Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
It's possible that many American viewers will order Borsalino & Co. by mistake, thinking it
is the original hit import Borsalino from four years earlier. This Alain Delon - produced
gangster sequel is an expensive production with plenty of basic mob mayhem to dish out -- bullet
for bullet, it has as much violence as John Milius' Dillinger of the previous year.
At the funeral of his dead partner Francois Capella, mobster Roch Siffredi (Alain Delon)
swears vengeance. Both a tortured hood and the cooperative police commissioner Cazenave finger
wealthy industrialist Volpone (Riccardo Cucciolla) as the murderer, but Siffredi waylays the wrong
target on a train. A gang war breaks out. Siffredi loses his Marseilles casino, his theater club
and his house of prostitution. All of his gang are wiped out save for his loyal side-man
Fernand (Lionel Vitrant). In collusion with right wing-extremists and German Nazis, Volpone
discredits Siffredi and has him committed to an asylum. He replaces Cazenave with a puppet, takes
over all of Siffredi's concerns and brings heroin into the country, "To further soften the sons of
the rich and influential." But Fernand springs Siffredi from the nuthouse, and a new gang
war gets underway.
Jean-Paul Belmondo's photo is seen above a coffin, linking Borsalino & Co. to its source.
Composer Claude Bolling also returns, but his score doesn't repeat the upbeat radio hit from the first
film. The original Borsalino was sort of an outgrowth of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid, a sentimental gangland fairy tale where the costumes and cars were more important than
anything resembling realism; the full regalia of a thirties' American gangster film was transplanted
to 1930s Marseilles just for the fun of it all.
Borsalino & Co. is a far darker item utterly lacking in humor. It's also dry in the character
department. Delon's Siffredi spends the entire film plotting revenge, with a short detour into
a drunken stupor when his enemies force him to drink to ruin his reputation. The characters are
well drawn within genre lines, with loyal henchmen and venal enemies eliciting the right viewer
responses. At least they're nicely delineated to keep us from getting confused. The main enforcer
for the baddies is played by Rene Kolldehoff, a specialist in thuggish Nazis in films like
Soldier of Orange.
The show has no real romantic content. Siffredi's ever-loving girl is a prostitute named
Lola (Catherine Rouvel). She does little but smile when she's happy and look sad when things
aren't going well, and comes off mainly as arm candy. Horror star Anton Diffring
(Circus of Horrors) has a bit
part as a German agent in one brief scene.
Delon's main enemy is Riccardo Cucciola's Volpone, conceived as a right-wing fascist sympathizer
eager to overrun France with Hitlerian values. Cucciola acts well but is given hiss-worthy lines
like, "The laws are for the poor." The movie proposes the doubtful theory that honest criminal
gangsterism is the natural enemy of political gangsterism. Corruption is corruption, and we really
don't have any reason to root for Siffredi beyond the film's fashion endorsement.
Borsalino & Co. looks great, with dozens of lavishly detailed sets of bars, salons, theaters
and restaurants. All the crooks bad and good wear immaculate color-coded wool coats in the latest
styles. The cars are equally beautiful. The film follows post- Bonnie & Clyde 30's-chic
stylistics, even though its plot is mostly a string of violent setpieces.
The violence is plenty nasty, yet without strong characters to worry about, not all that impressive.
A comic is blown to bits in the middle of his stage act and a prostitute's eyes and face are burned
away with acid.
Machine gunnings and mass gundowns proliferate. All are grandly staged, and fans liking straight-up
gangster action will be amply rewarded for their attention. But the only real stunner is the
gruesome finale, a grimly sadistic murder one wouldn't wish on any but the worst villains of
history. It's an atrocity that can't help but destroy sympathy for Delon's hero.
Borsalino & Co. ends with a title looking forward to a third instalment, perhaps picking
up with Siffredi's adventures in America. I don't think it was ever made.
Kino's DVD of Borsalino & Co. is a dazzling disc, with a handsome enhanced transfer
showing off the film's lush production values, from the huge sets to Alain Delon's spotless
clothing. The audio is also top-quality, although we miss the jangly main theme from the
We get to hear snippets of that music on the trailer for Borsalino & Co.. It and nine other
Alain Delon films (presumably those personally produced by him?) are included as extras. The outside
of the packaging makes no mention but the disc and the menus imply that all nine may come out as
part of a Kino "The Alain Delon Collection." The most exciting title in the batch is the
Ventura epic The Sicilian Clan, a great picture with a superb score by Ennio Morricone. The
Borsalino & Co. disc has trailers for both the French and American versions. It's probably
asking too much, but I hope Kino does indeed have plans to bring these out.
A brief stills gallery is also included. Kino's multi-talented Bret Wood designed the packaging.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Borsalino & Co. rates:
Supplements: trailers, stills, Delon filmography
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: August 7, 2005
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2005 Glenn Erickson
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