In adapting Mario Puzo's novel, eschewing the political complexity of Francesco Rosi's classic Salvatore Giuliano, Cimino opts for silly and mendacious mythologising. Here the Sicilian bandit Giuliano (Lambert) becomes a heroic Christ figure, his acts of theft and murder prompted by sympathy for the peasantry, his death the result of a Judas-like betrayal manipulated by sinister and dishonorable figures of State, Church and Underworld; incredibly, he is even exonerated from responsibility for the notorious massacre of innocent Communists. Bathos abounds: American Duchess Sukowa falls head over heels for the noble savage; even Mafia capo Ackland sheds a tear for the brave son he never had. The dialogue is ponderously poetic, stilted and over-emphatic, characters are convenient cyphers, and both cutting and photography tend towards the bombastic. Folly, then, but gloriously inept and overblown.
Cast and crew