The Dukes

Here's the little movie that could, a potent directing debut for actor Robert Davi, an immortal Bond villain in License to Kill. Davi plays Danny DePasquale, a star in his 20s when he and his chubby-chaser pal George Zucco (Chazz Palminteri, in top form) lead a doo-wop group called the Dukes. Cut ahead a few decades, and the guys are struggling in California, working in an Italian restaurant run by their Aunt Vee (Miriam Margolyes) and hassling their manager a terrific Peter Bogdanovich) to repackage them as an oldies group. Danny and George dream of turning Aunt Vee's trattoria into a doo-wop club. But who has the bucks? So they cook up a heist that defines the term "fool's gold." For all the kickass fun, Davi offers a moving portrait of a man caught in the process of trying to reinvent himself. Davi's scenes with his son (Dominic Scott Kay) and ex-wife (Melora Hardin) cut deep. All this and music too. From the Emeralds doing "Acapella" to Davi himself taking the lead on "So Much in Love," The Dukes is damn near impossible to resist.

From The Archives Issue 143: September 13, 1973