Helsinki Napoli All Night Long
Finland/Switzerland/West Germany/Italy 1987
Christa Saredi, Francis von Buren, Mika Kaurismäki (executive), Andreas Bareiss (executive), Bernhard Stampfer (executive) for Villealfa, Mediactuel, Salinas Filmproduktion, Condor Features, Felix Film, Finnkino, Novafilm, Wiz Music
directed by Mika Kaurismäki
starring Kari Väänänen, Roberta Manfredi, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Margi Clarke, Nino Manfredi, Mélanie Robeson, Samuel Fuller, Eddie Constantine, Sakari Kuosmanen, Harry Baer, Gerry Jochum, Katharina Thalbach, Remo Remotti, Ugo Fangareggi, Carlo Hafzalla, Wim Wenders, Werner Masten, Jim Jarmusch, Shaun Lawton, Victor Salin, Gerry Schilschow, Hans Martin Stier, Silvie Ruehl, Eva Curtis, Eric Lee Johnson, Michael Wassmann, Wolfgang Längsfeld, Lene Ludwig, Jürgen von Alten, Danny Rogers
written by Mika Kaurismäki, Richard Reitinger, music by Jacques Zwart
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Alex (Kari Väänänen), a Finnish native, is a taxidriver in Berlin
who works mainly the nightshifts - and since his Italian wife Stella
(Roberta Manfredi) works the taxi company's radios, his biggest worries
are to keep his father-in-law (Nino Mandredi) away from the alcohol and at
home to watch after his baby boys, and to keep his stepdaughter Lilli
(Mélanie Robeson) in line. In all, he doesn't have the greatest life, but
Then one night though, he drives a couple of drugpushers
(Harry Baer, Gerry Jochum) to a seedy nightclub - and they pull a stunt,
try to raid the place, and then try to escape using him as their getaway
car driver. Now that much works out, only that they are shot dead in the
process, and suddenly, Alex finds himself with two dead gangsters on the
backseat, and a suitcase full of money from the raid. Now that's the good
part, the bad part is that the (criminal) boss of the nightclub (Samuel
Fuller) and his two henchmen (Eddie Constantine, Sakari Kuosmanen) are
suddenly on his trail, and that he manages to shake them time and again is
only due to the fact that they are a bit on the incompetent side, while he
relies on the help of his working class friends, like dockworker Igor
(Jean-Pierre Castaldi) or the weapons-crazy friendly neighbourhood gas
station attendant. Still, he has two corpses in his back - which is where
dad-in-law with his (possibly fictional) mob connections comes in handy.
And that he has been drinking behind Alex's back comes as a blessing this
time around, so he doesn't ask too many questions ...
When Alex tells
Stella about the money though, she urges him to take it to the police or
at least get rid of it - which Alex tries but just can't, the lure is too
Meanwhile, the gangsters do get one thing right, Alex's identity,
so they kidnap Lilli and his twins - which drives Alex to despair.
However, the gangsters are not happy with their hostages, because the
twins need constant attention and need to be changed, while Lilli manages
to slip away at the first possibility to alarm Alex. Ultimately, the
tables are turned, and Alex (who has managed to trade in his cab for a
truck) chases the gangsters - and not only him, either but all of Berlin's
Once the gangsters are cornered, they agree to broker a
deal, also because they desperately want to get rid of the twins - and
they even get their money back ... but dad-in-law sees to it that they and
their car ultimately land in the river.
Helsinki Napoli -
All Night Long is a likeable genre comedy, likeable especially because
it's a really unusual genre movie, starting with its very un-heroic lead
characters, it's atypical situations (like gangsters changing diapers),
and its very amusing car chases. Now add to this a very relaxed tone, a
laconic brand of humour, a very unexcited directorial style (which doesn't
mean the film isn't well-paced, because it is) and a great cast - and
you're left with a very good movie, no less.