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Loaded Guns
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by Jay Seaver

"Do not mess with this stewardess."
3 stars

Ursula Andress had a short peak as a movie star, if she ever was one: A memorable entrance in "Dr. No" and an adaptation of "She" that occasionally claws its way out of the vaults and onto home video. Of course, that's not her entire career - as much as Hollywood has always chewed young beauties up and spit them out, she kept working in Europe. "Loaded Guns" isn't a great addition to her filmography, but it's much better for having her in it.

She plays Nora Green, a flight attendant with a two-day layover in Naples. A passenger asks her to deliver a note, which turns out to be a threat to gangster Silvera (Woody Strode) from shadowy criminal mastermind "Americano". He doesn't kill the messenger, but roughs her up a bit. She's found and taken in by acrobat and former boxer Manuel (Marc Porel), and though she seemed to go down easy at first, Silvera doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

It's a very silly movie, with chase scenes straight out of the Keystone Kops, a silent comedic sidekick who gives a much better impression of being a clown than the actual clowns who attempt to chase Nora down (Silvera's home base appears to be circus), and Manuel's bed conveniently turns into a trampoline when a fight breaks out in his remarkably spacious apartment. The music is something out of the circus, too. The really strange thing, though, is that for as ridiculous as its details are, the story is played rather straight; Silvera is no joke and nothing in the set-up winks at what goes on in the crime story.

Which makes some amount of sense, in that director Fernando Di Leo is much more known for violent crime pictures than screwball comedy. The way he blends the styles is sometimes awkward; an early scene where Silvera and his men slap Nora around, for instance, is exactly as uncomfortable as it should be, but jokes dropped in the middle of fight scenes sometimes fall flat. I suppose that they might be better in the original Italian (the print screened was dubbed into English and titled "Stick 'em Up, Darlings!"), but I kind of doubt it; one can tell that the performances are ham on top of cheese.

That's not always a bad thing, especially when the star is giving the scenery the chewing that it deserves. Nora is not a character of particularly hidden depths - heck, Nora and Andress aren't hiding much of anything, spending a lot of time hopping in and out of bed and changing costumes so that the audience can rest assured she kept her figure from Dr. No into her late thirties - but there's something delicious about the way she constantly barrels ahead, unconcerned about any danger she may be in. A lot of characters behaving the same way would come across as psychotic, and Nora is a bit of a maniac, but she's a chipper, frequently-naked maniac who never seems out of control.

"Loaded Guns", likely no matter what title or language one encounters it in, is a weird movie. It's too frequently sloppy to qualify as a diamond in the rough, but it's never dull. Considering how many low-budget crime movies actually are, that puts "Loaded Guns" ahead of many of its peers.

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originally posted: 06/25/10 01:29:20
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Directed by
  Fernando Di Leo

Written by
  Fernando Di Leo

  Ursula Andress
  Woody Strode
  Marc Porel
  Isabella Biagini
  Lino Banfi

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