Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers (1973–1977)
The 1970s were a time of intense uncertainty and instability in Italy. Political corruption and widespread acts of left and right-wing terrorism, alongside a breakdown in social cohesion and a loss of trust in public institutions such as the government and police, created a febrile atmosphere of cynicism, paranoia and unexploded rage. Throughout this period, these sentiments found expression in a series of brutal, often morally ambiguous crime thrillers which tapped into the atmosphere of violence and instability that defined the so-called Years of Lead.
This box set gathers five films from the heyday of the “poliziotteschi” – the umbrella term used to describe this diverse body of films. In Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975) and Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), random acts of violence committed by vicious young sociopaths threaten the fragile fabric of respectable society. In Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976) and Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977), renegade cops battling against red tape and political corruption turn to new and morally dubious methods to dispense justice. Finally, class dynamics are explored in Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973) as an innocent man finds himself under suspicion for a savage crime committed by a highly respected member of society.
Decried by critics for their supposedly fascistic overtones, the poliziotteschi were in fact more ideologically varied and often considerably more nuanced than such superficial readings would suggest, and proved a huge hit with theatergoers, who responded to their articulation of present-day social concerns. Featuring an impressive line-up of Euro-cult stars, including Joe Dallesandro (The Climber), Ivan Rassimov (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Maurizio Merli (Violent City) and Enrico Maria Salerno (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), this collection of stylish, hard-hitting Euro-crime thrillers showcases the range and breadth of the genre and is a must-have for newcomers and grizzled veterans alike.
1975 • Italy • Directed by Vittorio Salerno
By day, Ovidio (Joe Dallesandro, The Climber) and his two friends work at a data center. After work, they blow off steam by committing random acts of savage violence, swiftly graduating from sparking a riot at a football game to vehicle theft, rape and...
Like Rabid Dogs
1976 • Italy • Directed by Mario Imperoli
Three wealthy youths – ringleader Tony (Cesare Barro, Violence for Kicks) and his friends Rico (Luis La Torre, Evil Eye) and Silvia (Annarita Grapputo, Magnum Cop) – get their kicks from committing a series of random thefts and murders. Commissario Muzi ...
Colt 38 Special Squad
1976 • Italy • Directed by Massimo Dallamano
The city of Turin is in the grip of a brutal crime boss known as “the Marseillaise” (Ivan Rassimov, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), and plenty of cops have good reason to want him dead – none more than Inspector Vanni (Marcel Boz...
1977 • Italy • Directed by Stelvio Massi
Devil-may-care driving ace Marco Palma (Maurizio Merli, Violent City) of the Rome police’s Mobile Squad has a reputation for risk-taking – making him the perfect candidate for an undercover op to take down “Il Nizzardo” (Angelo Infanti, The Godfather), a ...
No, The Case Is Happily Resolved
1973 • Italy • Directed by Vittorio Salerno
While out fishing at a tranquil lakeside one peaceful afternoon, Fabio Santamaria (Enzo Cerusico, Blood and Black Lace) inadvertently witnesses the brutal murder of a young woman. Terrified that he too will be targeted by the maniac, Fabio resolves to ...