The Bottom Line

Sly Stallone proves he has at least one and a half dimensions in this light ensemble screwball comedy set in Depression-era Chicago. Feared by moviegoers, overlooked by critics, it is a classic in the waiting for adventure-seeking comedy lovers.

The Rest of the Story

Even in the old days he was known as an honest crook.

That's an oxymoron.

Gee Doc you shouldn't otta said that.

Snaps Provolone (Stallone) makes a promise to his dying father (Kirk Douglas, in a hilarious cameo) that he will end his mobster ways and go clean. To work out the process, he arranges a meeting with some unsavory bankers to incorporate himself in their business as a "silent" partner.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rosano (an unknown Vincent Spano playing the solid straight guy), who, in addition to being Snaps' accountant, has some news for Snaps: he's in love with Snaps' daughter. Oh yeah, and he stole $50,000 from Snaps.


From here, the plot thickens tremendously. The cops are watching Snaps, waiting for him to mess up so they can bust him (and get their mugs on the front page); meanwhile, the maid quits before the bankers arrive, putting the house in somewhat disarray. Things compound further when a young lady named Theresa arrives - and reveals that she lied and told Anthony she was Snaps' daughter! In the meantime, Snaps learns his daughter Lisa (a to-a-tee Marisa Tomei) is pregnant, and offers her hand in marriage to his speech therapist, Dr. Thornton Poole (Tim Curry in a wonderful eye-rolling understated performance.) Meanwhile, Snaps also schemes to dupe Anthony out of the money through a bait-and-switch with a valise that soon gets very out of control.

Later plots involving more misunderstandings and coincidences than your average David Mamet screenplay keep the story going well past the 90 minute mark. Will Anthony and Theresa find true love? Will Snaps come clean? And just when will that new maid from the office show up?

My Thoughts

When I saw this movie made the Least Influential Movies of All Time List, I was flabbergasted. Certainly, this movie didn't deserve any Oscars (pun intended), but it is a charming movie, full of the fast-talking wit that's been missing from the big screen since You Can't Take It With You and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Stallone proves that he can do comedy - his looks at the camera are priceless - and everybody else seems to fit in their role seamlessly. Chazz Palminteri and Peter Riegert shine as Snaps' two henchmen with hearts. Ornella Muti is gorgeous, as usual, and every line in the movie is crisp and cutting. The movie definitely has a theatrical feel to it (it's based on a play by Claude Magnier) and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what's going on without a play by play announcer and a rewind button. But still - least influential? Those opening puppetoon credits are worth the price of admission alone!

For some reason, this movie was so out of touch with expectations of Stallone in 1991 that it failed at the box office. I'm sure even now you're probably incredulous that the man has the most minor modicum of talent in him. I swear: rent this movie and see if you aren't quoting it to your friends the next day.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


John Landis

Written By
Claude Magnier (play)
Michael Barrie (screenplay)
Jim Mulholland (screenplay)

Elmer Bernstein

Sylvester Stallone as Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone
Marisa Tomei as Lisa Provolone
Ornella Muti as Sofia Provolone
Tim Curry as Dr. Thornton Poole
Vincent Spano as Anthony Rossano
Elizabeth Barondes as Theresa
Peter Riegert as Aldo
Chazz Palminteri as Connie
Joey Travolta as Ace
Kurtwood Smith as Lt. Toomey
William Atherton as Mr. Overton
Martin Ferrero as Luigi Finucci
Harry Shearer as Guido Finucci
Don Ameche as Father Clemente
Kirk Douglas as Eduardo Provolone


  • My three viewings.