John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

Clint Eastwood stars in Sergio Leone's 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'

‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

There are two kinds of people, my friend. Those who love Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and those who resist the machismo and gallows humor of what is arguably the definitive spaghetti western. Leone’s first real attempt at mythologizing his vision of the American west (shot, of course, in the […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1967) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]

Franco Nero stars in Sergio Corbucci’s 'Django'

The original ‘Django’ on Amazon Prime

Along with Sergio Leone’s Clint Eastwood trilogy, Sergio Corbucci’s Django (1966), starring Italian hunk Franco Nero as the gritty mercenary who drags a coffin behind him, was one of the films that set the tone and attitude and style spaghetti westerns. Wandering a desolate desert of ghost towns and miserable frontier dropouts under the bootheels […]

Luc Merenda and James Mason star in Fernando di Leo's mob revenge thriller

‘Kidnap Syndicate’ – The business of crime on Amazon Prime and Fandor

Luc Merenda, the corrupt cop of Fernando di Leo’s Shoot First, Die Later, takes the lead again in di Leo’s Kidnap Syndicate (Italy, 1975) but this time he’s neither cop nor crook. Mario Colella is just a simple mechanic and working class single father who gets caught in the middle of mob business and corporate […]

Henry Silva and Woody Strode in Fernando di Leo's gangster classic

‘The Italian Connection’ – Mob schemes on Amazon Prime and Fandor

The Italian Connection (Italy, 1972), from Italy’s king of crime cinema Fernando di Leo, stars Mario Adani (the top dog thug of the Americano’s gang in di Leo’s earlier Caliber 9) as Luca, a remarkably affable and well-liked pimp whose popularity on the street makes the Milan boss nervous. So he frames Luca for a […]

Luc Merenda stars in Fernando di Leo's crime drama from Italy

‘Shoot First, Die Later’ – Revenge of the corrupted on Amazon Prime

Shoot First, Die Later (Italy, 1974), directed by Italian gangster specialist Fernando di Leo, stars Luc Merenda as Domenico Malacarne, a hotshot cop on the Milan strike force. Young, good looking, and always at the center of big, splashy cases, Domenico is the department poster boy for police heroism and he kicks off the film […]