(1976, US, 104 mins) Dir Jack Blackstaff. Cast Ernest Borgnine, Ursula Andress, Bernie Mayes.
Death Wish wannabe from opportunistic Irish director Blackstaff misguidedly attempting to reposition Ernest Borgnine as an action man – not that he was entirely unsuccessful as sequels Anvil Strikes Again and Anvil in Africa will attest. It’s the usual guff as expertly parodied by the likes of Mr Kill Man – Borgnine is Dr James Anvil, wealthy surgeon, whose wife (Andress) and daughter are raped and killed (in that order) by a group of merciless street toughs when they take a wrong turn on their way home from the ballet and in whose name he vows vengeance. It would be refreshing – if you’ll excuse the tangent – to witness a film in which the lead’s conversion to vigilantism was perhaps triggered by his sense of social injustice rather than by sexualised violence being meted out to the women in his life. The reproduction of this unfortunate trope, along with the equation of class and colour with relative goodness or lack thereof, taints what would otherwise be a well executed, kinetic bloodbath albeit one that would still be plagued by characters so insubstantial that Anvil’s .45 seems unneccessary in dispatching them – he could have blown them away with nothing more than a hairdryer and an especially long extension cord should he have wished.