Join us as we explore the wild and offbeat cinema that played the roadshows, drive-ins and grindhouses.
Ciao bambini! "Poliziotteschi"is the Italian subgenre of crime/action cinema that became popular in the 1970s. Regular components featured in these films included: over the top violence, car/motorcycle chases, heists and shootouts. The subgenre's plots and stories usually involved police procedurals and mafia wars, as well as political corruption within Italy's big cities like Naples, Milan, Torino and Rome. These exciting crime genre films also filled the void left following the decline of the Spaghetti Westerns. The polizios were largely influenced by popular Hollywood crime movies of the day such as Bullitt, Dirty Harry, The French Connection, Serpico and The Godfather. This lucky 13th installment in our History of Exploitation Film series is dedicated to the outrageous, ultra-violent world of 70's Italian Crime Cinema!
Fernando DiLeo's MILANO CALIBRO 9 (1972) focuses on an ex-con named Ugo Piazza (The Godfather II's Gastone Moschin) who has just been released from jail. His fellow mafia members led by the loudmouth tough guy Rocco (Mario Adorf) are waiting for him. It seems that Milan mob boss Marcado (Lionel Stander) and everyone in his "family" think he stole $300,000 of their money before being imprisoned but Ugo flatly denies it at every prodding or beating by Rocco and his men. For fans of Spaghetti Westerns you'll notice several familiar faces including Lionel Stander (Once Upon a Time in The West) as well as Luigi Pistilli (The Good the Bad and the Ugly) and Frank Wolff (The Great Silence). The score is another knockout by Luis Enriquez Bacalov & pop group Osanna.
Inspired by the hit American TV show Starsky and Hutch, Ruggero Deodato's LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE MAN (1976) stars Ray Lovelock and Marc Porel as two young reckless cops assigned to a special unit that targets the really vicious criminals in the city. They are basically free to do things the way they want to get the bad guys, and believe me, they do. These fellas make Dirty Harry look like an angel. It's easily one of the best polizios of the 70s. It was based on a screenplay by Fernando DiLeo originally titled Poliziotti si nasce poliziotti si muore (Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Cop). This film was director Deodato's only effort in the poliziotteschi genre and is one of the best.
Umberto Lenzi's THE TOUGH ONES (1976) stars the blonde, mustachioed Maurizio Merli (Convoy Busters) as Inspector Leonardo Tanzi, who is clearly patterned after Clint Eastwood's renegade cop Dirty Harry. Tanzi, like Callahan, is a guy that can see that the criminal world is running amok and needs to be cleaned up by any means necessary. Tanzi knows that the only way to stop crime is to fight fire with fire. He begins as a rather calm, collected lawman but as the story progresses, he gets more and more violent and unruly. The criminals in the film are EVERYWHERE like cockroaches and Tanzi seems to be the only one in exterminator mode. The Tough Ones really is a cinematic smorgasbord of action delights that will hold you in its grip the entire running time.
Mario Bava was known as the master of gothic horror and giallo cinema but one of his last films was a highly intense crime movie we love. In KIDNAPPED (filmed in 1973) a gang of psychotic degenerate criminals (Maurice Poli, Aldo Caponi, Luigi Montefori) who have just robbed an armored truck and killed several people in the process, kidnap a woman and force a man to drive them out of the city. This kicks off a highly volatile road thriller filled with ever increasing tension and sicko violence. Due to legal troubles, the film wasn't seen for decades but was finally released on home video in the late 90s. It delivers on all levels a polizio should! Also known as Rabid Dogs (alternate cut).
Click pic for our TOP 20 POLIZIO CLASSICS
In Umberto Lenzi's ALMOST HUMAN (1974) a bank job ends up getting botched due to one of its members, Giulio (Tomas Milian) killing a cop, so the gang dumps him but not before beating him for his recklessness. Humiliated, he moves on trying to find other ways to make a quick buck. Upon visiting his girlfriend at work, he hatches a plan to kidnap her boss' daughter for ransom along with a couple of his hangers-on who seem to really look up to this psychopath. The kidnapping takes place easily enough, with the daughter trying to have a private moment with her boyfriend in an open field. They swoop in and take her, but not without killing the boyfriend. Thus starts the one-upmanship game where Giulio and his gang are trying to get away with the victim and slip away from the cops, led by the suitably engaging Henry Silva. If you want to jump right in to watching Poliziotteschi cinema, you can't go wrong with this one!
Learn more about this genre
We highly recommend Mike Malloy's awesome documentary to those new to 70s poliziotteschi. It features interviews with many of the popular actors and filmmakers that were at the forefront of the Eurocrime craze.