Nokaut [The Rogue] (1971) January 07, 2019 08:00
Barbara Bouchet leaves little to the imagination in Nokaut (aka The Rogue (US title) Donne sopra, femmine sotto (Italian title)) a low budget euro-crime film from a Yugoslavian director and writing team that often creates flashes of déjà vu of another under appreciated Italian euro-crime film, Colpo rovente [Red Hot Shot].
Lucky unknown Yugoslavian actor Milan Galovic, in his only starring film role (with credits in only two films total), is Marko a twenty something, low level con man who makes a living stealing artwork from churches, pimping himself out to female American tourists and pulling con jobs. His parents unaware of his shady practices urge him to get a job, but he's ashamed of them and his small village and sees potential in his next con finally breaking him free of his meager upbringing.
Having recently returned from an extended stay in America where he rubbed elbows (and more) with a lovely and wealthy New York real-estate tycoon Barbara Nelson (Barbara Bouchet). Marko has a sloppy plan to woo her on her upcoming visit to Italy, convince her to marry him and gain control of her wealth. Of course Barbara doesn't know that Marko is nothing but a thief, so to keep up appearances and earn some quick cash to make himself look successful he gets mixed up with some big boys in the local drug smuggling ring.
He takes the drugs he's paid to deliver and turns around and sells them to their competition, dropping off an empty box at the delivery location. Shockingly the drug dealers don't take too kindly to being two timed, Marko plays stupid but they give him one day to find the drugs or he'll pay with his life. To his own detriment Marko is confident that he can marry Barbara and get out of the country before then, but things quickly begin to spiral out of control as he begins to get too sloppy with all his side hustles, including a pursuance of local tour guide Olga (Margaret Lee) on top of everything else!
The Rogue is one of those films if you look close enough you can see the massive amount of potential it could have had if it had been placed in the right hands. I couldn't help but think about Colpo rovente [Red Hot Shot] a film so similar in subject matter and execution that suffered because of the similar faults of the director / writers that are also present in this film. But even with it's flaws The Rogue does a good job at portraying the highs and inevitable lows of someone on the adrenaline rush of making fast money, blowing it and then having to go even deeper into depravity to climb back up.
A seemingly constant compliant about these films is flow, the lack of the director's and writer's ability to flush out the story. The often poor, or even lack of background information into character relationships or events often leave this film layered with plot holes. For example most of Marko's relationships are barely explained, so we witness multiple interactions with people we have zero clue who they are, or the background info is so quick and choppy it only makes it more confusing. Margaret Lee's appearance (while I'm not complaining) simply feels out of place and her involvement in the film's conclusion seems like a rushed attempt to give her character a point, and it doesn't work. Then the multiple cut scenes of teenagers getting mauled in the streets of Italy by adults with is a bizarre side commentary that with no context will only leave viewers confused who aren't familiar with the era or culture.
The Rogue (also much like Colpo rovente [Red Hot Shot]) is also tries and utterly fails to replicate the artsy shots that are made famous by Italian director Federico Fellini. Whether it be the spray painting of the two nude girls on the island (who we're supposed to know), the never ending 35mm camera footage Marko seems to always have on him, or the sporadic love making scenes where it appears the camera man is paying more attention to Barbara Bouchet than where he's pointing the camera. After a while it all becomes a little nauseating, and as Barbara says in one of the many camera footage scenes herself "boring".
On the plus side if up to this point in the early career of Barbara Bouchet you've complained you haven't seen enough of her, that is swiftly put to rest here. Not only is The Rogue one of her larger supporting cast appearances to this point but she bares all for 85 to 90% of the time she's on screen. Whether it's speeding around the Italian countryside in a sports car completely nude, or the countless romps with Marko, she leaves nothing to the imagination. With that said the love making scenes are beyond campy, and I think the amount of tongue action would actually make the French blush. But one has to acknowledge Milan Galovic essentially won the lottery in getting this role, for only being in two films he spends 10% of the time pressed against a nude Barbara Bouchet and Margaret Lee, two of the hottest women in Italian cult cinema, not a bad way to end your brief acting career.
Overall, The Rogue is a film that's likely to appeal to hardcore obscure euro-crime fans, if you've seen and enjoyed the literal hot mess of Colpo rovente [Red Hot Shot] you're likely to find a similar amount of enjoyment here and can recognize the potential that this film could have really had. If not you'll probably find yourself overly bored by the pace, the plot holes and the general sloppiness of the editing and direction.