Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Violent Four

Just watched Carlo Lizzani's The Violent Four, an excellent hard-nosed Italian crime film about the exploits of a crew bank robbers and the police hunt that follows their latest score. Emerging in 1968, Lizzani's film is slightly ahead of the curve of poliziotteschi films of the 70's, the story itself is fairly rudimentary - apparently based on real-life events, but Lizzani galvanizes the material with a pseudo-documentary style and a relentless pace - the centerpiece of the film, a bank robbery that spills out onto the streets of Milan, is quite breathtaking with the actors hanging out of speeding cars, all guns blazing. I suspect Lizzani intended his film to call attention to the increasing levels of violent crime that were encroaching on Italian life - at one point the director uses a novel device of introducing some minor characters who are fated to be killed in the aftermath of the robbery - lest one imagines there was any honor among these thieves. Cast is headed up by the great Gian Maria Volonté as the erratic head of the gang, and squaring off against him is Tomas Milian, slightly too young to be playing a police commissioner but effective nonetheless. And bringing up the rear is a fresh-faced Ray Lovelock as the young whipper-snapper in the gang. My thanks to my good friend Martin, who introduced me to this film, which surprisingly has not yet received an official English-language release on DVD/BR. In the meantime, there's an excellent fan rip doing the rounds which combines the original Italian soundtrack with a very good looking German print (Die Banditen von Mailand) and it's well worth seeking out...

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