Now what we got over here is a great little New Jersey based mobsploitation film from the mid 70s. Our main character is a wiseguy named Jerry Bolante (Joseph Cortese). We first meet Jerry while he's bangin' the wife of a local businessman. When the two hear that the woman's husband is home, we get to see how Jerry operates. Calmly he gets dressed in his 70s casual duds, flips the collar over the outside of his jacket (hey, that's style baby) and when the businessman walks upstairs, Jerry yells out: "Its okay, your husbands home now!...Hey, your wife called me to come over cuz she was worried, but its alright now cuz the man of the house is home!...see ya later!". Nice cover!!
Jerry has been away from the neighborhood for awhile but he wants to get back into the collecting business. He pays a visit to one of the local bosses, Don Anthony (Lou Criscuolo) who also happens to own a Italian pasta shop. Jerry explains he needs work and Don Anthony tells him they'll have a meeting at the mafia's gambling spot. Jerry stops by the casino and its there we see a familiar face appear: Joe (Joe Pesci) is an old friend of Jerry's and the two shoot the shit for a few minutes. When Joe tells Jerry that he's broke and is owed money by a lot of people including a mafia boss's nephew (who's at the tables), Jerry starts to get itchy. Joe notices that Jerry may start trouble but Jerry explains not to worry, nothing's gonna happen. Jerry introduces himself to the guy and asks him if hes the mafia bosses nephew, the guy says yes. Then Jerry asks him another question which isnt very polite. This causes a big scene. Meanwhile, Joe is doing his best to crawl into a corner. Jerry has announced himself as a tough guy and someone who has no fear.
When he hears the news, Don Anthony is very upset and tells Jerry hes got to apologize to the guy's uncle and smooth things over. Jerry gets on the phone with Don Jimmy Scalisi and pretty soon Jerry has the guy laughing because Scalisi already knows that his nephew is a putz! After this, Jerry is forgiven and gets set up again as a collector. All he's gotta do is get some money from a deadbeat businessman named Bernie (The Soprano's Frank Vincent). After some standard threats by gunpoint, a beatdown and having the front doors of his house ripped off by a truck, Bernie gets the message and pays up. But when Jerry is driving home with the cash, another car pulls up at a stoplight and two unknown men try to kill him. They steal the money and while he's been shot, luckily Jerry is still alive. He makes it back to his girlfriend's place and after an operation, he slowly recovers. Now, Jerry plans on getting revenge on whoever did it. When he explains to Don Anthony the goons stole the money, Don Anthony lets him know he doesnt trust him anymore. Jerry goes ballistic and screams:
Jerry:"YOU'RE A FUCKIN PIMP!!....YOU FUCKIN PIMP!!"
Don Anthony: "....I'm sorry you feel that way."
After this, Jerry, Joe and another soldier decide to do their own jobs, they want to make all the money instead of just getting a small cut and being punks for Don Anthony's smalltime loan sharking business. When Don Anthony finds out about this insult, he hires a hitman to take them all out. Will they survive or be buried in the weeds?
While watching Death Collector aka Family Enforcer I couldn't help but be reminded of one of my most favorite films, Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973). The character of Jerry is really written like a mix of Harvey Keitel's Charlie and Robert DeNiro's Johnny Boy. He's both smooth AND a crazy loon. Death Collector seems like it could be a precursor to The Sopranos as well. Tony and the crew would be right at home in this.
For mafia film fanatics, this will surely be one you'll want to check out!
Reviewed by Popeye Pete - 4/27/08