Gentlemen of the Night (1964)

Pino Mercanti’s Gentlemen of the Night takes all that you love about the Renaissance-era talkathons (guys in hose, chicks in low cut dresses) and livens it up with dudes in masks and hoods who have secret society meetings to discuss setting up another secret society.

In their defense, the bad guys are doing all this discussing and planning to counter the threat posed by bored nobles who are discussing and planning a revolution to free the Republic of Venice from the goofy-looking, sour-faced simp in charge!

It all comes to a head the only way it could – with the dramatic chopping down of a bridge that spanned all the way across ten feet of downtown canal! The horror of guys falling a foot or two into the canal is almost unspeakable! I mean, can you imagine how cold that water must have been before they could pull themselves out?

Massimo (Guy Madison looking more blonde than any hosed hunk has a right to) has just returned from kicking the ass of the Turks in some war or other. His old dark haired girlfriend (Elana) has gone and married the evil ruler (the Doge) of Venice. This understandably causes Massimo some consternation, but like most of us good-looking guys, he eases his pain with regular doses of an even better looking blonde chick named Katrina.

Some of Massimo’s old friends have grown dissatisfied with the Doge and there is talk of revolution in the air! Despite Massimo intervening against the government soldiers to save a friend getting attacked, Massimo is still a soldier himself and does not desire to get involved in any further insurrectionist shenanigans. After all, there is still an archery competition he needs to attend where he can simultaneously get close to the blonde and humiliate the slimy pal of the Doge’s who wants to marry her.

While Massimo has done his duty to his country and merely wants to retire to a life of trying to lay the two sexy chicks he is obsessed with, sometimes things happen that cause a man of action to reluctantly strap on the sword and mask one more time for a mission against evil so personal and bad ass that if his two honeypots ever found out, well they’d probably drown in their own pleasure juices from all that manly bravely!

One of his revolutionary pals gets himself captured after a somewhat laughable marsh brawl with the Doge’s men. Dudes standing around and stumbling in calf-high water doesn’t scream “breathtaking action” so much as “can you imagine the dry cleaning bill for the costumes after this scene?”

Hooded officials torture him for about ten seconds (a light whipping and single application of a hot poker really barely qualifies as excessive force, let alone full on torture!) before deciding that he wont reveal any of his co-conspirators. His death sentence is then carried out, but not before Massimo breaks in to save the day!

And by saving the day, I of course mean that he gets there only in time to discover the his pal was executed by his pal’s own father! His friend does have a long enough death scene so that he can tell Massimo he forgives his father which allows Massimo to mention this when he is about to be executed later himself, but that unlike that dumb dead kid, Massimo isn’t forgiving squat!

What?!? Massimo about to be executed? But how could it be? Especially since the guy who is also after Katrina is one of the revolutionaries and agreed to let bygones be bygones at one of their secret meetings and showed up just in the nick of time to help Massimo when he was facing a bunch of soldiers trying to arrest him. It turns out the only revolution this guy was interested in was the one to overthrow Katrina’s chastity belt!

The film’s break neck pace of talking, meetings, speeches, and the Doge’s frequent jabber about being obeyed is only broken toward the end of the movie when the rabble of Venice seemingly have had enough of all the movie’s nonstop chatter and take matters into their own hands, starting a riot and denouncing the Doge while Massimo and his new pigeon-loving jailhouse buddy make their escape from the prison via rooftop.

Sporadic outbreaks of action mar an otherwise excellent 100 minutes of dialogue-laden period drama. Real men who love their swashbuckling movies to be light on the swashbuckling and heavy on fancy dancing will no doubt find their bodices popping with glee during the big waltz (or whatever the hell it was) where everyone is decked out in their dandiest attire.

And the dastardly plot involving part of a years-old love letter is just another example of how Gentlemen of the Night realizes that what may have been accomplished in a less sophisticated film with a kinky-hair-pulling-face-slapping cat fight, can be achieved with a reasonable explanation that leaves both women on friendly terms instead of clawing she cats with torn corsets and mussed hair! Truly then, Gentlemen of the Night lives up to its title. For pantyhose wearing gentlemen only!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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