21st Jul2017

‘Eurocrime!’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Featuring: John Saxon, Franco Nero, Henry Silva, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Leonard Mann, Richard Harrison | Written and Directed by Mike Malloy

eurocrime-dvd

Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s, to give the film it’s full title, is a welcome and affectionate look at the Italian poliziotteschi films of the 1970s, films such as High Crime, Milano Calibro 9, Street Law and Napoli Violenta which, whilst heavily influenced by 70s US cop and gangster films like Dirty Harry and The Godfather, also touched upon real Italian issues – the Sicilian Mafia and the Red Brigade – and amped up the sex and violence to often ridiculous levels.

Those film fans familiar with Italian genre cinema will know that Italian cinema has a reputation of hitching itself to the nearest bandwagon and bleeding it dry. If Italian filmmakers could find a fad that people liked they’d stick with it. From the Ben Hur inspired Peplum (sword and sandal) flicks of the late 50s/early 60s, to what many consider to be Italy’s greatest cinematic contribution – the Spaghetti Western. A genre that became synonymous with Italy, the spaghetti western ruled the Italian cinema from the 60s through to the early 70s, with many films often ripping-off plots and characters (and often featuring the same actors!) from both American and Italian-produced genre films. However by the 70s the western was dying a death – too many films with not enough good scripts to go around. A new cinematic fad was needed. The early 70s, and Hollywood began producing a wave of crime thrillers that included The French Connection (1971), Dirty Harry (1971) and The Godfather (1972), and that was all it took for poliziotteschi cinema to be born…

Featuring talking heads with some of the most iconic names in Italian cinema, such as Enzo G. Casterllari, Claudio Fragasso, Franco Nero and Antonio Sabato, along with many of the American actors who appeared in poliziotteschi films – Henry Silva, John Saxon and Fred Williamson included – Eurocrime! is a fascinating insight into the poliziotteschi genre and is obviously a labour of love for writer/director Mike Malloy.

Poliziotteschi cinema was, and still is, one of the more niche aspects of Italy’s cinematic output. Whereas spaghetti westerns were often exported around the world, only a small number of poliziotteschi films produced were ever “hits” overseas, so to create a documentary around such a niche subject was, for all intents and purposes, a gamble. Thankfully Eurocrime! is filled with fascinating stories and anecdotes fro those involved – from the involvement of the Italian mafia to the ridiculous shooting schedules and the guerilla nature of poliziotteschi filmmaking – which hold your attention and offer some of the greatest insights into behind the scenes of the Italian filmmaking process.

A welcome addition to the genre, Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s transcends the niche genre it represents and is an essential watch, offering something for film fans everywhere, no matter their knowledge of poliziotteschi films.

This DVD from Nucleus Films is packed (and I mean packed) with extras, including a 100 minute “Ultimate Poliziotteschi” trailer compilation; the theatrical trailer; two features: Yankee Doodle Tanzi: Some Outtakes on Ethnicity and Nationality and Hairy Hunchback Trash: The Italian Crime-Comedy Roles of Tomas Milian; plus some deleted scenes.

Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s is released by Nucleus Films on July 24th.

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