Controversial singer-songwriter Franco Califano takes his tough, no nonsense persona to the big screen in one of his few starring roles as the man with the Gardenia, a restaurant owner who is not afraid to stand up to ...展开the mob. It's little wonder that every woman in the film swoons and sighs at the sight of him and all men, even the baddies, are awestruck at his appearance. Not that they show him constant respecto, if that were the case we wouldn't have much of a picture.
Although Califano does not get to sing any of his songs all the way through during the picture, he did provide the musical score which borrows equally from Shaft and Spagetti westerns. He probably also had a hand in writing the tunes the blues lady croons at his Mayfair restaurant. Two American gangster types, Martin Balsam and Robert Webber (here named Salluzzo and Caruso) team up to force Gardenia to pay them a share of his income, but the mighty G refuses.
Along with a circle of friends (including big boned Fraco Diogene) the man with the gardenia in his lapel takes revenge when they blow up his kitchen (and his favorite cook). He overhears Salluzzo's plans to rob a bank and goes there first. He wins the right to remain in town by beating Salluzzo at a high stake game of pool and even though Salluzzo's mistress Miriam (the impressive Licinia Lentini) throws herself in with the bargain, Gardenia refuses. And all that after his live in lover Regina (hot tamale Eleonora Vallone) leaves him.
But really, Salluzzo never had a chance against Gardenia, not even on his own turf, for the G-man never misses a single hole (he really should have had his own theme tune that summed up all his best traits). There are some violent scenes in the picture, but whenever there is blood on anyone's faces, it is of the bright red Hammer horror/Spagetti western type and there is usually a joke or a James Bond quip to lighten the situation immediately afterward. Gardenia himself likes to rattle of Chinese proverbs all over the place and his closest confident is a white pussycat. For even the animals adore that man. After all, he is Gardenia.