THE FAMILY (1970) Overseas Charles Bronson espionage clusterfuck.

thefamily_ustheatricalTheme Song:

As with most European films of the 70s, this movie has an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. It was released as an LP under the italian title Citta Violenta if you feel like digging it up.

Interesting Dated References: Referring to a specific cocktail as “the latest thing.”

Best Line: Charles Bronson’s icy stare.

Social Context: Don’t marry a woman, they will stab you in the back. Don’t be a really good assassin because everyone will be pressuring you to never retire. Don’t be Charles Bronson or you will be outcast to mediocre European espionage movies for much of the 70s.

Summary: Any movie that opens up with Charles Bronson in a tight ass Speedo is going to get my attention. Add a weird duotone limbo montage through an assassin’s rifle, and I’m downright confused. And then the movie jumps right into a car chase. A single line of dialogue hasn’t even been spoken yet. The Family, one of approximately 1,000 spanish-made espionage-like movies Bronson starred in, seems to be off to the typical start.

After the shoot-out following the car chase, Bronson winds up in jail still not saying much except he had acted in self defense. Acting the tough guy in jail, Bronson lets a tarantula crawl over his arm, then, without explanation, he is released wearing all white denim. When he finally arrives back in the states the clues start to filter in. Bronson’s character is a professional assassin, but his girlfriend set him up to be killed. The killers failed and now he is on a revenge mission to kill all the people who wronged him. This includes an impromptu trip to Michigan to assassinate a guy. After a 30-minute sequence in which he sets up his sniper rifle, he kills the guy then rapes/attacks his girlfriend, again without explanation. Eventually he learns he is being pressured to join Telly Savalas’ gang. When he meets Telly to discuss, he discovers Telly has married his former girlfriend while he was “away at prison.” I’d like to reiterate the prison scene was 30 seconds long.

So somehow Bronson manhandles the shit out of his ex girlfriend, tries to scam Savalas out of money, kidnaps his old girlfriend, and manhandles her again in the forest. Then she convinces him to shoot Savalas and we get the big reveal that she is working with another guy to frame both Bronson and Savalas. I can’t believe how fucking long this movie is. Look, it’s not that it’s terrible or anything, the story just fails to engage. Eventually, after the wife/old girlfriend and her new lover/husband take over Savalas’ corporation and believe Bronson to be dead, the best scene of the movie happens. While riding up an exterior elevator, Bronson assassinates them both in a totally fucking awesome scene with no audio except the muted sound of the glass breaking. Then Bronson is killed by cops. Really well done ending, but the story was just a bit too bland. That shit was way long.

Poster and Box Art The main theatrical poster (above) for this movie features some of that ever popular “repeated image” technique that was very hip at the time. At some point I’m going to have to investigate who started that, but not right now. The whole layout of this poster is fairly experimental, but still holds it together so you know what you’re getting into. The film was also released as Violent City:


Just judging by the much more prominently featured Telly Savalas, I’m betting this was for a mid-70s re-release of the film after Kojak had gained some steam. Since this is a foreign-produced Bronson film, it was released everywhere else as Citta Violenta, resulting in some great art:


Including this version, which I think is Middle Eastern. I could only find this cropped version, but it looks like a well-illustrated version featuring many key scenes that look way more interesting than in the movie.


Another great German version. Fucking fabulous Bronson face. I bet the artists were really excited when they got to paint Bronson’s weathered mug. It would be like drawing an old piece of ham or rawhide and putting a mustache on it.


And just to show you what a power Bronson was overseas, this Italian version just features his face. Just really big face and maybe a gun. Awesome.

Availability: It is available on DVD as Violent City. According to reviews it is a slightly restored version with some extras even!

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