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Snack Bar Budapest


Poster designed by Guazzi

“This is by Tinto Brass?” That was my silent question from the film’s first frame. Brass’s films are warm and personal. Snack Bar Budapest is ice-cold and impersonal. This seems to have been a commercial venture designed only to make money. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Scored with moody electronic/jazz/rock music by Zucchero, filled with dark rooms lit by blue neon, and consisting only of heartless characters, this is simply not what one would expect to pour forth from Brass’s editing suite. The story has a disbarred Lawyer, recently released from the slammer and now involved with organized crime, taking Milena, who is both his girlfriend and his partner Sapo’s girlfriend, to a hospital in Ostia for an overnight abortion. He checks into a pension called the Snack Bar Budapest where Sapo instructs him by phone to make contact with the up-and-coming local kingpin, a 19-year-old punk-pimp-gangster named Molecola (Italian for “molecule”), who is a Buffalo-trained politician trying to run out the mom-and-pop shops and turn the town into a giant casino-entertainment complex, with the Snack Bar as the centerpiece. The Lawyer (he has no other name) accepts the job of ridding the town of the Snack Bar’s owners, a father, mother, and teenage daughter he had once represented in court. Objecting to the torture inflicted upon mommy by Pappera, one of Molecola’s thugs, the Lawyer bludgeons him to death. In revenge, Molecola and his hookers turn on the pension with rapid-fire pistols. Though the Lawyer and Sapo win out against the poor aim of the hopelessly untrained gunners, they are too late to rescue Milena, who had been strangled to death just after her abortion, apparently by Molecola’s gang.

Snack Bar Budapest uses a formula that almost always works. It consists of two parts: if you (1) go to pains to establish that your story is believable, you can then (2) add the most preposterous ingredients and your audience will still buy it. And here, after an hour and a half, we just accept that a bunch of coked-up hookers, still dressed in their skimpy come-on outfits, are happy to send streams of badly aimed bullets into a hotel. It works! The same holds true with the news media. Journalists — of all political persuasions — follow this formula every day to make us believe whatever their big bosses want us to believe. And it works!

I doubt the film earned a profit, but I’m not sure. This could easily have been the sort of sleaze that the Hollywood studios vomit forth all the time. It is with embarrassment that I admit I used to work in cinemas, and for years and years I had to deal with the ugly crime pics that kept being shoved at me. Despite their poor earning power, it is still dogma that they are staples of the box office’s diet. I can’t even remember most of the crap that I saw or that I had to force-feed our audiences. But here, with a distinguished professor given a kindergarten assignment, we have a film that looks far more smooth and slick than anything we get from our studio hacks, and it puts to shame the garbage that plagues our movie screens. In a sense, it’s exquisite. Brass was hired to make a thriller, and boy did he make a thriller. But it’s not exactly a feel-good movie, if you get my drift. Unlike most of Brass’s films, the focus is on the men, but unlike Yankee, this is hardly a celebration of machismo. Anyway, like some other Brass movies that disappointed me at first, I found myself becoming addicted over the following few weeks. There’s something about his movies that just grows on you (or at least on me).

MOMENTS WORTH WATCHING FOR: Tinto Brass plays the confused judge (with a Hitler mustache), and his wife Tinta is also behind the bench. In another scene, Osiride Pevarello plays a monk who visits the ballroom at Molecola’s brothel and has a great time dancing with the girls. The unexpected appearances of Osiride Pevarello constitute my favorite running gag in Brass’s films. When Molecola takes his thugs to attack a local cinema, the Cine Tabù, he says that he hopes the Lawyer enjoys “porn” films. And what is this “porn” film playing there? Why, The Key, of course! You can’t miss the close-up of the motor scooter’s license plate: TB 8 1567. I wonder what those first two letters stand for. And then Molecola’s license plate is TB 51 2254. Hey.

TWO GREAT ACTORS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE AND WILL PROBABLY NEVER HEAR OF AGAIN: François Négret had appeared a year or so earlier in Louis Malle’s Au revoir les enfants, with probably his real voice. Here he’s dubbed into Italian, and he is just perfect as the overly demonstrative crime boss. He’s supposed to be 19, but he looks more like 15 or 16. You won’t forget him. And Sylvie Orcier, who bears an undeniable and probably deliberate resemblance to Tim Curry’s Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has a powerful stage presence as well as an innate comic gift. She’s a dynamo.

The phenomenal François Négret
The phenomenal Sylvie Orcier

ROBERTO LERICI. This was the final collaboration between Tinto Brass and playwright Roberto Lerici, who would die just a few years later. In the future, without Giancarlo Fusco or Roberto Lerici on hand, Brass began to repeat himself. Now, that’s not a bad thing, not at all. But it does seem to indicate that Brass really missed his fellow brainstormers.

TECHNICAL NOTES: The VHS edition was electronically matted at about 1.85:1, which is too small but doesn’t look bad at all. The print used in the transfer was a circulating theatrical print, with grease-pencil cue marks every 15 minutes or so. While the film has no heart, it has technical ultraprecision. And that makes me wonder why there are two mistaken camera moves during the opening credits, which was probably the easiest and least expensive shot in the film. Why didn’t the crew take 15 minutes to re-shoot it? Odd. The rest of the film is technically flawless.

Tinta Brass
QUESTIONS: The voice that comes out of Philippe Léotard’s mouth is the same as the voice that came out of Alberto Lupo’s mouth in Action. And it looks as though François Négret delivered his lines in French. So who dubbed the voices? And can anyone help us identify the actors?

Italian DVD, allegedly wrongly cropped at 1.85:1. No idea about language options. PAL, which will not play on most US equipment.

The British Region-2 PAL DVD, which will not play on most US equipment. Correctly transferred at 1.66:1. Optional English subtitles. No extras. Note the plagiarized summary on the web site, which I have told the folks at Arrow about several times, to no  avail. (I really don’t usually mind when people plagiarize me, if they only take a few sentences or paragraphs here and there. But when they don’t understand my jokes, I get upset.)

From an outfit called MYA. Haven’t seen it. NoShame Films once promised to release this on DVD in the US sooner or later, but I think they closed shop.

Clarence — Autori A–L: Lodoli
Ipse dixit: Marco Lodoli
Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina Sala Mostre: 9 November, Marco Lodoli
And the always-expected dead link:

Blue: Unofficial Site of Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari
MusicalStore.it: Zucchero
And the dead links:

Miss Italia Pageant 1983: Raffaella Baracchi.

ANICA — Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali

Giovanni Bertolucci, Galliano Juso e Reteitalia presentano
un film di Tinto Brass

Snack Bar Budapest

Liberamente tratta dal romanzo omonimo di (freely adapted from the novel of the same name by) Marco Lodoli and Silvia Bre, edito da (published by) Bompiani
Collaborazione ai dialoghi di
(collaboration on the dialogue by)
Roberto Lerici
Una coproduzione (a coproduction) Reteitalia S.p.A.
San Francisco Film S.r.l.
Metrofilm S.r.l.
Operatore alla macchina (camera operator) Carlo Montuori
Collaborazione al montaggio
(assistant editor)
Fiorenza Müller
Aiuto regista (assistant director) Roberto Palmerini
Montatore del suono (sound editor) Sandro Peticca
Direttore di produzione (production manager) Massimo Ferrero
Edizione a cura di (continuity) Carla Cipriani
Organizzatore amministrativo (accounting manager) Mario Sampaolo
Organizzatore generale (general manager) Aldo U. Passalacqua
Costumi di (costumes by) Jost Jakob
Production designer Paolo Biagetti
Scenografia - Arredamento
(art direction - set décor)
Massimo Spano, Bruno Cesari
Music by Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari
Additional music by David Sancious
Direttore della fotografia
(director of photography)
Alessio Gelsini (a.i.c.)
Scritto, diretto e montato da
(written, directed, and edited by)
Tinto Brass
Segretaria di edizione (continuity) Carla Cipriani
Ass. regia (assistants to the director) Francesco Ascione, Bonifacio Brass
Fotografo di scena (still photographer) Gianfranco Salis
Ufficio stampa (publicity) Lucherini - Pignatelli
Ass. operatore (assistant camera operator) Ettore Corso, Claudio Sabatini
Aiuto operatore (focus puller) Ivan Casalgrandi
Parucchieri (hair dressers) Giancarlo De Leonardis, Barbara De Leonardis
Truccatori (make-up artists) Giovanni Rufini, Claudia Shone, Gabriella Trani
Maestro d’armi (stunt coordinator) Giorgio Ricci
Capo macchinista (key grip) Giancarlo Rocchetti
Capo elettricista (gaffer) Sergio Spila
Capo attrezzista (prop master) Roberto Magagnini
Coreografo (choreography) Pino Pennese
Effetti speciali (special effects) Corridori Studio
Fonico (sound) Fabio Ancillai
Microfonista (boom operator) Marco di Biase
Costumista (costume designer) Massimo Bettini
Elettricisti (best boys) Marcello Cardarelli, Franco Cardarelli, Walter Romoli
Macchinisti (grips) Massimo Galiano, Riccardo Ferrero, Roberto Rosati
Ass. al montaggio (second asst. editors) Benedetto Atria, Emanuele Cassin
Sarte (dressmakers) Franca Paoletti, Alberta Ceccarelli
Ispettore di produzione (unit manager) Luciano Pecoraro
Segretari di produzione (production secretaries) Francesca Andriotto, Mauro Babini, Alessio Juso, Annamaria Severini, Carlo Macrini
Amm.ri cassieri (payroll) Alessandra Sampaolo, Ruggero Nicolai
Teatri di posa (interiors) / Postsincronizzazione Cinecittà
Negativi (negative stock) Kodak S.p.A.
Sviluppo e stampa (lab) Telecolor S.p.A.
Tecnico del colore (color technician) Pasquale Cuzzupoli
Segretario di doppiaggio (dubbing secretary) Corrado Russo
Fonico di doppiaggio (dubbing recorder) Angelo Raguseo
Mixage (mixing) Fausto Ancillai
Mixage (mixing) Cine Audio Effects:
Fernando Caso, Alvaro Gramigna
Dolby Stereo Sound Consultant Federico Savina
Titoli e truke (titles and opticals) Studio 4
Sartoria (wardrobe) Russo, GP 11
Calzature (footwear) L.C.P. S.r.l.
Parrucche (wigs) Rocchetti - Carboni
Giolelli (jewelry) Paolo Fidemi
Pellicce (furs) de Carlis - Roma
Arredamento (set décor) Dedalo - GRP
Mezzi tecnici (technical equipment) Cinenoleggio, A.R.C.O. Due S.r.l.
Trasporti (transport) Romana Trasporti Cinematografici S.r.l.
Executive producer Michael Torpedine
Edizioni musicali (music publishers) POLYGRAM DISCHI - BIXIO C.E.M.S.A. - RISPETTO
Musical excerpts “IL VALZER DELL’ORGANINO” di B. Cherubini - C.A. Bixio, Ed. Musicali BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
“ARTURO E MARION,” di Vincent Tempera, Ed. Musicali BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
“SWEET GIRL,” di Farmer - Bixio - Frazzi - Tempera, Ed. Musicali BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
“L’AMORE È UN PIZZICOR,” di B. Cherubini - C.A. Bixio, Ed. Musicali BIXIO SAM
“VIOLINO TZIGANO,” (B. Cherubini - C.A. Bixio), Ed. BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
“RAPP’S BOOGIE,” (L. Humphries - J. Bilsbury - G. Bottger), Ed. BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
“SHE’S MY LITTLE GIRL,” (Farmer - Bixio - Frizzi - Tempera), Ed. BIXIO C.E.M.S.A.
Avvocato Giancarlo Giannini
Sapo Philippe Léotard
Molecola François Négret
Milena Raffaella Baracchi
Hospital patient ???
Pappera? Giorgio Tirabassi
Madre Katalin Murany
Figlia Giuditta del Vecchio
??? Valentine Demì
??? Claudio Del Falco
??? Cyril Aubin
Carla Sylvie Orcier
??? Isabelle Mantero
Owner of lingerie shop Loredana Romito
??? Roberto Trasarti
??? Luciana Cirenei
??? Tilde De Spirito
One of Molecola’s hookers Elena Cantarone
??? Malisa Longo
One of Molecola’s hookers Alessandra Bonarrota
??? Tiziana Del Poggio
Brasile Marcia Sedoc
A nurse Lucia Prato
??? Elisabetta Lupetti
One of Molecola’s hookers Carmen Di Pietro
??? Sibilla De Conti
??? Giulio Mascolini
Padre Carlo Monni
Il monaco Osiride Pevarello [uncredited]
Il giudice Tinto Brass [uncredited]
La giudice Carla Cipriani [uncredited]