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if you have never seen an Italian crime movie, this is a great place to start. unlike many other films of this type, it actually works on an emotional level as well as being very entertaining, simular to the films of Scorsese. it's a very violent film, but none of the violence is gratuitous. lots of stylish slow motion shootings, car explosions, and people run over by various moter vehicles, and the excellent musical score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis captures the emotion of these scenes perfectly. the cast is also very good, especialy Italian Star Franco Nero. highly recommended.
Fast paced, violent and innovative crime thriller with director Castellari and star, Franco Nero on top form. This becomes a little complicated in the middle when there is some jockeying for position between baddies but it finishes well and that start! The great cinematography is evident from the beginning of the credits when from behind the titles we see the gradually enlarging exit to a shipping tunnel. As soon as we dock the chase is on as the suspected drug dealer is chased around the streets by good cop Nero. And what a chase, now I'm no great fan of such things that can in my opinion be overused as padding, but here is a real thrill, and so it goes on for much of the film. Not much time for romance and just the briefest nudity before we are back on the hectic and all consuming search for Mr Big. Lots of references to corruption, communism and general unrest all add to the atmosphere. Have only had the chance to see this dubbed so a subtitled print would be good to see some time.
This was the first break-through success of a Poliziotti Italian crime movie
and spawned several dozen imitations. Possibly the best film ever made,
High Crime delivers the goods like few other movies, blending some
experimental filming and editing techniques in with some good performances,
solid action sequences, great music, and some pretty stunning photography by
Alejandro Ulloa. Unlike a lot of other crime flicks made around the same
period, this film isn't sympathetic at all to the villains. They are cold
and heartless thugs who's so anything to keep themselves out of jail where
they rightfully belong. This film is completely fascist and right-wing in
its undertones, yet maintains an engaging level of emotional impact
throughout. The scene where Franco Nero discovers his daughter dead made me
almost want to cry... and Castellari expertly handles the flashbacks and
knows just when to use slow motion in all the right spots.
This wasn't the film which set the trend in Italian crime films (see Violent Professionals) but it was an excellent film which caused their widespread (yet short-lived) popularity. Certain elements (like the getting-in-car-gun-down) were endlessly repeated in the genre by Castellari himself as well as his father Marino Girolami, who totally ripped off the ending of this film in ROMA VIOLENTA, a much more typical film in the genre with Maurizio Merli, who although is not as good an actor as Franco Nero, is much more intense as the leading man in these sorts of films.
Wow! This film has all that you've come to expect from a Euro Crime
flick. Violent murders, long shoot-outs with machine guns, a
hot-tempered police officer who loathes criminals, downright evil
henchmen and much, much more. Franco Nero has lately become one of my
favorite actors, and not without a reason; in this film he proves what
a talent he really had. This might just be Enzo G. Castellari's best
crime film. It's very nicely directed, with some very interesting
camera work and the music by the De Angelis brothers is the best and
most suitable score I've heard them deliver to this point. It perfectly
fits in with the various situations that Nero's character finds himself
The only copy I could get a hold of was a region 0 release from 23rd Century (?). It does not have the best audio or video quality, but it's watchable. Availiable on Ebay as "The Marseilles Connection".
If you're a fan of either Nero or Castellari, or of course, both, this is a film you have to see!
In case you're looking for action cinema without restraints, boundaries, fake sentiment or political correctness, you have to aim your senses towards the so-called Italian "Poliziottesco" movies. That is a commonly known fact, or at least I always assumed so, but still this is a vastly underrated sub genre even among cult cinema fanatics. The same great names of Italian cult cinema often return, like for example those of director Enzo G. Castellari and charismatic lead actor Franco Nero. These two prodigies often worked together, but this is arguably their finest piece of work (or at least on par with the terrific western "Keoma"). The words "awesome" and "brilliant" spring to mind when witnessing a movie that opens with artsy credits and promptly continues with an exhilarating and non-stop 10 minutes (!) lasting car chase sequence and then a virulent explosion. The intro immediately sets the pace for a masterfully adrenalin-rushing and hardcore-to-the-bone cop thriller, reminiscent to "The French Connection" and "Dirty Harry" only much more outrageous. Franco Nero depicts the devoted and unstoppable police commissioner Belli, who initiates a merciless crusade to cleanse his city entirely of Mafiosi, drug couriers and corruption. Belli receives voluntary cooperation from a former crime boss, but he's undoubtedly doing it for his own benefit. The support from his superiors is minimal since several prominent citizens may be involved in dirty business and, whenever Belli reaches a major breakthrough in his investigations, they try and strike back on a personal level. The overall plot, with particularly the double-crossings and betrayals between crime gang members mutually, is extremely convoluted and often very confusing but the extended and mega-violent shootout sequences don't require a lot of thinking. The villains are truly relentless and loathsome thugs without a conscience whatsoever, but Belli isn't a wussy himself, as his investigation methods qualify as quite unorthodox as well. Without wanting to ruin things, I can safely say there are a couple of very effective sentimental and dramatic moments near the end of the film as well as some blatant shocks and "High Crime" ends exactly like it begun: with a long and fascinating explosion of violence and excitement. The score is terrific and Castellari once again proves that he's a visually very gifted director, as the stylistic trademarks are often stunning to behold.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was my introduction to Poliziotteschi films, and also my
introduction to Enzo G Castellari, who in my opinion may be the
greatest Italian director of the 70s and 80s. I can't get enough of
this guy's films! In fact, when I started watching this, a large beam
of light focused on me and a voice said "Spend cash on all my movies,
This was a rubbish video transfer copy of High Crime that I picked up for a quid, but even the washed out look and occasional flicker couldn't detract from the greatness of this movie. It's proof that beyond zombie flicks and slasher movies, there's a whole world of groovy Italian films out there.
A mysterious man is taken from Marsielles to Genoa, and before he can go about his business, he's on the run from the cops, led by Comissioner Belli (Nero). The chase soon switches from foot to car, with some really dangerous looking stunts going on. There's one shot where the cars are heading straight for the cameraman, then abruptly cuts away. Hope the guy survived. If not, then he died contributing towards a good cause. Who knows in these films.
Belli gets his man, but before he can question him a car bomb kills the guy, three cops, and a little girl. As this is an Italian movie, we get to see a burning carcass flying out of the car window when it blows up. The film has hardly started.
It seems that there's a new crime family trying to muscle in on things in Genoa, and Belli wants to get straight to the top and arrest Mister Big. Belli's boss, played by James Whitmore, knows who these guys are but due to their political connections is reluctant to do anything about it. Belli ends up getting help from an unlikely source: an ailing mafia boss who's own men are starting to switch sides, a man who also seems to be obsessed with using metaphors and analogies littered with animal/insect/eating imagery. He's cool though, and his sidekick was alright too.
The problems facing Belli and numerous: who is the real Mister Big? Who can he trust? Every time he thinks he's got to the top, the suspect is murdered. Worse still, the deeper he gets the more his loved ones are put at risk. Does he risk all or heed the repeated warnings to back off? This being an Italian film, do you think anyone at all will be alive at the end of the film?
There's hardly a minute wasted in High Crime. A constantly shifting storyline that flys through its running time, switching scenes at an alarming rate, and only slightly getting confusing once all the characters are introduced. By that point, however, people start getting bumped off as characters double cross each other and try to shift suspicion onto others. This is done usually in slow motion, with a kind of standard squib-or-no-squib-at-all technique that is also prevalent in Italian war movies.
Aside from the funky soundtrack, there are two main factors that make this film a classic: Castellari and Nero. The direction is flawlessly high energy: even dialogue scenes are infused with nervous hyperactivity. There's good use of slow motion, especially when main characters are assassinated, plus plenty of bizarre camera angles, shaky cam, and some shots that reminded me of spaghetti westerns. Everyone is kind of sleazy, and you can't help applaud when a guy with a slight squint sniffs some smack, turns to the camera and mutters 'pure snow'.
He doesn't shy away from the violence either. One character is killed by meathooks, another has his head run over by a bike, then gets castrated, a kid gets run over and dragged along the road, and in one stand-out scene, Massimo Vanni gets shot in the balls in slow motion! When Massimo Vanni turns up in a film he always does two things - a couple of stunts, and a mini massacre, then a (sometimes) gory death. He's class. Watch for him in Street Law, Bronx Warriors, Big Racket, Bronx Warriors 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (and 3!) and other films I've forgotten. I befriended a stray dog when staying in Sorrento last year, and someone had gone out their way to buy this dog a tag naming him Massimo. I knew there and then it was a tribute to Massimo Vanni.
Franco Nero is the icing on the cake. The guy acts his socks off here. Belli does three things: chasing people, shouting and slapping people around. When he's not doing one he's doing another. He shouts at the bad guys, his colleagues, even his girlfriend. He slaps six different people around. The guy literally cannot sit still. His agitation at the ever elusive Mister Big comes out in flailing hands and stamping feet, gnashing of teeth and bursting into rooms. When the film calls for him to be more calm and emotional, he can do that too. Then he slaps more people around and kills them.
This is a brilliant film, and it feels somehow epic even though it lasts just over 90 minutes. If they remade it today in Hollywood it would last 4 hours and be Shiite.
One of Castellari's finest works. The acting is superb. Excellent usage of lighting and settings. Unpredictable turn of events and good images. There is almost nothing wrong with this film for people who are into crime dramas.
One of the best 1970s Italian police films out there. The great Franco
Nero overacts like hell in some scenes and is excellent in others (also
has a terrible wardrobe in this one!) but who cares, you cant beat a
bit of Nero. Pretty violent ( the attack with bailing hooks at the
dockyard stands out) and its quite well plotted. Brilliant car chase at
the start and it's great to see the 60's / 70's Alpha's, Lancias etc in
these films and its certainly part of the attraction with them.
The alternative title of 'Marseiile Connection' is obviously trying to cash in on the French Connection, but it isn't very similar and is more action orientated. Overall i would say a very satisfying and enjoyable film.
"High Crime" aka "The Marseilles Connection" by Enzo G.Castellari with Franco Nero actually helped popularize the Italian cop thriller genre/poliziotteschi.The film is extremely well-acted and features plenty of brutal and bloody violence.Franco Nero plays police commissioner Belli who wants to destroy dangerous European drug ring.When gangsters kill his daughter Nero becomes an angry killing machine.I must say that I found "High Crime" utterly fascinating.It's a vicious and mean-spirited cop thriller with unforgettable moment where little girl is run over with a car.It's obvious that Franco Nero's character was an influence for Maurizio Merli's Inspector Tanzi in later poliziotteschi movies.It's a crying shame that "High Crime" is still unavailable on DVD.9 car chases out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Enzo G. Castellari's first police procedural crime thriller "High
Crime" a.k.a. "La polizia incrimina la legge assolve" (1973) qualifies
as violent, tragic, but memorable. The auto chases are fast and
furious. The villains are thoroughgoing dastards who are prepared to
kill anybody, including children. They run down our hero's daughter
without a qualm in one scene. Not only do they smash into her, but they
also drive over her body. Of course, obvious dummies were used in this
scene as well as in the explosion scenes, but the violence is emphatic.
This is like dummies pitched off a building that hit the street several
floors below. A policeman on foot fires into a car barreling toward him
and the criminals smash into his body. Again, the filmmakers use a
dummy, but everything is done with a visceral sense of urgency that
makes it exciting if not horrific. Castellari and company stage some
beautiful fireball explosions that hold your attention. Spaghetti
western star Franco Nero plays the energetic but frustrated Italian
Vice-Commissioner Belli who will never be the same after this war with
the mob. "High Crime" comes with a double-digit body count, and the
significant shootings are presented in slow-motion. A high-ranking
police official takes three bullets in his body when his back is turned
to a heavy. You'll hate the bad guys and savor their deaths by
fade-out. Although this 100-minute melodrama features a happy ending,
the toll that Belli's crusade against crime takes leaves a bitter
after-taste. One anonymous commentator at a download site has written
that "High Crime" "was largely responsible for setting off the entire
Italian crime film movement of the 70's."
"High Crime" opens with our heroic police officer arresting an elusive Lebanese drug dealer in Genoa after a careening auto chase through the city. Unfortunately, Belli doesn't keep the Lebanese in custody long before the wily criminals blow up the police car transporting his prisoner. Miraculously, Belli wasn't seated in the vehicle when it blew up and killed the Lebanese and four cops, along with a young girl playing nearby in the street. Meantime, Belli's superior, Commissioner Aldo Scavino (JamesWhitmore), wants to get adequate evidence on everybody from the bottom to the top and he is prepared to exercise patience in his battle with organized crime. Assiduously, he has compiled a dossier on mafia connections, but Belli lacks Scaviono's patience. Belli is a man of action. He consults with a former crime boss, Cafiero (Fernando Rey of "The French Connection"), who spends most of his time in his rose garden. Cafiero warns our hot-headed hero that if the mob cannot put him on ice, they will go after the people that he loves. Meanwhile, the mob ambushes Scavino as he is getting into his car in an exciting shoot-out sequence that continues when a street cop opens fire on the two killers as they flee from the scene of the crime.
"High Crime" is unforgettable.
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