As is sadly so often the case with such unexpected last-minute dregs, rather than being some “lost” classic, Roberto Bianchi Montero’s La BRAVATA (roughly translated as “The Bravado” or “The Boast”) has earned its obscurity honestly. Along with CALIGULA’S HOT NIGHTS (1977), an almost unwatchable sex comedy, this turned out to be one of Montero’s last films (he was 70 at the time, after all), before he embarked on a short-lived stint in Italy’s porno ghetto with such films as ALBERGO E ORE (1981), with ’80s porno star Marina Frajese. Considering all this, it’s not surprising La BRAVATA doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend.
A pair of truck-drivers (Tommaso Palladino and Armando Marra) on their way to Switzerland transporting a shipment of cars are suddenly sidetracked by Patrizia (Franca Gonella) and Jeanette (Ajita Wilson), who are posing as a pair of hitchhikers; which actually turns out to be nothing more than a cleverly-planned distraction. Of course, this enables a group of thieves, led by Mario (Mario Garbetta), to steal a few cars off their lorry, but, unbeknownst to Mario, there is some hidden loot stashed in one of the cars. During their getaway, Mario is shot and goes into hiding with the help of Dr. Milani (Silvano Tranquilli), a disbarred doctor and friend of Patrizia’s who also appears to have some ulterior motives. In the meantime, to account for Mario’s sudden ‘disappearance’, this enterprising band of hooligans stage a fake kidnapping, which yields them some additional cash. Led by the psychotic – and understandably pissed – Walter Valtiero (Venantino Venantini), the smugglers are also eagerly awaiting their “shipment” and, when it arrives minus their loot, they proceed to hunt down those responsible.
Although the film sounds rather promising with its film noir-inspired plot of deceptions and betrayals, it remains quite slow on the uptake. There is some brief gunplay towards the end when both Valtiero’s and Mario’s gangs finally meet face to face, but the majority of the film is taken up with numerous scenes of talking heads by a mostly third-rate cast, which also includes the director’s son Mario Bianchi – a rare acting role from the director of NAPOLI… I 5 DELLA SQUADRA SPECIALE (1978), La BIMBA DI SATANA (1982) and many other low-budget films – as well as crimeslime regular Franco Garofalo. Even with some mild nudity thrown in courtesy of Gonella, Wilson and an unbilled Dirce Funari (frequent costar of numerous Joe D’Amato flicks, such as HARD SENSATION ), it overall does nothing to enhance the film, and in fact only slows it down even further. Even though there are some nice twists and turns throughout, including a surprise ending, the bland approach to the material is ultimately the film’s primary downfall. For a much more entertaining Montero crime flick, watch his earlier, noir-styled effort The EYE OF THE SPIDER (1972) instead; as clunky as that film is, at least it has both Antonio Sabàto and Klaus Kinski in there chewing the scenery.
Surprisingly, this mundane Italo-crime effort was released on Italian DVD courtesy of Classica Film, which seemed to specialize in children’s programming and cartoons. Considering this film’s rarity, the widescreen transfer is quite nice, if not 16x9, despite what the packaging proclaims. There is no inglese option, nor are any other extras included, either (unless you consider an onscreen catalogue of the company’s other releases a special feature, that is!). This was subsequently released by Mosaico Media in the same, non-English-friendly transfer.