Watching Andrea Bianchi's brutal Mafia potboiler, whose Italian title translates literally as "Those Who Matter," I couldn't help wondering whether people were meant to enjoy the experience, or whether they were supposed to be satisfied by recognizing some sort of violent truth in the derivative story. In fact, the story is derivative of spaghetti westerns. It has the Fistful of Dollars/Yojimbo/Red Harvest element of a protagonist playing two factions off each other. It also has the Once Upon a Time in the West element of a killer who performs his own theme music with mysterious significance. Instead of playing a harmonica, Tony Aniante (Henry Silva) whistles an enigmatic, strangely amplified tune while enemies stand about stupefied or confused until Tony steps out of cover and shoots them. He's an American gangster sent to Sicily to settle a local squabble over heroin, some of which was being smuggled inside of "cut up babies." He also has an agenda of his own, hinted at by the whistling and the occasional black and white flashback to some scene of uncertain relevance. Tony is not quite a spaghetti western bounty hunter transplanted to Seventies Sicily, however.
Margie (Barbara Bouchet) hints ever so slightly that she's attracted to Tony
It's hard to judge Quelli che contano as a cinematic experience on the evidence of the Substance DVD. This pan-and-scan edition of the American dub looks like a VHS tape that's been dragged out of the earth. The picture quality is on the level of a Mill Creek DVD -- though many Mill Creek editions actually look better. Somehow, the presentation seems appropriate to the content. Cry of a Prostitute is an experience that should be as little aestheticized as possible. Whatever virtues it has shouldn't be dependent on lighting, vivid color or balanced compositions. At its worst, morally speaking, it's riveting in an appalling way, as if part of the point is the way the film dares you to watch. That's in keeping with Italian exploitation, if not with the wider European cinema of cruelty. Whether you care to watch depends on whether you think the truths of these films are worth telling, or whether they're the truth.