Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the '70s
One of the towering genres of the 1970s was the Italian police thriller, over 250 titles produced over the decade. Following thge decline of the spaghetti Western, Italian genre cinema was literally reborn in its ashes with the Poliziotteschi , also known as poliziottesco or Euro-crime. Inspired in part by American cop movies, the Italian genre clearly took its cues from such films as BULLITT, the DIRTY HARRY series, THE GODFATHER, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, SERPICO, SHAFT and DOG DAY AFTERNOON. At the same time, the Poliziotteschi ripped its ideas right out of the headlines, be it terrorism, corruption, assassinations, the upswing in urban violence or even political scandals like Watergate. Principal among the elements reliably recurring throughout these movies are non-stop violence (smashing, bashing and blazing firearms, cruelty, vengeance and all manner of police brutality, delivered by hardboiled cops without limits) and astounding stunts (white-knuckle car chases and explosions galore). A panapoly of international actors got their feet wet in the genre — John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson, Oliver Reed, David Hemmings, Jack Palance and Robert Blake, among others. The protagonaists they played were often antiheroes, rougue cops or budding sociopaths. A number of films pit the man against the system or the machine, and mafia matters and code-of-honour conumdrums inform quite a few.
Mike Malloy’s doc on the topic makes its case through the testimonies of front-line figures in this cinematic movement, notables like Enzo G. Castellari, Franco Nero, John Saxon, Henry Silva, Antonio Sabato, Luc Merenda, Fred Williamson, Richard Harrison, Christopher Mitchum, Joe Dallesandro, Claudio Fragasso and Mario Caiano. The interviews touch on a wide variety of themes and abound with illuminating anecdotes, while numerous film excerpts back up the film’s convictions and comments. The music, movie snippets, and animation/illustrations charge the documentary with an exciting rhythm and a distinctive style. Curious cinephiles will doubtless be driven to continue the adventures by (re)visiting Enzo G. Castellari’s STREET LAW (1974), THE BIG RACKET (1976) and HEROIN BUSTERS (1977), Umberto Lenzi’s ALMOST HUMAN (1974) and SYNDICATE SADISTS (1975), THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONNALS (1973) by Sergio Martino, Fernando Di Leo’s MILANO CALIBRO 9 (1972) and IL BOSS (1973), and REVOLVER (1973) by Sergio Sollima. (Re)discover this rich, rough and rioutous film genre!
— DJ XL5