Friday, October 23, 2015

"La battaglia dei mods" (1966) d/ Franco Montemurro

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When seeking out historically accurate films centered around the British sixties youth subculture of "mods" you'd naturally look to Franc Roddam's 1979 offering, Quadrophenia, or perhaps Barney Platt-Mills' Bronco Bullfrog (1969), but the last place you'd turn is the Italians, or more specifically, a Neapolitan adventure director like Franco Montemurro. While we're on the subject of worst case scenarios, the last actor you'd probably want to cast as lead mod would be Lebanese/Egyptian bubble gum popster of the early sixties, Ricky Shayne. Of course, we're reviewing that very movie here tonight at the Wop, as a testament to the Italians innate inability to avoid clumsily tapping into a popular fad, exploiting it for the silver screen, and producing an end result that's fucking ridiculously laughable. This isn't Vespa scooters, Northern soul, wartime parkas, Fred Perry polos, or violent seaside clashes with rival "rockers". In fact, I'm not even sure what the hell I just watched... 

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"Haaaalp! I've just been fatally shivved in the back with the largest stiletto ever committed to celluloid!"
Ricky (Ricky Shayne) burns the midnight oils pretending to strum an acoustic guitar in a Liverpool bar, while lip syncing terrible pop non-hits for his mod buddies, that is, until a handful of rockers roll up on their motorcycles to crash the party, causing a judo chop-heavy, chair busting fracas in the club that'd leave Captain Kirk totes jealy, and managing to shank his girlfriend in the back with a Maglite-sized stiletto, in the process, those fucking grease monkeys. Though nobody seems particularly shocked or appalled about the death, Ricky splits Liverpool for the greener pastures of Rome where he can touch base with his wealthy businessman father (Joachim Fuchsburger), stopping off in France and Genoa along the way, to befriend and defend the locals from bullies, and cash in on his piped in musical talent. Like Gru (Enzo Cerusico), a friendly gimp who entrusts several thousand lira with the crazily-coiffed crooner, only for him to get lumped up by a prostitute's back alley muscle, and robbed blind. Nothing to dwell upon, Ricky, here's my father's heirloom guitar, tuned by Spanish anarchy, use it well in your travels!

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"Sooooomething, sooooomething, mooooods, sooooomething, somethiiiiiiiiiing..."
In Rome, Ricky does more of the same, connecting with the local scene, who sit around on public steps until they're chased by the authorities (less "mod" than "hippie", if you ask me), while alienating his dad's wealthy ways and avoiding the thinly veiled come on's of his father's fiesty young fiance, Sonia (Elga Andersen),  in favor of her younger sister, Martine (Eleonora Brown). Of course, Martine barges in to catch Sonia begging for kisses from the pouty loner, and splits brokenhearted. Rick's pop cuts freaky Sonia loose and tries to patch things up with his son, while he's in a seventy-five hour jam session for long duckats at a local bar. For those keeping score at home, that's over three days straight of pretending to play songs that consist of "yeah, yeah, yeah!" and "No! No! No!". Martine ruins his musical marathon when she stops in with her crew of opulent snobs, but when their sumptuous striptease party back at the house demands a bobbler sacrifice, a jealous Ricky makes the scene, with ample judo chops and breakable chairs for the lot of them. Could marriage be on the mind of the antisocial idealist? Like anybody cares...

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After pretending to play guitar and sing for 75 hours straight, Ricky (Ricky Shayne) regains focus after spotting a familiar posh bird in the crowd.
It should be noted that Psychedelic Scotsman, Donovan Leitch has a cameo in this mess somewhere. Shayne is guilty here of some of the most obvious non-performing ever to be seen in a movie, rivaling Jack Nicholson's Mumblin' Jim un-gig in Psych-Out two years later. A fittingly obscure, washed out VHS print (I couldn't even tell whether any of the chicks were hot, dammit) was all I've ever been able to dig up where this film is concerned, and I'm satisfied enough with the results that I'll probably never seek a quality upgrade, nor will I ever sit through this again, I can add, with full confidence.About as modern as a rotary telephone. One wop.

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"Your mates will have no choice but to find you a crashing bore if you shan't get your bristols out, like a good bird, then."
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