Abraham Polonsky


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

, /10
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Figlio di emigrati russi ebrei, da giovane abbraccio' la causa marxista. Dopo aver lavorato per riviste e alla radio, scrisse le sceneggiature di tre film anti-capitalisti: Body And Soul di Rossen, Force of Evil e I Can't Get It For You Wholesale.

Force Of Evil (1948), adapted from Ira Wolfert's novel "Tucker's People", was a gangster-movie set in an urban hell roamed by ferocious monsters. Evil is not personified: the gangsters are mere ghosts that are never shown. Evil is the godless world of the financial district. The protagonist lives in a limbo between crime and honesty: he is a criminal when he pursues the "American dream", he is honest when he kills. The atmosphere of nightmare, fear, loneliness, angst, paranoia warps the cliches of the noir and gangster genres.

In the opening voice-over the protagonist, a lawyer, Joe (John Garfield), claims that he is about to make a million dollars, albeit illegally. He happens to be the lawyer of powerful mobster Ben. Ben has a plan to fix the outcome of the races so the most frequently played numbers will come out and ruin all the "banks" (numbers rackets), leaving Ben the monopoly of the business. The project is the brainchild of Joe himself, who steered Ben away from the old violent methods. But Joe has just realized that one of the people to be ruined will be his sick middle-aged brother Leo, who runs one such "banks". Ben specifically forbids Joe to tell his brother, lest the whole scheme collapses. Leo, an honest man, does not like Joe's shady career, and refuses to listen to Leo's proposition. The two brothers argue about how to make a living, and then Leo kicks Joe out. Leo gave up his studies to send Joe to school, so that Joe could become the lawyer that Leo wanted to be, and now Leo is ashamed of what his brother has done with that degree. Later Leo's secretary Doris, whom Leo always treated like a daughter, resigns. To prove his power to Leo, Joe turns him in to the police, who raid the "bank" and arrest everybody, including Doris who was leaving. Then Joe pays bail for all of them. Leo is not impressed but the event has convinced him to close down his "bank" and change business. He asks only one favor of Joe: that he help Doris find a good job. Joe drives Doris home and falls in love. The following day the lucky number comes out, Joe becomes rich and... Leo is ruined. Leo has to accept Ben's and Joe's terms and become part of their larger organization. When a honest bookkeeper tries to quit, is forced to stay by Joe's gangsters. In retaliation he calls the police and offers to become their informer, so they would raid all the "banks" all the time and eventually send them out of business. Meanwhile Ben's wife Edna keeps trying to seduce Joe, but he throws her out of his office. She tells him that his phone is tapped by the police, and Joe is worried about what they might have overheard. There is another raid, and there is a trial. Joe gets everybody released, but he senses that the situation is getting desperate, and decides to buy Leo's share of the business so Leo can get out before it's too late. And Ben tells Joe that Ben's old partner Ficco wants to challenge their organization. The frightened bookkeeper accepts to arrange a meeting between Leo and Ficco: Ficco's men kidnap Leo (who is having a heart attack) and kill the bookkeeper. Joe takes all the money he has, gets drunk and tries to convince Doris to leave with him. But then he learns about his brother's kidnapping and runs to Ben. Ben and Ficco just made a deal. Joe demands his brother. Ficco tells him that Leo is dead. Joe kills them both, then calls the police. Joe and Doris leave together. Schiacciato dal "maccartismo", tacque per vent'anni. Torno' con la sceneggiatura di Madigan (1968), per Siegel, e poi con Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), un western atipico dall'assunto civile, dove il ragazo indiano e' predestinato come un gangster dei film noir e gli abitanti della frontiera si comportano come i borghesi del maccartismo, che vedevano complotti contro la nazione ovunque. Willie Kid e' un giovane di colore, un indiano cow-boy della California. Ama una ragazza che padre e fratelli fanno di tutto per tenere lontana da lui. Redford e' lo sceriffo, invaghito della bella ma frigida agente della riserva indiana, dotta e sprezzante antropologa. Willie Kid e' un indiano evoluto, che pero' i bianchi si ostinano a considerare un essere inferiore. La agente e' solo apparentemente recalcitrante,; in realta' riceve tutte le notti lo sceriffo Redford.
A mezzanotte Willie e la sua ragazza si incontrano di nascosto e fanno l'amore., ma il vecchio li sorprende e l'indiano, per difendersi, lo ammazza e scappa con la ragazza. Lo sceriffo, istigato dalla superba amante, che vuole fare della ragazza una maestra, raccoglie un gruppo di volontari e lo insegue. Gli inseguitori sono tanti e sono a cavallo, gli inseguiti sono due e a piedi; le astuzie dell'indiano mettono pero' fuori strada il grosso dei bianchi, ma lo sceriffo non ci casca.
Ad un certo punto lo sceriffo li molla e Willie ha buon gioco ad appiedarli tutti con sei colpi ben centrati. Nel frattempo, nella vicina cittadina di Riverside, si prepara la parata in onore del presidente: guardia del corpo sara' proprio lo sceriffo, mentre la dottoressa si atteggia a gran dam anella speranza di parlare col presidente (ma la notte basta che lui si presenti in camera sua per farle venire l'orgasmo).
Mentre la manifestazione procede, arriva la notizia che Willie ha appiedato gli inseguitori. Si diffonde il panico; si parla di centinaia di indiani sul piede di guerra. Partono spedizioni armate da tutte le citta' dei dintorni; i giornalisti disertano il presidente e accorrono sul luogo.
Quando lo sceriffo gli arriva addosso, trova il cadavere della ragazza, vestita tutta di bianco: suicida o uccisa? Lo sceriffo giura di uccidere Willie Kid. e' diventata una partita a due: lo sceriffo a cavallo insegue Willie a piedi nel deserto. Lo raggiunge; duello fra le rocce, lo fronteggia; Willie fa per sparare e lo sceriffo allora lo ammazza: ma il fucile di willie era scarico, si e' praticamente suicidato. Lo sceriffo se lo carica in spalla e lo consegna alla sua dama. Gli indiani bruciano il cadavere.

Romance Of A Horse Thief (1971) narra l'alleanza fra ladri e prostitute contro i cosacchi per rubare loro cavalli; commedia a morale anarchica.

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