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December 12, 2012

Movie Review: Super Bitch (1973, aka Mafia Junction, Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff?)

Directed by Massimo Dallamano
Movie review by Greg Goodsell

Christmas comes early with this legit release of this highly enjoyable Italian crime thriller from the director of What Have You Done with Solange? Perpetual Eurotrash tough guy Ivan Rassimov n plays Cliff Hoyst, an ostensible U.S. drug agent. His girlfriend, Joann (Stephanie Beacham of TV’s “The Colbys” and “Dynasty”) works at an exclusive British “escort service” where wealthy clients are filmed in compromising positions who are later blackmailed into smuggling drugs. There are the expected complications, romantic and otherwise, and Inspector Cliff must face off against rival drug smuggler Mama the Turk (elderly British character actress Patricia Hayes) for the life of Beacham.

Super Bitch, a United Kingdom and Italian co-production is quite a wild ride! An unauthorized bootleg in grainy, washed-out colors was making the rounds earlier this year, but Arrow Video in the U.K. has come to the rescue with a breathtakingly beautiful print. Cinematographer Jack (The Bridge on the River Kwai) Hildeyard contributes bold, colorful photography for a variety of world locations. The film begins in Lebanon, switches to London for Beacham’s scenes and finds time for side trip to New York City. People will find a lot to groove on, as the fashion and décor is strictly of the Austin Powers’s school, full of eye-popping op art and modern, expressionistic furniture. Morrel (Ettore Manni), the head of the escort agency has a swingin’ office, complete with a perpetual light show projected on a screen.

Known under countless titles, the film’s original Italian title, Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff?, which translates in English to “Could Anyone Be Possibly more of a Bastard than Inspector Cliff?” It was also shortened to Mafia Junction, and finally Super Bitch. It’s hard to say who plays the titular role. While the frequently naked Beacham (insuring that this film has a certain cult cache), in her role cavalier, money-grubbing prostitute would certainly fit the title, this reviewer is betting that the Super Bitch here is played by Hayes, a delightful harridan who makes Ma Barker seem like Martha Stewart in comparison. Hayes chews the scenery must adeptly with her family of shaggy gangster sons. Berating her guitar-strumming offspring Bunco (Tutte Lemkow) for smoking marijuana, her clan happily runs over and kills a male hustler in their convertible while singing folk songs in the very next scene! Hayes and her family are lots of fun to watch – it’s as if her gloriously dysfunctional brood has taken a page from the John Waters playbook.
As if this wasn’t good enough in and of itself, the legendary Riz Ortolani contributes a wild and happening soundtrack musical score.

Arrow Film’s DVD release runs 94 minutes. Available audio tracks are the English dub or the Italian language dub, with translated English subtitles. The DVD extras include “Bullets, Babes and Blood,” a short documentary on Italian crime movies and a brief interview with infamous director Ruggero Deodato on his fond memories of working with actor friend Rassimov, who he directed in Last Cannibal World in 1977. Rassimov, who died at the age of 64 in 2003, would carve out a unique niche in European exploitation cinema, the go-to guy for producers casting Clint Eastwood parts. All in all, Christmas is a good time as any to say hello to this mama!  

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