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San Babila ore 20: un delitto inutile (1976)

A group of neo-nazi youngsters, usual customers of a bar in the famous Milan public square, lives through one day of madness passing between assaults... See full synopsis »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniele Asti ...
Brigitte Skay ...
Giuliano Cesareo ...
Michele Castiglioni
Pietro Brambilla ...
Pietro Giannuso ...
Alfredo Somma
Grazia Baccari ...
Paolo fiancé
Gilberto Squizzato ...
Rodolfo Dal Pra ...
Paola Faloja ...
Mother of Michele
Giovanni Colla
Franco Ferri
Achille Grioni
Mario Mattia Giorgetti ...
Teacher (as Mario M. Giorgetti)
Walter Valdi ...
'Buon Costume' Commissario
Sergio Tardioli


A group of neo-nazi youngsters, usual customers of a bar in the famous Milan public square, lives through one day of madness passing between assaults... See full synopsis »

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Release Date:

3 July 1978 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

San Babila  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

SAN BABILA – 8 P.M. {Edited Version} (Carlo Lizzani, 1976) **1/2
11 September 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I only learnt of this one fairly recently but became especially interested in watching it after reading a review, which made it sound quite intriguing. Foolishly, I did not bother to compare the running-time so I did not immediately realize that the version I acquired soon after was trimmed…but, of course, along the way I noticed that a couple of scenes which had actually been highlighted in that assessment were definitely missing here – incidentally, while my copy lasted for 92 minutes, the Italian DVD edition bears a running-time of 97, i.e. still 8 minutes away from the official length of 105!? That said, I was not enthused by the film as much as I had expected: for the record, it is the fourth effort by director Lizzani I have watched (about which I am 50/50 as of now – though I still have some 13 to go, and with at least 4 more at arm's reach!); by the way, this time last year I almost got to meet him personally at the Viareggio Film Festival, which I was all ready to go in lieu of a friend and local personality appointed to cover the event and who had bowed out for personal reasons…but who then managed to get his affairs in order by the time he had to leave for Italy!

Anyway, to get back to the film: it deals with a quartet of neo-Fascists at large in the country's industrial capital, Milan, their activities mostly centered around the titular square. What we get is uncomfortable viewing, not just for their outbursts of hedonism and terrorism but also for the apparent leniency (virtually equating to compliance!) with which the authorities handle them – though I do not buy Lizzani's suggestion that, because one of their number is a Police informer and some may be the off-springs of leading citizens (in fact, we first see them attending the funeral of a "gerarca", an official of the former Fascist Party...and, yet, their families have proved huge disappointments to these kids, thus serving to fuel the latter's disenchantment all the more), the Law can simply afford to look the other way as if nothing was going on!

However, this is not the only logical flaw within the film: one of the boys is depicted as an impotent who, in order to get his personal elation when rounding up a most obtuse and irritating local girl (played by A BAY OF BLOOD {1971}'s Brigitte Skay) for kicks, he has to rape with a truncheon – as per the afore-mentioned review, since this is one of the edited bits! – in the dingy basement of a household-goods shop where his pal works; so far, so good – but, then, we are supposed to believe that because of this unfortunate hang-up, he is also unable to 'perform' as a political animal: consequently, he chickens out by failing to light the dynamite charge that he was asked by his "camerati" to plant in an office building!; when his 'treachery' is discovered (he had initially covered his tracks by claiming that the fuse was damp and it could well go out), he is ordered to make amends by 'eliminating' an enemy of Fascism (whose resurgence here, incidentally, is never properly explained or, worse still, denounced!).

The choice of victim falls upon a student who, on the town with his equally young girlfriend, has no time for politics and happens to be spotted by the gang throwing away a Party manifesto he had just been handed by a rallying member. So, the quartet spend the night chasing the couple in the hope of getting them to some secluded place and, when they do, viciously, repeatedly and pointlessly (hence, the film's sub-title AN UNNECESSARY MURDER) knife them to death. In keeping with this idealized scenario (though, to be fair to the film-makers, such an apparently motiveless incident did indeed occur at San Babila and which inspired this in the first place), ever the weakling, the impotent boy goes home to literally spill his guts out before his long-suffering mother (whom he had constantly badmouthed in the presence of his friends as a sign of independence) – with her unnatural doting suddenly hinting at the onset of an incestuous relationship!

While the picture is undeniably raw (a semi-documentary feel and being mainly peopled by unknowns certainly helped in this regard) and strongly-felt (as were a good many efforts to emerge during this particularly tumultuous era in Italian history), I must say that I was not especially involved in the plight of any of the characters: be it the kids (who are practically interchangeable and never truly convince when it is required of them to spout their political beliefs!), their parents or their victims (despite taking care to introduce them half-way through so as to drive home the message that they are decent, hard-working folk!). By the way, it is odd that a scene depicting the neo-Fascists disrupting traffic by breaking into an impromptu march emulating the infamous Nazi goose-step should be cut from this version of the film when another in which the boys are shown parading fake penises bought from a local sex shop in the light of day (an intimation, perhaps, of their youthfulness, that is, being impetuously prone to 'shocking' pranks…but which clearly does not hold water in the face of the recent London riots, where many of the offenders were found to be still under-age!), causing no end of consternation for the public and for which they are actually arrested, has been retained!

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