Il bandito dagli occhi azzurri / Blue Eyed Bandit (1980)

Director: Alfredo Giannetti
Starring:  Franco Nero, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Carlos de Carvalho. Italy. 1h 36m

A somewhat whimsical crime thriller, Blue Eyed Bandit stars the iconic Franco Nero as Renzo Dominici,  mild mannered crippled and aged clerk who works for a bank, but little do his employers know what by night he transforms into a young, dynamic blue eyed criminal mastermind.

By day he shuffles around in a clever disguise, working long hours, visiting his mother in her nursing home and all the while secretly scoping out the office and waiting for the big pay day but as he ultimate heist get closer, Stella (Lazzaro); a loose member of the cafeteria staff starts to work out that there is much more to the old quiet clerk and she attempts to slide into the deal.

Despite being quite a intricate heist movie there’s a lot of comedy moments, especially when Stella appears trying to take off Renzo’s disguise in her bumbling bimbo version of Miss Marple, her screen presence just muddles a rather good story. Franco on the other hand gives a wonderfully committed performance, and  a seasoned actor he manages to pull away from the silliness and gets the job done, he plays the duo roles quite well, shuffling along as an elderly man one moment then transforming into a real life Pink Panther, and that’s not where the movie connections ends, at times it feels as if the entire world is blind and cannot see the connection between Renzo and the Bandit, the only difference is the colour of the eyes and the hairline quite like when Clark Kent takes of his specs.. *smh*

If Alfredo Giannetti,  had removed the comedy, and chucked in an equally mindful character to counteract the Bandit then this would have been a powerful and dangerous thriller, but it is what it is and while there’s some playfulness it’s still enjoyable to watch without getting too deep.

Once things start to hot up there’s  a huge shift in direction and it feels as if Franco has divided himself into a team of thieves as he transforms into the bandit, flashes his blue eyes and carries out an uncanny heist but Stella is hot on his heels, now his problem is how is he going to get away with his crime?

Strangely it does work and there’s lots to appreciate, especially as it doesn’t stick to any stereotypical template, the dynamics do deliver a few thrills but not a great amount to think about. The biggest let down was the light hand approach to violence in the heist, despite all the shooting there’s very little blood and violence, for my personal taste this could have been amphilifed but it’s a minor inconvenience and Franco makes up for this in the cult classic Hitch Hike (1977).

There’s a lot of “outdoing” when the film winds down to it’s ending, the Bandit Vs Bimbo Marple as each tries to grab the cash and out the other, but providing you’re okay with a light hearted slant on your crime thrillers and can handle the drama it’s a surprisingly great film.

Rating  7/10

R: Smiling Maniacs (1975), How to Kill a Judge (1975), Superman (1978)
L: A-Z of Italian Cinema, Italian Cinema – 1980’s,
5s: Franco Nero

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