HIGH CRIME is playing tonight in New York City at 92Y Tribeca. This is a rare opportunity to see one of the pivotal entries in the genre known as Poliziotteschi, a.k.a. the Italian cop films of the 1970s. Enzo Castellari is one of the most prolific of the many prolific directors of the era. Here he joined forces for the first time with the mighty Franco Nero. I may prefer their next collaboration, STREET LAW, over HIGH CRIME — or Sergio Sollima’s REVOLVER or VIOLENT CITY or Fernando DiLeo’s MILANO CALIBRO 9 or Il BOSS, for that matter — but this is still something of a must-see. As far as I can tell, HIGH CRIME is not on Netflix or any of the other instant-viewing sources, and there doesn’t seem to be an official DVD release. I’m kind of talking myself into going now.
The first collaboration between star Franco Nero (DJANGO) and director Enzo Castellari (THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) kicked off the Italian cop movie craze and remains one of the highest points of the genre.
Nero is a loose-cannon police inspector on the trail of a crime outfit smuggling heroin into Rome who begins to uncover corruption at the highest echelons of power. Released in the UK as The Marseilles Connection, Castellari’s full-throttle actioner owes more than a little to William Friedkin’s seminal police procedural (it, too, features a supporting turn by Fernando Rey), but separates itself from the dozens of other rip-offs by virtue of another ass-kicking Nero performance, numerous kinetic set-pieces and one of the most rockin’ Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (aka Oliver Onions) soundtracks of the decade.
Director: Enzo Castellari. 100 min. 1973. 35mm.
Part of the series Rip Off Cinema: Italian Edition.
Here’s a track from the score to THE HEROIN BUSTERS — there’s no connection beyond the genre, but this music will get you in a Poliziotteschi kind of mood…
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