World Premiere - May 24, 1974 - Syracuse, NY
“Hard to Say Which Fad ‘Italian Graffiti’ Exploits”
by Doc Halliday
Cedar Rapids Gazette
June 15, 1974, p.6
It is difficult to say just which American fad “Italian Graffiti” is trying to exploit. There is the title, of course. But on top of that is a wealth of 1920s paraphernalia reminiscent of “The Great Gatsby,” an underworld godfather who resembles Marlon Brando, and the sort of slapstick fistfights which have made the “Trinity” pictures so popular. Unfortunately, it has very little else to offer.
The movie begins as Salvatore Mandolea arrives in Chicago – a poor boy from Sicily who is determined to make good. Naturally, he joins the local underworld mob led by Bugs Morano. (Obviously, this is the sort of gangster film that Italian-American civil liberties groups find so terribly delightful.)
The Morano gang is locked in a mortal struggle with “the Holy Terror,” a rival gangster who uses a Salvation Army soup kitchen as a front.
There follow the standard bootleg whiskey heists and speakeasy busts. Morano’s henchmen come out on the short end of these encounters largely because they refuse to listen to Salvatore. Frustrated, he goes over to “the Holy Terror’s” side and kidnaps Morano’s beloved daughter. He then betrays “the Holy Terror” by offering to sell the daughter back to Morano.
This enrages both gangs and presently every gangster in Chicago is looking for Salvatore.
All this would be reasonably entertaining were it not for the bewildering meanderings of plot which mark these Italian comic shoot-em-ups.
In addition, the only consideration give to the dialog is that it matches the lip movements of the cast.
Attempts at farce amount to little more than sophomoric puns, dopey sight gags and trick camera shots.
A director the likes of Richard Lester can get away with this sort of thing. The makers of “Italian Graffiti” apparently cannot.