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Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the 70’s.

****
2012

‘Malloy’s film works for hardcore fans, but also should function as a taster for novices; there’s enough tantalising clips and stories to spark interest in the toughest genre of films ever made.’

That’s a very long title, and this is a long documentary from Mike Malloy, but for once, that high level of detail is for the best. If there’s one genre that’s completely underrated, it’s Poliziotteschi, hard-bitten, hard-drivin’ oddly-dubbed Italian exploitation films that followed in the shadow of The Godfather, The French Connection and Dirty Harry. I asked the head of a UK film festival about a potential screening, and the reply was a curt …’these films have no artistic or cultural value.’

In retrospect, I should have grabbed him by the lapels, pulled him into the street, and dragged him through the streets dangling on the back of my motorbike. These films really do have merit, with Tarantino amongst those who pay tribute to these unknown action classics, and now streaming has brought a few films out of the vault and into our living rooms. I love writing about these films, because they’re good, yes, but also because most film buffs know nothing about them, and it’s also ways a pleasure to make an introduction. I love the Inspector Betti Trilogy starring the late, great Maurizio Merli, the Violent Rome/Naples films and others; I’m a genuine enthusiast who thought he knew his stuff until Eurocrime! popped up on my radar.

With hundreds of films in the genre, Eurocrime is quite a refresher course in the classics, but also features detailed examination of dozens of films that I’ve never heard of, and neither have you. With over two hours to play with, Malloy does a great job of examining the rise and fall of the Poliziotteschi i, but also takes the time to look at the political background, with the kidnapping of Aldo Moro a key event; you might feel we’re living in a turbulent time, but finding the prime minister’s dead body in the back of a car is a different level of political instability.

Fresh interviews with imported stars John Saxon, Franco Nero, Fred Williamson, Henry Silva and a very casually dressed Antonio Sabato are a pleasure, and there’s anecdotal delights for those searching for granular detail. Malloy’s film works for hardcore fans, but also should function as a taster for novices; there’s enough tantalising clips and stories to spark interest in the toughest genre of films ever made.

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  1. Definitely right up my street. A lot of these Italian crime pictures turned up in double bills during the 70s and were great fun and consistently under-rated. Italian pictures were to comprise Visconti, Fellini, Antonioni etc. it was as if no one wanted to own up to the more commercial stuff that Italian audiences lapped up.

  2. You watch and review them, I’ll read the reviews.

    As for that valued member of society, what would you have done if he’d clubbed you on the head in return and dragged YOU behind his motorbike?

  3. YES now you’re talking.
    westerns, horror, crime . . . I only haven’t watched much Italian romance. Need to find. Youtube’s Italian Spiderman is great as well. 🙂

    • There’s a lovely heat haze in many of these films because they use real sunlight and locations.

          • Interesting. i was thinking about some of the films set in Italy or made with Italian money that I’ve reviewed and it’s interesting how this method of sound recording – which is a lot cheaper – has always been treated with some contempt in Hollywood. But it does help with location shoots and as Fellini once said, the actors create their performances in the dubbing studio.

            • For action movies, I think it’s great; minimal crew, emphasis on great visuals, maybe the dubbing puts off some, but there’s plenty of plusses….

  4. These movies are much like any other genre. There are some gems (Caliber 9 is one of my favourites) but a lot of total trash. Same with gialli.
    All the interviewees seem casually dressed. They may have been taking their cue from that sheet handing behind them as dressing.

    • Sabato’s ensemble takes the biscuit. Milan Calibre 9 is certainly a belter, but there’s certainly a few real great nuggets to discover. And even the trash is amusing…

    • Yes, I binged on them during the VHS days, the 5 vids for 5 bucks days. A LOT were junk. And Caliber 9 is one of the great ones of the genre, though.

      • I was fortunate that Caliber 9 was one of the first I saw. And it’s one genre where even the dross can be fun to sift through…

        • Oh, yes. And Giallo. I love watching them, no matter the quality. And the more absurd, the better!

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