Un Tipo con una faccia strana (1973)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - Italy  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This Italian/Spanish co-production is an interesting if not entirely successful variation on the Italian crime film trend of the 1970's. Un Tipo Con Una Faccia Strana (usually known to American viewers as The Mean Machine or Cauldron Of Death) has the plot and structure of a revenge thriller (not to mention the violence) but it goes about its business in an easygoing, philosophical way that is distinctly European. For example, Ricco spends as much pondering whether or not vengeance is worth pursuing as he does taking on the bad guys. That said, Un Tipo Con Una Faccia Strana doesn't skimp on the adult content: Barbara Bouchet has a memorable moment where she does a striptease to confound a pair of would-be attackers and a scene where a boss takes his revenge on a henchman who has slept with his wife is stomach-churning in its brutality. In terms of acting, Chris Mitchum's lead performance is a bit unsteady in spots but Bouchet lends a charming, spirited presence and Arthur Kennedy finds some unexpected dramatic shadings in what would otherwise be a typical mob-boss role. Tulio Demichelli's direction has the occasional rough spot (there's one fight scene with some unconvincing martial arts) but he gives the proceedings a decent sense of style and does a nice job helming the action setpieces that open and close the film. All in all, Un Tipo Con Una Faccia Strana is a second-tier example of the Italian crime film but has enough unique elements to make it worthwhile for genre fans.