It is rather mystifying (to say the least) that the Italian cinema is unknown by and large for its rinascimento in films such as this. Had the blinded philistines won out in other instances, we might have had the glorious British New Wave silenced as “kitchen sink” cinema, but wiser heads prevail in the long run.
It was, at the time, fashionable to dismiss the erudition, brilliance and inventiveness of Sollima or Parolini or Leone with reference to the national dish, as though you were calling Robert Altman a maker of “Big Mac” pictures.
But to be entirely fair, Città Violenta is an almost inexpressibly wonderful film. Great discoveries are made in every shot, and the larger scenes and structures are sculpted with a self-effacing chisel, like Michelangelo (or better Picasso, whose Guernica provided the inspiration for Bronson’s face turned in the last scene into a phallic symbol). The complicated ravishments include the consummation of Jill Ireland’s rise to power (in a glass elevator, yet), a Harperesque ambience down South, and the stark new visions of the swamps Sollima provides.