PLOT: A comprehensive look at the Italian cops & robbers films, aka- poliziotteschi that ruled European cinemas in the seventies.
REVIEW: Iíve always had a thing for Eurocrime action flicks. An offshoot of both Spaghetti Westerns, and American cop flicks like DIRTY HARRY, BULLIT & THE FRENCH CONNECTION, the Italians- who, up until the late-eighties, were always game to exploit a trend- knew how to do them well. The films were often un-polished, and in some cases quite bad, but even the worst Eurocrime outing had at least some high voltage action- especially when it came to car chases that resembled demolition derbies. As for the violence- itís was ramped up to such an extreme level that many distributors sold these as horror flicks on the grindhouse circuit (the genre also frequently crossed over into giallo territory).
For EUROCRIME! THE ITALIAN COP AND GANGSTER FILMS THAT RULED THE SEVENTIES, director Mike Malloy obviously did his homework in regards to this mostly obscure genre. Everything you could possibly want to know about the genre in examined here- from its beginnings as the offshoot of spaghetti westerns, to itís heyday, to the inevitable decline- itís all here.
Employing a generous amount of film footage, and terrific interviews with many of the surviving poliziotteschi players (including Franco Nero, Henry Silva, Chris Mitchum, John Saxon, and more)- EUROCRIME, despite running a lengthy 2 hours +, is the kind of thing you wonít want to end. Before seeing this, I thought I knew a lot about the genre, but Malloyís film has proved that I donít know squat. By the time the credits rolled, I was furiously scribbling down titles to look up- and too my delight, I quickly realized that Iíve only just scratched the surface of this killer genre.
Despite being an admitted fan (according to his IMDB page, Malloy seems to be working on his own poliziotteschi), Malloy takes a balanced look at the genre. His interviews are surprisingly meaty, but happily most of the participants seem game enough to explore both the highs and lows of the genre. From Richard Harrison to Fred Williamson- to an octogenarian Henry Silva (whoís still a badass), everyone tells some pretty amazing stories here. That said, even when the films were bad, they were still pretty good, and even if the work was compromised, everyone here seemed to have a blast tearing up film sets in Italy. No wonder they were able to entice Hollywood heavyweights like Yul Brynner, Kirk Douglas, Roger Moore, Stacy Keach, and Harvey Keitel to make their own Eurocrime entries.
While all the interviews are great, I got a particular jolt out of seeing Franco Nero go on record about these films .At seventy-one, Nero looks like he could still be making eurocrime flicks if the right director came along- and he seems to be having the time of his life revisiting his glory days, when he (and his clone, the late Maurizio Merli) ruled this genre. Still, Nero weathered the transition to other genres better than most- except maybe Williamson, who jumped right into the ROAD WARRIOR-clones, such as BRONX WARRIORS (and in his modern interview, seems to have somehow stopped aging in the last thirty years).
Heck, even if you donít know a thing about the genre, EUROCRIME is still well worth checking out. It reminds me a bit of the great Aussie-sploitation doc from a few years ago, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. Like that film, this will open your eyes to a lot of great, under the radar crime flicks- that may lack polish, but were nonetheless made with skill and creativity. The same can be said about this engaging and thoroughly entertaining doc.