With over 100 films and television documentaries in a 50 plus year career, still ongoing in his mid 80s, the prolific Turkish producer-director Yilmaz Atadeniz is a unique dynamo. Working on very low budgets and rushed schedules in the 1960s he turned out at least two masterpieces of the action-fantasy genre, KILINK ISTANBUL DA and KILINK: STRIP AND KILL (both 1967).. But he already been directing films in numerous genreS, including Westerns KOVBOY ALI (1966). His gangster film THE UGLY KING (1966) was a hit in Turkey and made Yilmaz Gunoy into a popular action star, along the lines of Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson. THE UGLY KING perfectly defines his style, or anti-style, a micro-budgeted black and white crime drama with a rather nasty hero (Gunoy), dressed in white tuxedo, driving an American sports car and kicking but to the tune of the illegally appropriated soundtrack music from James Bond epics such as GOLDFINDER, THUNDERBALL and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, the copyright infringement, as was to be the case in subsequent Turkish genre cinema, was unapologetic and to-the-point.
[From YouTube: Çirkin Kral - Türk Filmi
Yapımı : 1966 - Türkiye Tür : Macera Yönetmen : Yılmaz Atadeniz Oyuncular : Tuncel Kurtiz , Yılmaz Güney , Aydemir Akbaş , Reha Yurdakul , Suzan Avcı Senaryo...]
The frenetically paced, non-stop action filled with sex and sadism of the KILINK films, define his aesthetic style, that is an aesthetic based on perpetual movement. The character Kilink was based on Max Bunker's Italian fumetti KRIMINAL, which appeared in 1964, made into a toned down film by Umberto Lenzi in 1967. More importantly it was also inspired by an Italian photo-comic/phot-novel KILLING, which fist appeared in 1966, both KRIMINAL and KILLING was built around a sadistic, nihilistic super criminal, dressed in a skull mask and black skeleton costume, designed by Carlo Rambaldi. The character cut a chilling figure as it seduced, tortured and used scantily clad women and went after fellow criminals with extreme prejudice. The Atadeniz films captured the tone of both the KRIMINAL and KILLING comics much more accurately than the Lenzi film.
But Atadeniz didn't stop with the boxoffice success KILINK films. KARA CELLAT, the film under consideration, features equally outrageous use of music from another International cult film, Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1969). It also has similarities to THE UGLY KING, both films feature morally ambiguous protagonists who target organized crime in personal revenge rampages. There is the Good, the Semi-bad and the Very Bad in this world, mostly the fault of the omnipresent Turkish mafia. Much like his colleague Cetin Inanc, aka “Regisör Jet”/Jet Director, Atadeniz never wastes times with built up, follow through or wrap up, action simply explodes off the screen, builds and then he moves on to the next explosion, it's perpetual action cinema.
Long Shot: the camera slowly pans over the city. Cut to an explosion detonated by bank robbers, a mid 1960s Ford Mustang pulls into view as several bank robbers jump into the car, which speeds away followed by another American custom auto. The vehicles careen through the streets as the credits roll. The robbens finally jump out to count the loot when Black Executioner (Irfan Atasoy), clad in black pants, shirt, gloves and hat, a black cravat with white polka-dots around his neck, emerges, guns blazing, from a hiding place . He robs the robbers of the stolen money, which he will distribute later to the needy. He's a mixture of Robin Hood and Zorro (Atadeniz also directed several Zorro type films). This scene is scored to familiar music lifted from Ennio Morricone's score for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Later, when our anti-hero arrives home to find his father has killed himself due to pressure from the local mafia, another famous cue from that Sergio Leone western, a soulful theme sung by Edda Dell Orso, is used to underscore the tragedy. From thereon the film is a series of increasingly violent encounters between the Black Executioner and various mobsters.
Each action scene set-up almost always involves the protagonist entering a nightclub in which a singer wearing Big late-1960s Hair and much jewelry warbles in front of a big band, or belly dancers perform accompanied by traditional Turkish music. He then confronts business suited mob soldiers, wearing those heavy Turkish mustaches trademarked by the local mob. An elaborate brawl ensues, where our black clad protagonist, now wearing a long scarf in a nod to nightclub dress codes, sucker punches and/or sometimes shoots various thugs before moving onto the next nightclub hangout. These scenes are occasionally interrupted by scenes of our avenger romancing his virtuous girlfriend, who ends up being kidnapped and hanged the mobsters. More fuel for revenge.....
More violent encounters include some exteriors settings, one of which includes Black Executioner back flipping off a building to escape a group of mafioso. These scuffles are all scored with more Morricone cues. One long shootout in a boatyard is scored to the same Morricone music used for a tense encounter between Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson in Leone's epic. This wasn't the first time a Morricone score for a Leone Eurowestern was pilfered by Turkish genre directors. Cetin Inanc's 1970 CEKO, another Turkish Western, stole Morricone's score for THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966). Hopefully, I can see this with English subtitles to correct any details of the twisting plot.
Irfan Atasoy and his stunt double are reliably credible throughout, although Atasoy wears 1970s sideburns instead of the regulation mustache. The climactic gun duel between the protagonist and another mob chieftain is shot with both men placed at either side of a widescreen composition, again a typical Spaghetti Western blocking. The final scene is a very surreal affair as the dead all meet in a happy Beyond where a white wedding is staged. It's all over in less than 80 minutes. Atadeniz immediately ramped up for other shot-on-the-fly adventures, some of which will be covered here in the future.
(C) Robert Monell 2017