Director Sergio Martino
Producer Luciano Martino
Screenplay Ernesto Gastaldi
Story Ernesto Gastaldi
Stars: Luc Merenda, Dayle Haddon, Corrado Pani, Enrico Maria Salerno
Music by Luciano Michelini
Cinematography Giancarlo Ferrando
Editor Euginio alabiso
Runtime 101 min
Genre Action, Crime, Drama
Luc Merenda Luca Altieri
Dayle haddon Maria Luisa
Corrado Pani Corrado
Enrico Maria Salerno The “President”
Franco Javarone Lisander
Bruno Arie Hitman
Luc Merenda (Luca Altieri) is a young and masterful poker player and cardsharp. He uses his skill to cheat rich card players out of their money since playing fair does not pay well. The President (Enrico Maria Salerno) spots his talent through the monitors and he decides to employ Merenda.
However, this time Merenda would be swindling money out of the wealthy “President’s” customers for a better pay. As his popularity and wealth increases, he decides to court Dayle haddon (Maria Luisa), the girlfriend to the President’s son. The lady decides to split up with her current greedy, hot tempered boyfriend, Corrado. The battle for power and the lady’s affection becomes more intense between the two gentlemen.
Corrado hires goons that mercilessly beat Merenda up. The President later decides to relieve Merenda his duty. His son does not stop his violent acts prompting the President to reconsider what he had done to Merenda. He ends up giving Merenda and Dayle a huge amount of money, asking him to quit gambling to start a new life in another town.
Corrado retaliates by attempting to overthrow his father, but his attempts prove futile due to his lack of access to power and money. Corrado threatens to fetch and kill Merrenda.
Merrenda finds himself in the call of duty again to make one final win. This does not go well with Dayle as she has sacrificed a lot for them to have a new life.
Director Sergio Martino’s superb “Gambling city” film is just easy on the eye. The pure action scenes, the vicious and determined characters, a great plot, and Luciano Michelini’s eccentric soundtrack sums up to the Italian classic. The film exceeds many of the Hollywood classics in terms of entertainment and values.
The amazing cinematography skill of Giancarlo Ferrando is brilliantly portrayed by his choice of bold compositions that turn the simple locations into striking visuals. The camera work is outstanding and angles great, allowing a perfect display of each and every turn of event. This makes the film clearer even on relatively small screens. The use of bold, vibrant colors and shapes makes the experience surreal.
The backdrop is clear and lively, blended by a day and night effect typical of many Italian classics. The strange and unique choice of the backdrop clearly illustrates a unique innovation but still maintaining the relevance of the genre. The great combination of both the director and the cinematographer is second to none.
The plot is precise and interesting. Although the film is more about the poker game, the director does not shun away from Italian crime. He shows how a talented cardsharp can attain the “president’s” recognition. He rises to fame and wealth, but he is forced to make a decision that changes the whole picture.
The tension and rivalry between Merenda and Carrado highlights the theme of love and the limits that people can hit. The President is revealed as an impartial man. He favors a stranger since he does not like his son’s evil approach.
The storyline becomes captivating and lively due to the perfect choice of cast. Luc Merenda is a charming thug with a unique talent. He assumes the challenge yet he knows he will be facing a bigger challenge. Merenda even gets his boss’ son mistress. However, his use of brains rather than muscle proves successful later on.
Carrado almost steals the show with his vicious direct approach. He tackles Merenda head on to a point of almost killing him. He even goes beyond limits by trying to overthrow his father’s regime. Carrado later ends up the villain as nothing comes to him.
Dayle haddon is such a beauty worth of getting Merenda in a life threatening scandal. She is wise enough to depart from his hot tempered boyfriend.
Backing the picture quality is both the original Italian track along with the dubbed English track. The subtitles are tight and perfectly timed allowing the ease of reading. They are directly translated in a clear and correct way.
However, the producer seems to combine many acts of violence in the film. This does not show the real mastery of the poker game by Merenda. He emphasizes more on the war and romantic side of him.
All in all, I really enjoyed this version of Italian crime. For anyone who would want to enjoy a different taste from the usual Hollywood setting, Gambling City is simply your choice. A low budget film, but high quality is enough to get a fair 6.6/10.