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: ITALIAN CRIME FILMS: An Overview & Reviews  ( 70064 )
The Firecracker
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« #210 : December 18, 2009, 02:53:40 PM »

Spencer and Nero are in an upcoming Euro Crime film titled Mafia.
I don't know if it's a comedy.




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« #211 : December 20, 2009, 06:52:53 AM »

Spencer and Nero are in an upcoming Euro Crime film titled Mafia.
I don't know if it's a comedy.

It's probably serious as Spencer must now be way too old for the fisticuffs/slapstick stuff. Anyway i'll be very interested to see this.

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« #212 : December 20, 2009, 09:36:02 AM »

I don't think, at his age, he'd be obligated to do anything physical. Even if it is a comedy.
Seems like they'd use him for marquee value.




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« #213 : April 19, 2010, 09:00:45 AM »

LA BANDA DEL GOBBO 1976- aka THE BAND & THE HUNCHBACK (literal translation) aka BROTHERS TILL WE DIE

Tomas Milian (dual role as Vincenzo & Monnezza), Nino Pazzafini, Sal Borgese

Vincenzo, a hunchback, plans a robbery of an armored police van with his gang. Once the job is pulled, his gang attempt to kill him and the band absconds with the loot. Vincenzo hides in the sewers before looking up his loony friend Monezza whom the police later interrogate for his involvement with vincenzo. Meanwhile, Vincenzo goes about getting revenge on his gang by knocking them off one at the time in various brutal fashion. He locks one in a freezer, lures Borgese away before putting a big hole in his head and greets one of them in the dentist office and performs some surgery with a big drill among other things.

The movie is very different from Lenzi's other cop movies. Humor is prevalent here often times somewhat dark. Milian owns this movie and is apparently playing characters from previous movies. Monnezza from LA BANDA DEL TRUCIDA and Vincenzo I assume from ROMA A MANO ARMATA. I do not speak Italian but understand some of it. Some of the scenes are quite humorous what I could make out. One involves Monnezza scarfing down lots of marijiuana as the police close in. He is taken into custody and upon being taken into an interrogation room, he sees a hippy and assumes it's Jesus come to take him away. There is even a line referring to a Claudia Cardinale movie!

It would be really interesting to know everything that is being said, but from what I gathered, some of the humor would be lost in translation. Another funny bit involves Monnezza inside a mental institution.

As a movie, the film is very average. There is very little action and in these scenes it would appear that Lenzi had little to no time to pull off convincing set pieces. The sole reason to watch is of course Milian. And not just one Milian performance but two. Also, it is most unusual to see a Lenzi Crime movie, much less a Lenzi movie period that features very little violence and what there is is often times offscreen anyways. The final battle between the crooks and the police is done well enough to make up for the shortcomings in the other brief action bits. The final scene with Vincenzo escaping on a bridge only to have a black cat cross his path proves hauntingly poetic.

This DVD from Federal Video is very good quality and the film has obviously been remastered. Recommended only for Milian's double performance and those that don't mind watching a movie in which they cannot totally understand the language.

La banda del gobbo (1978)

Yeah, far from a crime masterpiece, but then again a thoroughly likeable naivete. Hardly Lenzi's finest hour; basic filming locations, cheap sets, etc. Couple of good car chasing moments there. Tomas Milian very good and fun to watch, the rest of the cast also. The often dark humor is really its greatest asset, rude too on more than one occasion. I don't think the traduction would work in this case, at all.


6.75/10




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« #214 : April 19, 2010, 05:40:09 PM »

I have an English dubbed version of that movie now. I think it's one of those films that speaks more to Italian sensibilities, or ones more familiar with the cultural differences. There are several other movies where Milian plays both of these characters so he was apparently quite popular as Monezza. These other films are moderately better.



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« #215 : April 19, 2010, 05:48:53 PM »

For anyone interested, I completely redid the Overview from scratch as I don't like the one at the start of this thread. Here are the first three chapters of the new one with the fourth coming soon....

The first chapter is on the political crime films and there relation to the times...

http://www.coolasscinema.com/search/label/Italian%20Crime%20Cinema%20Overview%20Part%20One


The second continues with the political crime films, there connection to actual violence in the cities and segues into the Mafia movies....

http://www.coolasscinema.com/search/label/Italian%20Crime%20Cinema%20Overview%20Part%20Two


The third continues with the Mafia movies with a spotlight on Di Leo's first trilogy and segues into the Violent Cop style of film...

http://www.coolasscinema.com/search/label/Italian%20Crime%20Cinema%20Overview%20Part%20Three


Then a bunch of reviews with lots of pics....

http://www.coolasscinema.com/search/label/Italian%20Crime%20Movies


And then just Merli reviews by themselves. I think there's five of his here so far including some of the lesser discussed ones....

http://www.coolasscinema.com/search/label/Maurizio%20Merli


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« #216 : April 19, 2010, 10:22:21 PM »

I have an English dubbed version of that movie now. I think it's one of those films that speaks more to Italian sensibilities, or ones more familiar with the cultural differences. There are several other movies where Milian plays both of these characters so he was apparently quite popular as Monezza. These other films are moderately better.

Well it's certainly funnier, but it doesn't really add to the complexity of the movie that much, if that's what you thought. The fact is there is no story behind, and the main hit in the beginning is as lame as it gets. The rest of the movie runs on jokes and Milian, on certain occasions you can literally bite the pointlessness (yeah, I'm talking 'bout the scene in the disco).

This is the only one in the series I've seen. I've noticed his character (Monnezza) is slightly uneven and at times not well defined. I might check them out if I get the chance.

« : April 19, 2010, 10:23:25 PM Dust Devil »



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« #217 : May 08, 2010, 07:20:29 PM »

MILANO ROVENTE 1973- aka GANG WAR IN MILAN

Antonio Sabato, Phillippe Leroy, Antonio Casagrande, Marisa Mell

Toto Cangemi (Sabato) is a wealthy crime lord who is behind Milan's biggest prostitute ring. The police cannot touch him but lie in wait for him to make just one mistake. Enter Le Capitaine, the Frenchman (Leroy) and a big time dealer in drugs who wants to form an alliance with Cangemi...whether he wants to or not. The Frenchman tries to force Cangemi's hand resulting in Toto bringing in an American gangster, Billy Baroni to take care of the Frenchman. Baroni tries to convince Cangemi that violence is not the answer but "diplomatic violence" will solve the problems. Several of Cangemi's hookers are found murdered but after Le Capitaine kidnaps and tortures Lino, Cangemi's right hand man (in a very excrutiating fashion) Baroni devises a plan to bring "final peace" between all the gangsters.

Umberto Lenzi's first foray into Euro Crime shows an adeptness for the material that is not as prominent in some of his later efforts which is not discounting any of those at all. Here, Lenzi appears to be channeling di Leo in style although the violence is more sleazy than in any of di Leo's films I have seen. There is a lot of torture in this movie and Lenzi proved throughout his career to be a master at depicting sadism onscreen. The double twist ending is slightly reminiscent of the one in di Leo's classic MILANO CALIBRO 9. It features a foreboding final line that hints at more violence lies ahead.

Sabato is very good here. Much better than anything else I've seen him in. He really plays the part well and reminds me of Mario Adorf's performance in LA MALA ODIA (1972). He is a criminal in every sense of the word, but at times, you get the feeling that a decent man resides within him. Coming from nothing, living in the streets then becoming a powerful crime figure he doesn't exhibit the nasty and brutally persistant methods of the Frenchman. Sabato displays genuine concern when his close friend Lino is captured and viciously tortured by the Frenchman and his henchmen.

Sabato also played a cop in Sergio Grieco's supremely nasty VIOLENCE FOR KICKS (1975). And only Grieco could make his good guy come off as a greasy unlikeable thug or just plain unlikeable as in Richard Harrison's character in Grieco's BEAST WITH A GUN (1977).

Phillippe Leroy who also starred as a maniacal cop in the same years BLOODY HANDS OF THE LAW (also starring Kinski), is all the while calm but incredibly ruthless when the need arises. Leroy is quite subdued here as opposed to his manic performance in the above mentioned film.

Casagrande as Baroni is what you would expect a stereotypical American gangster to look like. He has a scar under his left eye and smokes huge cigars. He also pulls the strings of Cangemi's organization. When Toto acts on impulse, Baroni is there to keep him under control only this plays against Toto later in the film.

Marisa Mell as Jasmine is as alluring as ever as Cangemi's woman whom he falls head over heels for. Amazingly, this being a Lenzi movie, she being the main female character, she escapes any indignities towards her character.

The finale is VERY similar to HK director Chang Cheh's style along with its themes of brotherhood among men whether they be good or bad.

Again, a fine first outing for Lenzi. Initially I had put off buying this because there wasn't a Merli or Milian in the film but after seeing it, this no longer matters.

This release from Dagored is in Italian with English subtitles and appears to be sourced from video tape. The packaging is very nice but the film presentation reeks of bootleg. No matter, the print is decent enough and it least it's available.


Milano rovente (1973)

Yeah this compared to La banda del gobbo tastes much more like the work of a professional and expert on the subject, without the low budget, we're-going-camping, indie-amateur feel. There's no Tomas Milian but the constellation of rough-looking mean hillbillies compensates this and makes it look much more authentic. Solid poliziottesco with some hard-boiled la European moments.


7.2/10

« : May 08, 2010, 07:21:37 PM Dust Devil »



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« #218 : May 08, 2010, 07:24:47 PM »

One thing I particularly like in these movies is that filthy whores really do look like filthy whores.

« : May 08, 2010, 07:26:14 PM Dust Devil »



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« #219 : May 09, 2010, 09:17:31 PM »

Well it's certainly funnier, but it doesn't really add to the complexity of the movie that much, if that's what you thought. The fact is there is no story behind, and the main hit in the beginning is as lame as it gets. The rest of the movie runs on jokes and Milian, on certain occasions you can literally bite the pointlessness (yeah, I'm talking 'bout the scene in the disco).

This is the only one in the series I've seen. I've noticed his character (Monnezza) is slightly uneven and at times not well defined. I might check them out if I get the chance.

FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP (1976) and DESTRUCTION FORCE (1977) are two others where he plays the 'Trash' character. I believe he plays this character in some of his comedy cop flicks. I have two or three of those, but have only seen the first (COP IN BLUE JEANS) thus far.


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« #220 : May 09, 2010, 09:19:58 PM »

Milano rovente (1973)

Yeah this compared to La banda del gobbo tastes much more like the work of a professional and expert on the subject, without the low budget, we're-going-camping, indie-amateur feel. There's no Tomas Milian but the constellation of rough-looking mean hillbillies compensates this and makes it look much more authentic. Solid poliziottesco with some hard-boiled la European moments.


7.2/10

Lenzi was an ace at this genre. Some of best work, in my opinion. He was at his sleaziest with some of his Calabresi inspired 'Violent Cop' thrillers.


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« #221 : August 10, 2010, 12:57:24 PM »

Il commissario di ferro I've finally found the guts to watch this movie and I must say that it was better of what I expected, which was nil. The plot is very simple and that helps. What it's not working in my opinion (apart from some stupid plot turns which maybe can be caught only from Italian viewers, like the detention waiting for trial which, at the time, made sound 2 years in that condition like something extraordinary: now is much worse. Or the shot in the Police station, with all the policemen being satisfied with their colleague's explanation that the shot was fired by mistake) is Maurizio Merli: I couldn't understand at the time (and now even more) how he could be taken seriously on this role. His only distinctive traits are the blonde hair and the blue eyes. But he can't act, he's not good in the fight scenes and is not impressive physically. Bah...6\10       


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« #222 : August 10, 2010, 06:27:44 PM »

Il commissario di ferro I've finally found the guts to watch this movie and I must say that it was better of what I expected, which was nil. The plot is very simple and that helps. What it's not working in my opinion (apart from some stupid plot turns which maybe can be caught only from Italian viewers, like the detention waiting for trial which, at the time, made sound 2 years in that condition like something extraordinary: now is much worse. Or the shot in the Police station, with all the policemen being satisfied with their colleague's explanation that the shot was fired by mistake) is Maurizio Merli: I couldn't understand at the time (and now even more) how he could be taken seriously on this role. His only distinctive traits are the blonde hair and the blue eyes. But he can't act, he's not good in the fight scenes and is not impressive physically. Bah...6\10       

This isn't one of his better movies, but the title itself is ironic in light of Merli's character. He is supposed to be this "Iron Commissioner" of the title, and yet, as the film progresses, he becomes weak after his son is kidnapped. Sadly, the production ran out of money at the end resulting in the abrupt finale. I'd be curious to hear what you thought of such later films like POLIZIOTTO, SOLITUDINE E RABBIA (1980) and SBIRRO, LA TUA LEGGE E LENTA...LA MIA NO!

Both of those are departures for the actor and the former especially allows him to emote on a level unlike his previous movies. In this film, Merli is a retired cop who infiltrates a secret society of international assassins responsible for the deaths of a number of wealthy entrepreneurs. Interestingly, there's an assassination in this movie that seems to be modeled on the Calabresi shooting from the early 70's.

The latter is a fascinating and convoluted political thriller wherein Merli secretly works with a mobster (Francisco Rabal) in an effort to solve a number of assassinations of property owners. The prime suspect being Mario Merola, the ending was pretty shocking and perfectly captures the title of the film. One of my favorites with him is PAURA IN CITTA (1976), a sequel to LA POLIZIA INTERVIENE: ORDINE DI UCCIDERE and a typical revenge film with one of the best dialog exchanges I've ever heard in one of these movies.


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« #223 : August 11, 2010, 12:25:16 AM »

but the title itself is ironic in light of Merli's character. He is supposed to be this "Iron Commissioner" of the title, and yet, as the film progresses, he becomes weak after his son is kidnapped. 

Yeah, he only hi-jacks a train then a car and about punches to death the kidnapper.


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« #224 : August 11, 2010, 07:37:31 PM »

What I meant is his character has something of a breakdown after his child is taken. He is not the stern, controlled policeman from earlier in the movie.


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