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CHARLES BRONSON IN 'THE FAMILY' THAT IMPROVES 'VIOLENT CITY'

Title: Violent City Year: 1970 Rates: ***1/2 Re-released The Family: 1972 Rates: ****

Sergio Sollima's Italian-crime thriller VIOLENT CITY starring Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Jill Ireland is a bizarre cinematic tragedy being a worthwhile neo-noir on the one hand — while the other awkwardly serves the main problem...

Right when the audience settles into a romance between Bronson's hit-man character Jeff Heston during a tropical vacation, opening with Sollima filming Ireland's body like he would a pristine statue, Heston's shot, nearly killed and, now in prison, the inmates suddenly... without any explanation whatsoever... speak Italian: wherein Bronson's low-dubbed voice sounds nothing like his own...

Telly Savalas and Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland

This travesty occurs two more times... the second in what's the titular VIOLENT CITY of New Orleans, not long after Bronson reunites himself with Ireland's Vanessa Shelton, befitting her classy name and whose sophisticated mansion picnic's filled with intellectuals, clashing with the hired killer...

And, other than the usual theme involving a tough guy far too smitten with a much smarter, surreptitiously-experienced (not so chaste) dame, the central plot has a mob boss pressing (and blackmailing) Bronson's Heston to be his primary assassin — wherein the answer's always no: even when this particular don's the new husband of Ireland, and the central antagonist in Bronson's DIRTY DOZEN co-star Telly Savalas, whose potential villainy is mostly time-filling exposition... 

Umberto Orsini and Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY

While the best sequences involve not only action (like a central car race assassination), but the precise, methodical process of how the professional killer technically sets up each lethal score (revisited later in THE MECHANIC): which are the only genuinely integral moments involving the director and lead actor completely instep...

Overall influenced by American crime flicks MURDER BY CONTRACT, THE KILLING and POINT BLANK infused with European New Wave's surreal and stylized, psychedelic flashbacks — while the third-act provided obvious inspiration for Sam Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY and Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER, which ironically altered VIOLENT CITY into the 1972 re-release THE FAMILY that, albeit an extremely weak and contrived title, uses a single primary language — so it's the only recommended version, and finally provides viewers a terrific film, from beginning to end. 

Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY with Umberto Orsini
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY
VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY with Telly Savalas
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY with Telly Savalas
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY with Telly Savalas
VIOLENT CITY/THE FAMILY with Telly Savalas
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Michel Constantin in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY with Jill Ireland
Telly Savalas in VIOLENT CITY
Telly Savalas in VIOLENT CITY with Charles Bronson
Umberto Orsini and Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Charles Bronson in VIOLENT CITY
Jill Ireland in VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY
Opening Credits for VIOLENT CITY

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