Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Great Unwatched: Mean Frank and Crazy Tony (1973)

(I'll just be blogging as I go today and do the stats after the last movie. )

Part of: Grindhouse Experience Box

Director: Michele Lupo

Runtime: 85 minutes

Mean Frank and Crazy Tony is a nutty little crime-comedy from Italy, one I probably would not have watched without this project. It'd be a shame, too, because I had a lot of fun with it.

Tony (Tony LoBianco) is a small-time Italian crook who wants to make it big. Frank (Lee Van Cleef) is a big-time mafioso in town to sniff out whoever's been selling him out to his rival, Louis Annunziata (Jean Rochefort). Circumstances land them in jail together, where the earnest Tony earns the hard-bitten Frank's trust by saving his life. Tony hatches an audacious escape plan so that Frank can exact revenge. Soon this mismatched pair are in France, headed to Annunziata's frozen fish processing plant, with half of the French police force in pursuit.

What makes this film entertaining is that's equal parts Tony being crazy (that is, highly excitable but also incredibly clever) and Frank being mean (no-bullshit and violent as hell). For as goofy as the parts about Tony are, there are some surprisingly nasty bits of violence where Frank and the mob are concerned. That dichotomy just adds to the film's overall charm, however.

Worth the Purchase: Yes, especially for the new take on the phrase "sleeping with the fishes" at the end.

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