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Men of Respect

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Men of Respect is a brilliant crime drama film of 1990 that fuses elements of traditional gangster cinema with a reinterpretation of a literary classic. This cinematic offering was directed and written by the skilled William Reilly in his directorial debut. The talented cast includes well-known actor John Turturro, Katherine Borowitz, and Dennis Farina, among others, all of whom turn in stellar performances throughout the movie.

In a bold and unique twist, Men of Respect uses the iconic plot structure from Shakespeare's tragic play, "Macbeth," transposing it into the realm of organized crime and the power struggles inherent within that world. Testament to its excellence, the film successfully manages to capture the essence of the original play while imbuing it with a contemporary flavor that sets it apart from both traditional crime dramas and other adaptations of Shakespeare's works.

The main character, Mike Battaglia played by John Turturro, is a loyal hitman and capo in a powerful New York City crime family. Similar to the character of Macbeth, he is a man of ambition, valor, and inner turmoil. His loyalty to his boss is tested when he is given a prophesy of power by a fortune teller, a character who mirrors the witches of "Macbeth". Being a kind-hearted and once loyal individual, Battaglia is led towards an unending spiral of events filled with murder, paranoia, guilt, and power when he decides to seize this power.

Playing well off Battaglia's ambitious inclinations is Katherine Borowitz in the role of Ruthie Battaglia, Mike's wife. She draws her character parallel to Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play. Ruthie, similar to Lady Macbeth, becomes a driving force for her husband's reckless ambition, encouraging and even aiding him in his quest for dominance over the crime family. Lady Macbeth's infamous mental breakdown is expertly mirrored in Ruthie's unraveling as guilt and fear begin to consume her.

Dennis Farina portrays the boss, D'Amico, convincingly. Farina's character takes on the role of King Duncan from Shakespeare's play, overseeing the operations of crime family with veteran composure and authority. Alas, D'Amico, much like King Duncan, grossly underestimates the extent to which one his most trusted men will go for power.

The characters of D'Amico's sons translate elegantly into the context of 20th century New York, creating a perfect framework for understanding the original Shakespearean tragedy in a modern context. They are, after all, the ones who would naturally succeed their father in this criminal empire, ties that make the unfolding drama even more compelling.

Dispersed throughout the narrative are numerous fascinating side characters who are all fully developed, each with their own intricate subplots that weave into the main storyline. The character of Bankie Como, played flawlessly by Peter Boyle, brings in an element of eerie prophesy and unsettling omens, embodying the witches' role in the classic play.

Reilly's direction, together with Ernest Day's camerawork, provides an atmosphere that's texture-rich and brooding, enhancing the tension and emotional depth of the story. The setting effortlessly transitions between the seedy underbelly of New York's streets and lavish penthouse suites, which serve as a visual representation of the societal ascension that Mike Battaglia seeks.

The performances of the entire cast are naturalistic and powerful, with Turturro's commanding portrayal of Mike Battaglia deserving special mention. His character's growing paranoia and guilt, catalyzed by his reckless ambition, reveal a man unraveling under the weight of his actions and their consequences, a performance delivered with extraordinary tact and depth by Turturro.

In its essence, Men of Respect is not a typical crime drama, rather it's a skillful blending of classic literature and the gangster genre. The screenplay and direction artfully remodel Shakespeare's tragedy into a captivating, multilayered tale of power and paranoia amidst the backdrop of organized crime. A must-watch for both fans of gangster films and Shakespeare's works, it offers a unique viewing experience that is both innovative and entertaining, with a powerful narrative that remains engaging from beginning to end.

Men of Respect is a Drama, Action, Crime movie released in 1991. It has a runtime of 113 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 5.5..

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Where can I stream Men of Respect movie online? Men of Respect is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Tubi TV, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Men of Respect for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

William Reilly
John Turturro, Rod Steiger, Katherine Borowitz
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