During the Christmas season, Mongo (Joe Don Baker) returns home. However, Mongo hasn’t just come back for the holidays. Mongo is professional killer, one of the best in the business. His older brother, mob boss Mike Nash (Charles Cioffi), has a job for him. He wants Mongo to wipe out a rival gangster. Mongo’s willing to do it but he expects to be properly compensated for his trouble. Family is family but Mongo’s a professional and a professional has to get paid. Lt. Pete Tolsted (Telly Savalas) and his partner, Gordon (Martin Sheen), are the two cops who know that Mongo is bad news and who are determined to discover why Mongo is back in town. Meanwhile, Mongo is falling in love with the naive Vicki (a very young Sally Field), a young woman who has fled West Virginia and is looking to restart her life in the big city.
This made-for-TV movie may not contain any huge surprises but it’s worth tracking down just for the cast. Joe Don Baker, Telly Savalas, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field, all in the same movie and all at the top of their considerable game? That’s more than worth the effort. Joe Don Baker, in particular, is good. Unfortunately, Baker doesn’t always get the respect that he deserves an actor. It’s true that he’s appeared in his share of bad films and his range is limited. But whenever he was cast in the right role — like in this movie or the first Walking Tall — he was a force of nature. What’s most interesting about Mongo is that he doesn’t really like his work and he resents that it’s something that he’s been trapped into doing but, at the same time, he’s so good at it that it’s hard not to wonder what other career he could have possibly found as much success in.
Mongo’s Back In Town was released theatrically overseas under the title Steel Wreath. (Maybe someone realized that Mongo’s Back In Town makes the movie sound like a screwball comedy.) It can be viewed, under its original title, on YouTube.