Goodbye & Amen (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Review Date: May 09, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Goodbye & Amen (Blu-ray Review)


Damiano Damiani

Release Date(s)

1977 (February 13, 2024)


Capital Film/Rizzoli Film (Radiance Films)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A-

Goodbye & Amen (Blu-ray)

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Despite its meaningless title, Goodbye & Amen (1977) is an effectively offbeat Italian thriller. Its unusual plot takes several unexpected sharp turns and, for a change, it’s unclear what it’s all leading up to, though attentive viewers will be able to figure out ahead of time how its intricate story will resolve itself. Overall, it’s a well-made, even handsome production with especially good cinematography (by Luigi Kuveiller) and underscoring (by Guido and Maurizio de Angelis).

In Rome, CIA agent John Dannahay (Tony Musante), working out of the American embassy, is about to implement a plot to overthrow the government of an unnamed African nation, making it appear an internal coup d’état. His job on the line after a failed previous mission, Dannahay is determined to see this through no matter, even when there appears to be a mole in their midst, an American diplomat named Lambert, and the mission is on the verge of being called off.

From here the plot abruptly shifts in an entirely different direction. Soon after Dannahay learns that Lambert has left his wife and son for a mistress, Lambert seemingly loses his mind, and begins randomly shooting people from the roof of the Rome Hilton hotel, or maybe it’s some kind of deliberate move by Lambert to thwart the African mission. The man (John Steiner) then barricades himself in a hotel suite where Aliki (Claudia Cardinale) is staying with her lover, Italian movie actor Parenti (Renzo Palmer). When Lambert’s rifle case is discovered, Italian police contact the embassy.

Aliki keeps her cool throughout the ordeal, but boy-toy Parenti is revealed as a sniveling coward. Meanwhile, the hostage-taker demands an in-person meeting with the American Ambassador (John Forsythe).

(Mild spoilers) The picture seems to have been at least partly inspired by Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Steiner’s madman showing more resourcefulness than Al Pacino’s inept bank robber. He demands boxes and boxes of cornflakes which he then has Cardinale’s hostage empty just outside the hotel suite, their crunching sound altering him of approaching policemen. Dog Day’s failed attempt of reaching a getaway plane still fresh in audiences’ minds, Steiner’s character—having himself and all his hostages wear identical black raincoats and motorcycle helmets with all holding pistols (only his is loaded) while trying to reach a getaway helicopter—is almost ingenious at times.

Director Damiani was considered both a regista impegnato (political-engaged director) but also the “most American” of Italian filmmakers, both assertions supported here. The film was probably not expensive to make but has a Hollywood slickness usually lacking in Italian-made crime films from this period. At the same time there’s an interesting undercurrent running through the film, of American CIA brazenly operating in Italy virtually unopposed, overthrowing governments with impunity, and generally working outside international law. In this sense, Musante’s single-minded, hot-headed operative who has no empathy for the dead or the lives of the hostages plays well here.

The picture has its share of flaws, such as the fact that Cardinale’s character disappears entirely about 20 minutes before the film ends, never to be heard from again. We don’t even get to see her reactions to how the kidnapping drama ends. Mostly, though, Goodbye & Amen is way above average.

Radiance’s Blu-ray offers a 2023 restoration of the original, longer (109 minutes) Italian theatrical version, drawn from the original camera negative and presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen format. The image is impressive throughout, sharp with excellent color and contrast, while the LPCM uncompressed mono audio is strong for what it is. A shorter, 102-minute English-language export version is also offered, but the label advises viewers to stick with the Italian cut, as the English tracks were severely damaged, beyond repair. New and improved English subtitles enhance the presentation, and while the native-English speakers are obviously dubbed by others, it’s clearly Cardinale’s voice on the Italian track. Region “A” and “B” encoded.

Supplements consist of a new audio commentary track with Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger; a new interview with editor Antonio Siciliano (39 minutes); a 2013 interview with actor Wolfango Soldati (24 minutes), and a 19-page full-color booklet featuring an excellent essay about the film by Lucia Rinaldi.

Though hardly a lost classic of Italian cinema, Goodbye & Amen is quite enjoyable and satisfyingly unpredictable most of the time. Worthwhile.

- Stuart Galbraith IV