Review: Years of Lead
Released by Arrow Films as a box set, Years of Lead consists of five 1970s Italian Crime dramas. At the time they were made Italy was going through a time of political instability, Political corruption was rife and there were many acts of left and right wing terrorism leading the population of Italy to unsurprisingly have a deep mistrust of Government and indeed any public service. Film makers seemed to find artistic expression in depicting brutality, through morally ambiguous crime thrillers which seemed to encapsulate this feeling of mistrust and dread, defining the so called Years of Lead or Anni di piombo.
In Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975) Ovidio Mainardi (Joe Dallesandro) and his two friends Giacomo (Gianfranco De Grassi) and Pepe (Guido De Carli) work in a very early computer science lab and appear to be wealthy, sensible middle class men, until night when they run amok in Rome killing and raping for fun.
This is so dated yet very watchable, and seeing Dallesandro impale a woman with a forklift truck was the highlight of my week.
Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), is apparently based on the Circeo Massacre, in which three young men abducted, raped and tortured two young women over a two day period.
This looks at random acts of extreme violence against women committed by Tony (Cesare Barro) whose dad is a millionaire. However, it’s almost soft porn because the amount of 70s “bush” in it is incredible. All the men in this film (including the police) treat all the women characters as nothing more than rape objects. This is a weakest of the 5 films and I felt it was overlong and boring.
Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976) is a lot better and a lot more action packed.
Turin, Italy mid-1970s. When police captain Vanni’s (Marcel Bozzuffi) wife is murdered by Marseilles crime lord The Black Angel (Ivan Rassimov), Vanni forms a secret squad of ‘rogue cops’ each armed with an unlicensed .38 Colt Diamondback revolver. Yes, it is Magnum Force Italian style, and is hugely enjoyable with some great car/bike stunts.
Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977) is one long car chase starring Maurizio Merli as Marco Palma a ‘renegade’ cop (he’s a rebel, a loner, a sex god) who looks like a budget Lee Majors.
It’s a very silly film, but like most of the box set, an extremely enjoyable watch. Inspired by the career of Armando Spatafora, an Italian ‘flying squad’ police officer whose patrol car was a Ferrari 250 GTE. The car chases and stunts in this movie did make me cringe a few times and the roll down the Spanish Steps in the middle of Rome is…. astonishing! Who knew a Citroen DS went so fast!
Finally in Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973), a man out fishing hears screaming and witnesses the brutal murder of a young woman through the reeds. Instead of doing the right thing – informing the police, he runs away and finds every excuse shown as an internal dialogue to NOT report the crime. Unfortunately for him the actual murderer goes to the police and tells them the witness is the murderer.
Enzo Cerusico, who plays the witness, is rather like the Italian version of Robert Redford, a bit of a good looking, everyman. Out of the whole box set this was the film I enjoyed the most, mainly because it had a story, rather than mindless killing, tits and racing around. Although there IS a lot of racing around Rome in this film! The end is completely tagged on and weird, and obviously NOT the intended ending as you can see from the extras.
I know the ‘poliziotteschi’ style of films are more ideologically varied and nuanced than just being flat out thrillers, but unless you know some of Italy’s history at the time you don’t get what the aim of them was, however, these are 5 films I’ve never seen before and out of the 5, 4 of them were very watchable.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations of all five films, restored from the original camera negatives, including a brand new 2K restoration of Colt 38 Special Squad exclusive to this release
- Original lossless mono Italian audio on all five films
- Original lossless mono English audio on Colt 38 Special Squad
- English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack on Colt 38 Special Squad
- Poliziotteschi: Violence and Justice in the Years of Lead, a new visual essay by critic Will Webb exploring the recurring traits and themes of the genre
- Rat Eat Rat, an interview with writer/director Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard on Savage Three
- The Savage One, an interview with actor Joe Dallesandro on Savage Three
- When a Murderer Dies, an interview with cinematographer Romano Albani and film historian Fabio Melelli on Like Rabid Dogs
- It’s Not a Time for Tears, an interview with assistant director Claudio Bernabei on Like Rabid Dogs
- Music sampler for Like Rabid Dogs
- Always the Same Ol’ 7 Notes, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani on Colt 38 Special Squad
- A Tough Guy, an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano on Colt 38 Special Squad
- Archival introduction to Colt 38 Special Squad by Stelvio Cipriani
- Faster Than a Bullet, an interview with film historian Roberto Curti on Highway Racer
- Mother Justice, an interview with writer/director Vittorio Salerno on No, the Case is Happily Resolved
- Alternate ending to No, the Case is Happily Resolved
- Original trailers for Like Rabid Dogs, Colt 38 Special Squad and No, the Case is Happily Resolved
- Poster galleries
- Reversible sleeves featuring original artwork for all five films
- Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Troy Howarth, Michael Mackenzie, Rachael Nisbet, Kat Ellinger and James Oliver
Review by Tina from discs kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.