THE MANACLE by Mario J. Sagola


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A decent little one-room, psycho-suspense encounter--escaping killer vs. Italian dowager-in-a-wheelchair--is jazzed up and ruined by glossy, trendy-sex subplots. Noble, religious, always-cooking Mama Rosa of Little Italy may be a stock character, but she is at least sturdy company--especially when offering highly reluctant sanctuary to the suave, handcuffed, white-collar criminal who just killed her next-door neighbor and a cop. But Sagola isn't satisfied with this reliable duo or the rich Little Italy atmosphere, so he keeps jumping uptown to dwell on Mama's two mixed-up kids: son Freddy, handsome Broadway actor and ""cocksman,"" who opens this very night in his first leading role; and daughter Elizabeth, foxy career gal, who sort of wants to be a nun (""Dead God, I beg, can I do this?"") but somehow always winds up orgying with the East-Side set and is pregnant by proxy for her boss's wife. Any possible tension or verisimilitude in the confrontation at Mama Rosa's is thus destroyed, so it doesn't much matter that everybody's dialogue soon becomes ludicrously florid (""That damned manacle! My mark of Cain! My one damn irrefutable identification!"") or that the action becomes mechanically melodramatic when the whole cast gathers at Mama's. Spaced-out Elizabeth joyfully intends to become the killer's hostage, but non-violent Mama gets trigger-happy. Home style spaghetti sauce goes bad when served in a plastic tureen.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1978
Publisher: Macmillan