The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 14-20

nyc-repertory-cinema-hands-of-steel

Hands of Steel (1986)
Directed by Sergio Martino
Claudio Cassinelli, the Stacy Keach of Italy, had rather awful luck despite his poise and dignity. His movie star handsomeness made him Martino’s first-choice leading man in the late 70s and he acquitted himself with stolid gusto. When his looks began to fade, he stepped into character roles so quickly it might have taken even a fan a moment to recognize him behind dad glasses and a beard. He gave himself fully to rounding out edges for Lucio Fulci and yes, to Martino, whom he tragically died in service of. It was on the set of Hands of Steel that he was killed in a helicopter crash. The film, a plastic Terminator rip-off starring Daniel Greene, would make a nice pairing with the similarly supercharged wackness of the same year’s Maximum Overdrive, also about machines gone rogue. Casinelli is typically composed and appealing as the grinning, gun-toting villain. He died in the line of duty, and he deserves more posthumous celebration than we’ve ever gotten around to. The real tragedy of the Italian film industry in those days: so much of its finest work was done in shadow in service of producing cheap knock-offs. Make no mistake, there were giants in those days. Scout Tafoya (December 15, 10pm; December 17, 7:30pm at the Spectacle)

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