Color, 1978, 109 mins. 33 secs. / 102 mins. 17 secs.
Directed by Damiano Damiani
Starring Tony Musante, Claudia Cardinale, John Steiner, John Forsythe, Renzo Palmer, Fabrizio Jovine, Wolfgango Soldati, Gianrico Tondinelli
Radiance (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/B HD), Cinekult, Mustang (DVD) (Italy R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

A decade after Goodbye & Amenembarking on a wave of socially conscious Italian crime Goodbye & Amenfilms mostly starring Franco Nero, director Damiamo Damiani essentially closed the book on that period with two unorthodox but excellent coda, I Am Afraid and the ambitious Goodbye & Amen. Despite having a strong international cast and being shot in English largely with live sound for the leads, the latter film barely got any exposure outside of Italy but earned a reasonable cult following among those dogged enough to track it down on home video. Essentially a large-scale hostage film against a geopolitical backdrop, it's a quirky and often propulsive adaptation of part of a Francis Clifford novel, The Grovesnor Square Goodbye, a twisty tale about a sniper causing pandemonium atop a hotel.

Here we get multiple vantage points of the story with the main constant factor being John Dhannay (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage's Musante), an opportunistic CIA agent in Rome who's in the middle of orchestrating a personally beneficial overthrow of an African government. All of that goes out the window at a nearby Hilton when gunshots ring out and a rifle-toting Douglas Grayson (Tenebrae's Steiner) holes up in the hotel room of the prominent Mrs. De Mauro (Once Upon a Time in the West's Cardinale), holding her hostage along with her rather dim adulterous plaything, actor Jack (Gianrico Tondinelli). Meanwhile law enforcement headed by Inspector Moreno (Jovine) has to parse through several different motivations and links to power including the U.S. Goodbye & AmenAmbassador (Forsythe) and links between the players that aren't immediately Goodbye & Amenobvious.

With its multiple swervy plot twists and catchy score by the great Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, Goodbye & Amen has been a strangely undervalue film over the years, even prompting Damiano himself to disparage it later on in interviews. The rather large canvas on which the story is told (especially the vivid nocturnal climax) makes it feel like the end of a chapter in the director's career, though he did round out the '70s with a couple of more intimate Giuliano Gemma crime dramas before moving on in the '80s to Amityville II: The Possession and one of the decade's biggest Italian TV sensations, La Piovra.

A decent run of Italian home video releases including a VHS and at least two DVD options, all without English-friendly options, provided the sources for gray market copies of this film for many years, but its official Blu-ray debut in 2024 from Radiance is a real joy to behold in many respects. The new 2023 restoration from the original camera negative looks excellent, nailing the earthy and moody look of the film with its bland hotel room interiors and striking nighttime photography; the LPCM Italian 1.0 mono audio for the default viewing option is also excellent and features good English optional subtitles. However, you also get the slightly streamlined 102-minute English-language Goodbye & Amenversion for the first time on video anywhere; it's an extreme rarity and great to have here since you can enjoy the original voices and vocal deliveries of Musante, Cardinale, Forsythe, Steiner, etc. The Goodbye & Amenmissing material is mainly some extra character info about Dhannay including some clear implications that he's pulled variations of this stuff before, and it's highly recommended to see the film this way at least once to really get the most of the performances. An opening disclaimer notes that this ultra-rare English track was too poor in quality to restore, but it's still perfectly listenable with only some minor issues and handful of rough spots to detract. A new audio commentary by Howard S. Berger and this writer obviously can't be evaluated here, but it will hopefully prove to have some value to listeners. An interview with film editor Antonio Siciliano (38m49s) goes into his initial intimidation about working with Damiani on The Most Beautiful Wife, his immense satisfaction with Confessions of a Police Captain, the director's equal prominence as a painter (which factored into how his screenplays were presented), and a missed opportunity on La Piovra. Also included is an archival 2013 interview with actor Wolfgango Soldati, "Wolf's Instinct" (23m49s), about how he got to audition for this film (and got in shape very fast), his impressions of the "hulking" Damiani, the challenge of doing the script right off the bat in English, the shooting at the Rome Hilton, and various memories from the set. The package also come with a limited edition booklet featuring an essay by Lucia Rinaldi.

Reviewed on March 10, 2024