Friday, June 3, 2011

Violent City (1970)

"The Godfather" Gave You an Offer You Couldn't Refuse. "The Family" Gives You No Alternative

Violent City aka The Family
Along with The Mechanic (1972) this is one of my favorite Charles Bronson movies.  Violent City, as it's called in the United Kingdom from the original Italian title of Citta violenta, or The Family in the United States, is another Bronson hitman movie but it just might be his best one.

The opening car chase is reason enough to watch the movie because in my opinion, it's on par with the one from Bullitt (1968) or possibly even better.  Ok, maybe not better but it's still really damn good.  Instead of the hilly and wide, winding streets of San Francisco, this chase is through the narrow roads, walkways and staircases of the Virgin Islands's shanty towns.  Like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, Bronson drives a Mustang.

An American hitman, Jeff Heston, (Bronson) is out for a leisurely drive with his lady-friend, Vanessa Shelton, (Jill Ireland) when a pair of goons in a midsize sedan start to follow them through the streets of St. Martin.  After the car chase, Heston chances upon his good friend Coogan sitting in a Porsche in the middle of the road, but when Heston gets out of his Mustang to greet him, Coogan shoots him point blank.  The goons arrive and try to finish Heston off but he rolls under the Mustang and manages to shoot them all before passing out from his own gunshot wound.

Heston wakes up in the hospital and is thrown in jail shortly thereafter where he has time to think about the woman he has fallen in love with and how he's finished with the assassination business.  When he is finally released he dismisses new job offers in order to get revenge on Coogan and to track down Vanessa. 

Coogan is a race car driver and during one of his races, Heston sets up shop in some brush a distance from the track.  He snipes the tire of Coogan's car who then veers off the track and dies in a fiery explosion.  But somebody has seen Heston in action and he soon receives photographs of himself shooting Coogan's tire.  Now he must find out who is blackmailing him.

Heston does eventually find Vanessa in New Orleans and it turns out she's kind of a gold-digging skank, but he still loves her.  She, however, is quite content without him. 

The blackmail trail leads to his old boss, Weber (Telly Savalis) who wants Heston back working for him.  Heston refuses, but guess who he sees skinny dipping in Weber's pool?  The power-hungry hussy, Vanessa Shelton, that's who.  She and Heston begin another affair but he finally realizes that she doesn't truly love him.  In fact, she may be one of the people conspiring against him.  Heston is forced to make some tough decisions and a lot of people end up dead.

Violence Rating: 3 out of 5
Booby Rating: 2 out of 5

Tomorrow we'll wrap up Charles Bronson Week with a review by Zoltan of a Chuck Norris movie.  I don't know about you but I'm getting pretty tired of Bronson films.  Just kidding.  I'm going to watch Kinjite and The Stone Killer now.