VenueWalter Reade Theater
New digital restoration with new English subtitles! Not on DVD!
It’s one of the ironies of Sautet’s career that, before making the très français relationship dramas that cemented his international reputation, he started out as a specialist of très americain genre movies as sleek and well-crafted as anything Hollywood turned out during the same period. For The Dictator’s Guns, Sautet re-teamed with his The Big Risk (Classe tous risques) star Lino Ventura for a taut tale of high seas intrigue, with Ventura as an expat skipper lying low in the Dominican Republic who becomes ensnared (with some help from seductive American heiress Sylva Koscina) in a plot to transport a boatload of illegal weapons to South America. Excitingly shot on Andalusian locales doubling for the DR, with an international cast speaking a free-flowing mixture of English, French and Spanish (four decades before Inglourious Basterds), the film runs thick with savory B-movie atmosphere, much of it courtesy of Riot in Cell Block 11 heavy Leo Gordon (in real life, a former San Quentin inmate) as the mercenary-for-hire who lures Ventura into his trap. A flop on its initial release, amidst the headline-grabbing innovation of the French New Wave, The Dictator’s Guns qualifies as a major rediscovery, presented here in a new digital restoration with new English subtitles by the incomparable Lenny Borger.