Wake Up and Kill
directed by Carlo Lizzani
starring Robert Hoffmann, Gian Maria Volonté, Lisa Gastoni
Some 1960s films have little going for them beyond camp value, but this gritty technicolor noir piece holds up well and is packed with great scenes, great lines and interesting camera work. Suave Luciano Lutring (Robert Hoffman) is a small time smash and grab guy. He works out of Milan where jewelry shop owners have never heard of reinforced glass. Off on a side-gig the resort of San Remo (the poor man’s Monte Carlo) he meets lounge singer Yvonne (Lisa Gastoni). She’s got a few miles on her and the mandatory 1960s wig but she looks pretty good in the red sequin number with a cut-away midriff. The pair hit it off, and after a few jobs Lutring pops the question: he’s so sincere he even BUYS a ring. He could just as easily stolen it, but hey – the guy’s got heart. After a torrid romance it sinks in on Yvonne this is not a good relation, but I’ll give them this – they are both loyal to a fault. When Lutring gets in over his head, she tries to buy him some time with icy cool inspector Maroni (Gian Maria Volonté).
But this IS an old movie, the continuity is occasionally weak and no one here really looks like a classically Italian mobster. Hoffmann looks like a young Paul Newman, and his moll Ms. Gastoni is in the phase of her career where she’s best at playing the sexually frustrated older woman. The big budget moment comes at the beginning, a classy car beat with hammers and set on fire. The disk has an English audio track but few other features but the film itself is filled with great dialog. My favorite exchange: [Yvonne] “I wanted someone like you with your face and your eyes and everything else you’ve got. But I wanted someone without a police record.” [Luciano] “But angel – you’re my woman.” I shed a tear. There’s nothing classy here, but it’s a fast-paced, complex film with great actors and the sort of dialog you can quote with your friends. In the end, Hollywood justice prevails but along the way it’s a wild ride in the gritty streets of industrial northern Italy.