Elizabeth Montgomery and Henry Silva in Johnny Cool (1963)


(director: William Asher; screenwriters: from the novel The Kingdom of Johnny Cool by John McPartland/Joseph Landon; cinematographer: Sam Leavitt; editor: Otto Ludwig; music: Billy May/Les Vandyke; cast: Henry Silva (Johnny Cool/Salvatore Giordano), Elizabeth Montgomery (Darien ‘Dare’ Guiness), Richard Anderson (Correspondent), Jim Backus (Louis Murphy), Joey Bishop (Holmes, Used Car Salesman), Brad Dexter (Lennart Crandall), Wanda Hendrix (Miss Connolly), Hank Henry (Larry, Bus Driver), Marc Lawrence (Johnny Colini), John McGiver (Oscar B. ‘Oby’ Hinds), Gregory Morton(March),Mort Sahl (Ben Morrow), Sammy Davis Jr. (Educated), Telly Savalas (Santangelo), Elisha Cook Jr. (Gangster); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Asher; United Arists; 1963)

It relies on its implausible brutal action scenes to provide most of the entertainment.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This offbeat dreary but ultra-violent crime drama packs no emotional impact, makes no sense and is as dull as dishwater despite all the killings. It relies on its implausible brutal action scenes to provide most of the entertainment. Joseph Landon’s inept script from the novel The Kingdom of Johnny Cool by John McPartland, is filled with holes. The only thing cool about the film is that it has two criminals in it who call themselves Cool. Longtime TV director William Asher (“Beach Blanket Bingo”/”Movers & Shakers”/”Mobs, Inc.“) directs this sadistic revenge thriller as a shocker, it suffers from awkward pacing, robotic acting and terrible editing.

Mafia kingpin from Chicago Johnny Colini (Marc Lawrence), known as Johnny Cool, has been deported to Rome. The wealthy elderly mobster wants to get even with the American mob that informed on him and took over his business interests, and devises a far-fetched scheme to carry out his revenge. Colini arranges for the fake death of a Sicilian mob chief named Salvatore Giordano (Henry Silva) and trains him to go to America to eliminate all the Mafia bosses who did him wrong. The young Sicilian is promised that he will inherit the Colini empire if he succeeds. If you believe this cockeyed premise, I’ve got some real estate to sell you.

The US mission on vengeance has Johnny criss-crossing between New York and LA in a three-day period, where the lone hitman kills by himself in uniquely brutal ways a number of top protected mafioso figures who front legit businesses and hooks up with a naive sexually horny divorcee, Darien ‘Dare’ Guiness (Elizabeth Montgomery, became the wife of the director right after the pic was released), who, if you are gullible enough to believe, becomes his accomplice until she can’t take the bloody thrills any more and sells him down the river.

The humor part comes from a number of celebrity cameos, that include ones from Jim Backus, Sammy Davis Jr. (who also sings the theme song), Mort Sahl and Joey Bishop. This ridiculous story line is a sorry excuse for a picture.