The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - THE CLIMBER (1975) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - THE CLIMBER (1975)

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An American hoodlum builds a feared mob in Rome.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Pasquale Squitieri

Starring: Joe Dallesandro, Stefania Casini, Benito Artesi, Ferdinando Murolo, Raymond Pellegrin

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A protege of Andy Warhol, cult American model turned actor Joe Dallesandro might be best known for his roles in Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula, but the star worked heavily in Europe for respected arthouse filmmakers like Louis Malle and Walerian Borowczyk, while also filming his share of Euro exploitation flicks. It's from the latter lot that we get this Arrow Video 4K restoration of director Pasquale Squitieri's 1975 mob thriller The Climber.

the climber

Dallesandro plays Aldo, a low-rent American hood eking out a living as a collector for the mob in Naples. After helping himself to a share of the takings he receives a bad beating and is ordered never to set foot in the city again. Hooking up in Rome with the pretty Luciana (Suspiria star Stefania Casini reteaming with Dallesandro following the previous year's Blood for Dracula), Aldo forms his own mob and sets about taking over Rome, with revenge on his former employers never leaving his mind.

the climber

Squitieri's film is essentially a 1930s Warner Bros gangster flick updated with lashings of '70s sex and violence, and if you've seen any mob epic you won't find many surprises here. Dallesandro has a degree of sullen charisma, but it's nowhere near enough to paper over how unappealing his protagonist is here. While Edward G Robinson and James Cagney, and later Al Pacino, could play irredeemable scumbags and keep us hooked by their sheer force of personality, Dallesandro simply lacks the presence, and his character is a shell of a man, a Kinder Surprise egg that someone at the factory forgot to pack with a toy. Aldo's thinly disguised homophobia and misogyny doesn't help make him any more palatable.

the climber

The thing about Italian exploitation however is that even the mediocre films have their standout moments, and though Squitieri's direction often feels lazy, rushed and amateurish (likely a symptom of shooting on the fly without the required permits), with some scenes so badly lit you'll need to squint to see the actors, on occasion his cinematographer Eugenio Bentivoglio presents us with surprisingly arresting compositions that pop in this quality transfer. The energy lacking from Squitieri's direction is at times compensated for by a rousing score from Franco Campanino, whose tracks seem inspired by everyone from Dusty Springfield to Black Sabbath. Delving into the haphazard world of Italian exploitation is often like bobbing for apples; if you don't mind getting your shirt soaked you just might find something to sink your teeth into.

A new interview with Dallesandro; options to watch in Italian or English dubs; and the customary Arrow Video reversible sleeve and booklet.

The Climber is available from Arrow Video on dual format blu-ray/DVD now.