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A Double Dose of Milian: Criminal Twins Bonding

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoiler free)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

La banda del gobbo (1978) - IMDb

La Banda del Gobbo (Gang of the Hunchback/Brothers Till We Die) (1978) R ****

Tomas Milian: Vincenzo “Il Gobbo” Marazzi/Sergio “Er Monezza” Marazzi

Pino Colizzi: Il Commissario Sarli

Mario Piave: Il Commissario Valenzi

Isa Danielli: Maria, i Donna nel Gobbo

Luciano Catenacci: Perrone

Guido Leontini: Mario “Er Sogliola” Di Gennaro

Nello Pazzafini: Carmine Ciacci

Pierangelo Civera: Romeo Esposito

Salvatore Borghese: Milo “Albanese” Dragovic (as Sal Borghese)

Solvi Stubing: Marika Engver

Written & Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: After some time abroad, notorious criminal Il Gobbo returns to Rome for one last heist before calling it quits. Along the way he reconnects with his identical twin brother Er Monezza, a crook turned auto mechanic. When Gobbo is betrayed by his crew, the brothers form an unusual alliance to get revenge and not cause much havoc. 1973 Porsche 911 in "La banda del gobbo, 1978"

By the very late 1970’s the Euro Crime genre wave was pretty much at an end, but Umberto Lenzi, a high stalwart of the genre, decided if the genre was coming to end, he would have it go out with his own brand of a grand finale. Liking both his creation of Il Gobbo from his original treatment of Roma Amano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth) and Tomas Milian’s grand performance in the film, he decided to bring the character back for another go around. Since the first film gave the indication the character was dead, Lenzi gave this Il Gobbo a different last name and an entirely new personality. Instead of the homicidal psychopath of the original, this Il Gobo was a tough guy who played upon the mindset of his targets without ever having to physically attack them, making him something of an Anti-Hero and even somewhat likable. Making him the look alike twin brother to another popular character, Er Monezza (an Italian slang term for trash), Lenzi created a duo who were radically different from each other, but at the same time seemed to know each other in a way only twins can.

La banda del gobbo (1978)

La banda del gobbo (1978)

Tomas Milian, in one of his last Euro Crime films before committing full time to the adventures of special squad cop Nico Giraldi, gives his usual spot on style of talent as both Il Gobbo and Er Monezza. That Milian was able to balance two completely separate personas at almost the same time is another compliment to Milian’s dedication to and love of the craft of acting. Il Gobbo is a small time crook with a very big reputation thanks in part to his wisecracking antics and to the genetic abnormality he’s had since birth that easily separates him from the crowd. Unlike most criminals, Gobbo tries to avoid harming innocent civilians as much as he can, only going after cops and the upper crust of society. That he’s sympathetic to the working class, mostly from watching his younger twin brother work the daily grind in an auto lot, makes Il Gobbo unique in that he’s not completely without some essence of scruples. He’s also shown as very honor bound when it comes to the code of criminality, especially when it comes to handshake agreements. When he’s betrayed by three of his old friends during a fool proof armored car, Il Gobbo launches a special type of revenge that only affects the targets.

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As Er Monezza, Milian delivers the polar opposite of Il Gobbo. Monezza in his own way is a simple man, only needing the basic necessities of life. A penny-ante hoodlum who finally decided to go straight, Monezza still engages in some of the methods he gleamed while still on the hustle, some of which do help him out when dealing with his obnoxious boss and the police detective dogging both him and his brother. Monezza is shown as very dedicated and very loving to his more criminal minded brother, always in his own subtle way trying to steer him in the right path, though his efforts are constantly thwarted. Despite his seemingly failed efforts, his brother does respect and admire him (and even loves him a little), primarily because he’s doing everything on his own with no help. While trying to help his brother leads to trouble for Monezza, he has little regrets as he knows his brother’s heart, even if it can be a little black, and knows his brother would hate himself should anything bad happen to him.

La banda del gobbo – Pianeta Cinema

Milian is supported in his role by a slew of venerable Italian character actors including Pino Colizzi, Nello Pazzafini, Guido Leontini, Luciano Catenacci, Salvatore Borghese, Isa Danielli, and Solvi Stubing, the majority of them playing characters that are either trying to help Il Gobbo in his schemes, or are trying to thwart and/or betray him. Leontini, Catenacci, and Borghese give pretty spot on performances and the three men who initially team with Gobbo, only to betray him and become the objects of his revenge.

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While primarily an entertainment film, Lenzi does interject some his political beliefs into the character of Il Gobbo. Gobbo has a disdain for those in high society who look down the lower classes, and himself in particular because of his abnormality, and wishes to give such people what he feels are their just comeuppance. Even with his anger at being the object of certain people’s scorn at his physical appearance. Gobbo has no intention of killing them, only to humiliate them in a fairly ingenious fashion. While Lenzi hadn’t had the intention of making Gobbo a sympathetic revolutionary whose life was based on his social circumstances, something about that scene resonated with the youth of the era, and made his own impact.

La banda del gobbo – Pianeta Cinema

More of a revenge story than the typical outing in the Euro-Crime world, the film still offers the action and characters fans had come to love and expect from the genre that keep things solid and interesting. While not as intense or high octane as its predecessors, Banda del Gobbo is still an entertaining slice of Euro-Crime goodness that fans new and old should check out.

(This is another film I highly recommend checking out as it’s just pure entertainment and exciting. Tomas Milian offers one of his finest performances as the Marazzi brothers, keeping both radically different personalities finely balanced at all times. Stalwart fans might be disappointed the film lacks the violence the genre was normally known for, but that doesn’t make the film any less exciting as the cat and mouse game is still played among the cop and gangster characters. The film has two Blu Ray releases, a mediabook from X-Rated Films in Germany [which I think may now be out of print] and one last year from 88 Films in the UK. The UK Blu Ray is readily available and offers a solid visual transfer and audio transfer with translated English subtitles for the Italian audio. The UK release is all region so fans from anywhere in the world can import the Blu Ray with no worries at all if it will play.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

buying option

Brothers Till We Die – The Italian Collection 57


Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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