Quoting American films that inspired remakes verbatim, poor dubbing and stolen scenes- oh and an obligatory moustache on every male character- are classic signs that you are watching a Eurocrime film from the seventies- a decade that saw this cinematic fad hit the screens of Italy. Italian directors churned out this exploitative genre and for many reasons audiences loved them- and still hold them in memory with a sense of fondness. Mick Malloy looks back over how this genre became at the forefront of Italian director’s minds and audience’s screens in Eurocrime! (2012). 

The Italian film industry has always been prone to fads. The sword and sandal movies that came out in the shadow of Ben Hur (1959), the perennially popular sex comedies with everything from Carry-on style nudity to transvestites, and the Spaghetti westerns all had their glory days. By the early seventies, however, the Spaghetti western began running out of steam. Inspired by the success of American films such as The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972) and Dirty Harry (1971), Italian studios began to produce ‘poliziotteschi’, cop films which amped up the sex and violence and played fast and loose with storylines and originality.

Yet these films, although produced in vast quantities, were never very well received outside of Europe, or more specifically Italy.

Malloy’s Eurocrime! documentary looks at the genre via interviews with some of the major actors of the age, including Franco Nero, Henry Silva, Richard Harrison and John Saxon, whilst intercutting their chats with small movie excerpts and cool animations. This documentary is cool, funny and informed- perfect for fans of the poliziotteschi genre and will undoubtedly make new fans of this niche market of filmmaking.

‘Eurocime! The Italian cop and gangster films that ruled the 70s’ focuses on how crime became centre stage after the heyday of Western and Giallo subsided. After effectively ripping off the likes of Dirty Harry, Italian directors moved a little closer to home and made crime films that addressed the Mafia, Camorra and The Red Brigade. Rushed production due to little money meant that the stars of poliziotteschi performed their own stunts, directors stole shots and filmed without licence and there were no live sound recordings –  the caveat being that dubbing was always used.

It is is a great round up of the genre and the way it is pieced together is superb, explained clearly and with a fondness to show the madness and mayhem endured by the stars of the era. My only slight criticism is that for a documentary it is a little bit lengthy- but a great way to spend an afternoon. You’ll want to go and work through the back catalogue of Eurocrime!

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.