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.