Johnny Colini (Marc Lawrence), an exiled American organised crime boss living in Sicily, rescues young Sicilian outlaw Salvatore Giordano (Henry Silva) from the police. He grooms and polishes Giordano, renames him “Johnny Cool,” and sends him on a vengeance mission back to the US to execute the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile.
Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list. Meanwhile, he picks up wealthy divorcée Dare Guinness (Elizabeth Montgomery in her first big screen role after years on the stage and in television), a fashion designer who becomes his accomplice.
Johnny murders by riding a window-washer’s platform to a skyscraper penthouse, by blasting away in the middle of Grand Central Station, and by hurling dynamite into a swimming pool, leaving a trail of blood from New York to Las Vegas via Los Angeles.
In less than two hours, Johnny Cool butchers two victims with a steak knife, shoots two in the chest, batters in the head of a fifth, blows up a sixth and machine guns a seventh. Cool’s assorted victims include Telly Savalas, Jim Backus, John McGiver, Mort Sahl and Brad Dexter.
Dare is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta and eventually brings about Johnny’s downfall.
It’s a brutally violent film packaged with atrociously poor acting and a story which starts nowhere, goes nowhere and ends there.
Peter Lawford was the Executive Producer and provided roles for his Rat Pack buddies Sammy Davis Jr. (as “Educated”, a handy man with the dice) and Joey Bishop (as a used car salesman but essentially playing himself).
Director William Asher and Elizabeth Montgomery, the female lead, were married in the same month that the film was released in the US – October 1963.
Johnny Cool/Salvatore Giordano
Darien ‘Dare’ Guinness
Larry the Bus Driver
Oscar B. ‘Oby’ Hinds
Vincenzo ‘Vince’ Santangelo
Sammy Davis Jr
Elisha Cook Jr.
George N. Neise