24 February 2024
Cold Eyes of Fear (1971)
90 min.
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari.
With Giovanna Ralli, Frank Wolff, Fernando Rey, Julián Mateos, Karin Schubert, Leonardo Scavino, Franco Marletta, Gianni Garko.
Less Italian giallo than standard crime thriller, Cold Eyes of Fear is tepid by any definition.

Ex-convict Arthur Welt (Wolff) is out to get revenge on the corrupt judge (Rey) who wrongfully sent him to prison. So, Welt and his greasy henchman Quill (Mateos) target the judge's playboy nephew Peter (Garko) and his lovely - if a bit trampy - new girlfriend Anna (Ralli). The thugs hold the poor couple hostage, while Arthur searches for the long-missing court documents which will incriminate the wayward judge.

What could have been a superior "abduction-assault" action thriller instead spirals into humdrum mediocrity.

Director Castellari is clearly a talented filmmaker; simply check out his excellent action flicks Heroin Busters (1977), or The Big Racket (1976).

But here, he often seems confined by the limitations of the material, rather than liberated by its possibilities. The action is minimal, and nearly all the plotting takes place inside the judge's house, giving Cold Eyes a claustrophobic feel and languorous pacing that doesn't serve it well.

Thankfully, Garko and Ralli give spirited performances, and the showdown climax finally allows the two of them to let loose. But it's too little, too late to boost this minor effort.

Also known as Desperate Moments. Italian title: Gli occhi freddi della paura.

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