Sun 16 Apr 2017
FISTFUL OF DIAMONDS. Balcázar Producciones Cinematográficas, Spain-Italy, 1967. Original title (Spanish): El hombre del puño de oro, Also released as L’umo dal pugno d’oro (Italian). Germán Cobos, Erika Blanc, Frank Russell, Tomás Torres, Screenplay: Mario Colluci as Ray Colloway. Director: Jaime Jesús Balcázar.
In 1967 the Eurospy craze was already running a bit thin, and this film with Eurospy star Germán Cobos (often playing Danny O’Connor aka Agent Z-55 in his spy outings) was designed to open up a new venue, the hard boiled American private eye. It did not, but for what it is, this is well worth your time.
Cobos is New York private eye Joe Galligan, a hard-drinking, hard-hitting, and hard-punching example of the breed with a soft heart for his pre-teen black neighborhood girl/secretary and kids in general. We meet him as he is about to be hired by beautiful Linda Moore (Erika Blanc) whose sister was killed the by gangster Norman Krasner (Frank Russell), who double-crossed her and his other partners and ambushed them at a buy in where the price was a suitcase full of diamonds. Erika wants revenge and the ice.
Galligan (not Callahan as one review on IMDb has it, and Clark in the English language version for no real reason) accompanies Linda to the house where the exchange was supposed to be made and is waylaid by two of Krasner’s thugs. They take the girl and leave him unconscious.
Determined to get the girl back, Galligan finds the cops won’t talk about the well-connected Krasner, and neither will the usual informers, but he discovers Krasner is in Istanbul and heads that way.
In Istanbul Galligan ties up with Joy Boy (Tomás Toros) his old friend, a Texas-born Hispanic who owns a club, and together they set out to recover the girl and the diamonds, and shut down Krasner.
Despite some eighteen-wheeler worthy plot holes and a title song that may keep you from watching the film (the score is great otherwise), this is good private eye stuff, with Cobos a likable and not too superhuman sleuth, Blanc beautiful and smart, and Russell a fine villain wielding a South African sjambok to make his point.
The Turkish scenery is handsomely filmed, there are some first-rate fight scenes including a comic one in Joy Boy’s club, and a deadly serious one in a boatyard at night. The ending is a humdinger with a spectacular setting even if it is a bit contrived, and a surprisingly, but satisfyingly brutal, somber final note.
Find it with subtitles if you can; the dubbing on the English language version is terrible. Thanks to YouTube, the complete Italian version is below, at least for now: