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No Shame Films presents
Gambling City (1974)

Luca Altieri: My name's Luca, and you?
Maria Louisa: Maria Louisa, but everyone calls me Meme.
Luca: Then you'll be Maria Louisa just for me.

- Luc Merenda, Dayle Haddon

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: August 05, 2005

Stars: Luc Merenda, Dayle Haddon, Corrado Pani
Other Stars: Enrico Maria Salerno, Giovanni Iavarone, Lino Troisi, Salvatore Puntillo, Carlo Alighiero, Piero Palermini, Carlo Gaddi
Director: Sergio Martino

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, nudity, sexuality, language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:33s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 882853001898
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Gambling City (La Città gioca d'azzardo) is your quintessential 1970s B movie, the kind of thing that gives Tarantino goosebumps. A young hotshot gambler named Luca Altieri (Luc Merenda) arrives at an underground poker game in Milan and cleans house. He's a cheat, but Luca's talent with a deck of cards lands him a job with the mysterious crime lord, who is known only as "the President" (Enrico Maria Salerno). Life is grand for Luca, but—wouldn't you know it?—a life with the mob puts one in a lot of danger.

The danger here, of course, materializes in the form of a beautiful woman, Maria Louisa (Dayle Haddon). She's the "girlfriend" of the President's hyper-violent son, Corrado (Corrado Pani). I would think that a low-level gambler would have enough common sense to steer clear of his employer's mistress, but that really wouldn't make for much of a movie. The handsome Luca sweeps Maria Louisa off her feet and onto her back for a night of passion, filled with the cheesy sex music and well-lit love scenes that only exist in the world of movies. Sure, it totally interrupts the flow of the story, but when two extremely attractive individuals engage in intimate relations, its bound to grab your attention.

The plot works like a machine, with Corrado discovering Maria Louisa's infidelity and seeking revenge on Luca. There's a coup within the crime syndicate, people get whacked, and it all comes to a head with a smashing car chase through the streets of Paris. Some of the material is distasteful, such as a rape scene that contains porno-esque music. Yet the overall tone achieved by director Sergio Martino tends to make for a nice piece of trashy entertainment. He clearly knows how to direct the action sequences and inserts enough scenes of character development to make the audience care for the two leads (it doesn't hurt, by the way, to cast two very attractive people in the roles, either).

The acting is suitable, particularly by Luc Merenda. His playboy demeanor is likable and his suave, muscleman persona reasonable. Dayle Haddon is also fine in her role, though she really doesn't have to do much more than look the part of a beautiful woman. Some of the supporting characters come across as a bit cartoonish, but so does the whole story.

I can't pretend to think that Gambling City is a particularly good movie, but it works as entertainment. The filmmaking has flashes of inspiration, especially in the card game sequences, but is mostly a matter of procedure. Martino's tale is handled like a marked deck, meaning we all know how things will turn out in the end, but there's always that one wild card looming somewhere. Maybe that's a good thing.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer shows the age of the film, but still is a pleasant image. Blacks come across nicely, with solid contrast and strong colors. It's nothing special, but gives a nice ambience to a 1970s B movie.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Italianyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Italian mono track is clean, with a well-balanced mix being spread across the front sound stage. There's nothing fancy here, but it gets the job done. A dubbed English track is also available for those who are interested.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Luc Merenda, Riccardo Trombetta
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:16m:44s

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert&8212contains essays written by Richard Harland Smith and Matthew Weisman.
  2. Poster Gallery—slideshow of various posters and lobby cards.
Extras Review: The extras start off with an insert containing two essays by Richard Harland Smith and a third by Matthew Weisman. Smith's writings, one a review of the movie and the other an essay about Luc Merenda (with a selected filmography), are shallow and uninteresting. Matthew Weisman's essay about director Sergio Martino is the same. Following that is an audio commentary by Luc Merenda and Italian film critic Riccardo Trombetta. The two seem to enjoy doing the commentary, but neither is particularly good at it (at one point, Merenda's cell phone rings and he answers it while recording). Still, Merenda gives some interesting anecdotes.

Next is Cheating with the Cheaters (34m:15s), a documentary containing interviews with director Sergio Martino, cinematographer Giancarlo Ferranda, and Merenda. The three men go off the subject quite frequently, but Ferranda offers up some fresh insights about how to shoot a movie. There's also a lot of talk about the Italian genre films of the 1970s. It's a good documentary, with English subtitles for those of us who don't speak Italian.

Additionally, the film's theatrical trailer is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen in both English and Italian (with optional subtitles). Things are rounded off with a poster gallery, which is a slideshow of poster art and lobby cards set to the film's main musical theme.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Gambling City (La Città gioca d'azzardo) is entertaining and this DVD is a nice introduction for those who have not seen it. The image and audio transfers are good, with some nice extras rounding out the package.


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