[Junesploitation ’21] Mini Reviews: Code Of Silence (1985) and Django (1966)

Mini Review
Day 03: Henry Silva!
Code Of Silence (1985)

Day 3’s prompt is ‘Henry Silva’ and there are many films that could fit the mould in regards to Henry Silva, however the opportunity to see the man as the villain up against Chuck Norris was too good to pass up. Code Of Silence (1985) was directed by Andrew Davis, the man who brought us The Fugitive (1993) and Under Siege (1992) two iconic and great action/thriller films of the early 90s, and his start in the 80s with this film belongs by their side as it is a great ride.

The film takes place in Chicago where police officer Eddie Cusack (Chuck Norris) gets caught up in a vicious gang war, getting no help from his fellow cops because he stands up for the truth after shunning fellow cop Cragie (Ralph Foody) after he shoots an innocent kid. With the help of rookie Nick Kopalas (Joe Guzaldo), Cusack finds out more about this brewing war between Luis Comacho (Henry Silva) and Tony Luna (Mike Genovese) and does whatever he can to protect the innocent daughter of Tony Luna, Diana (Molly Hagan) who gets caught up in the mess.

Code Of Silence is a great film, perhaps one of the best performances Chuck Norris has given as Eddie Cusack, he’s the quiet brooding tough good guy cop, without a sense of massive ego and quite grounded. Norris is playing a character, not a version of himself and when he does take this approach it works extremely well, especially with a film that rightfully takes itself seriously given the subject matter. He carries the film like a strong leading man, with a great supporting cast who are all mostly very impressive. Henry Silva’s role is smaller but Luis Comacho makes for a sinister gang leader and foe for Cusack, whenever he is on screen he brings in such charisma and makes a lasting impression. Ralph Foody as the veteran cop who doesn’t play by the rules is also memorable, as is Dennis Farina as Dorato, Cusack’s injured partner who makes full use of his screen time. Joe Guzaldo and Molly Hagan round out the cast as the younger characters and both bring a lot of strong emotion.

The story handles some serious subjects matters with a gang war, shootings, violence, corrupt cops ect and it handles them very well, it gives its themes the time and energy they deserve, while not sugar coating the reality of these things as it does happen in real life. While some set pieces may be slightly over the top (the train scene is incredible) it doesn’t take away anything from the film, and the dabbles of humor are quite welcome as a breather. A top notch film from the 80s, Code Of Silence has a bit of everything and is a must see for those who enjoy cop action/drama/thrillers with one of the best performances of Norris’ career.

Rating:

Mini Review
Day 04: Westerns!
Django (1966)

For Day 4 the prompt was personally an exciting one to dive into with ‘Westerns!’ as it is a genre of film that over the years I have become quite fond of, and I wanted to use this opportunity to see a western that has long been on my watch list but haven’t gotten around to seeing until now with the spaghetti western classic Django (1966). Italian cinema of the time is quite incredible with their version of the western as well as the emerging giallo films, with Italian filmmakers adding their own unique takes on the genres. Django is a masterful film, from the first frame to the last, with a character as memorable as anything from Clint Eastwood’s western roles.

Django begins with the title character (Franco Nero) a lone man dragging a coffin as he wonders through the vast landscape, where he sees a prostitute Maria (Loredana Nusciak) being tortured and he rescues her. Stopping in a deserted town at the saloon, he soon becomes mixed up in a rivalry between racist southerners led by General Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) and Mexican revolutionaries led by Gen. Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo). The blue eyed wondering lone wolf has his own agenda however, and will stop at nothing to get his personal vengeance against the man who killed his true love with the help of Maria.

After just this one viewing, Django may very well be one of my all time favourite westerns, it plays the with usual tropes, the lone silent out of towner, a band of villains and gun fights ect but adds its own flavour to the mix. The film is brightly coloured, from the costumes to the sets, there is so much colour to behold, even with the stench of mud and dirt in this small town where most of the action takes place. The pacing is excellent, the reveals are well timed and when its revealed what is in the coffin, it is a stand up and applaud moment. Director Sergio Corbucci was a master of his craft, it really shows here just how talented he was behind the camera and having Ruggero Deodato (director of Cannibal Holocaust) as Assistant Director was quite a delightful surprise and very apparent the crew on the film took care with this one.

The film belongs to its star Franco Nero as Django, and he is fantastic in the role, the role that really made him a star. From those deep blue glaring eyes, to emoting everything he needed to without speaking, Django as a character has this deep staying power and surely belongs to be up there with those of Eastwood as heroes of the genre. Personally I would love to watch the film in its original Italian language, as I am a purist who prefers to hear the language and read the subtitles as dubbing I feel takes so much away from the film. At least here on some level the dubbing added to the experience of Junesploitation, with some over the top line readings that worked in making it a fun viewing. Western fans, see Django if you haven’t, it is an incredible piece of spaghetti western history and you’ll be singing the theme song for days.

Rating:

Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!

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