (1974) and also makes for a fine companion piece to the contemporaneous – and superior – IL GIOCATTOLO (1979; starring Nino Manfredi); even so, Squitieri is not above introducing crude humor among the tragic situations depicted (particularly the opening burglary perpetrated by three kids – one of whom cannot help himself and defecates in mid-robbery and another is shot dead by the police egged on by the delirious rallying cries of the bloodthirsty inhabitants)! As usual with Italian genre movies of the period, the groovy music score is one definite element that stands out from the mix.