Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ASPETTA . . . "NAPOLI VIOLENTA" (1976) aka VIOLENT NAPLES aka DEATH DEALERS is one of the better of the Italian "poliziesco" genre. The "poliziesco" is an Italian crime film which flourished in the sixties and seventies alongside the even more popular "spaghetti western" and "giallo" genres. Many of the directors of polizieschi also simultaneously turned out movies in these other genres as well. VIOLENT NAPLES director Umberto Lenzi is a case in point; he also directed gialli like "SEVEN BLOODSTAINED ORCHIDS" (1972) and cannibal horror movies such as "THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER" (1972) and the later "CANNIBAL FEROX" (1981). in VIOLENT NAPLES, Lenzi declares himself to be a master at the action film in a movie which rarely slows down for a second.
A "Dirty Harry"-like cop named Commisioner Betti (Italian genre hero Maurizio Merli) arrives in Naples to take on the mob. Almost immediately, an affluent couple are robbed and the wife raped by a couple of hoods working for mafia boss The General (Barry Sullivan). There is also a mob financier named Capuano (John Saxon) who double-crosses the boss, a protection racket terrorizing local business owners and a bank robber named Casagrande (Elio Zamuto) who is secretly knocking over banks all over Naples. Casagrande is out on parole and has to sign in at the police station every day at 1pm; he robs the bank at a few minutes before 1 and then hops on the back of a motorcycle (driven by an actual Italian motorbike champion) who whisks him through Naples at breakneck speed so that he'll appear at the police station at 1 thereby making the police his alibi. Commissioner Betti spends the movie roughing up crooks while his superior complains about his methods. The General and Capuano spend the film double crossing each other. The protection racket smashes shop windows and torches garages. One fleeing hood impales himself through the chin on a wrought-iron fence, a father is burned to death while his son is crippled by the protection racket, a 68 year old woman is pushed down a flight of stairs by muggers, and a man is killed with a bowling ball! (Here Barry Sullivan's strike is about to meet stoolie's face!) This is a gritty and violent movie but not in an overly unpleasant way; the violence is not graphic (by today's standards) and the action is kept at a high pace so that you never get bogged down in the details. Particularly thrilling is the motorcycle footage shot from on the bike itself throughout the actual streets of Naples with the notorious Italian traffic making for a pulse-poundingly realistic sequence of many actual near-misses. There is a lamentable use of sped-up camera at the end of one of these sequences but it is meant to be obvious and almost Keystone Kops-like. And also, if you have an aversion to cheesy mustaches, this movie may frighten you because there's almost wall-to-wall porn-star mustaches throughout. Hey, it was the seventies what can ya do?!? If you're in the mood for a frantically-paced Italian crime film with lots of punches and gunshots and high speed chases than VIOLENT NAPLES is perfect for a Saturday afternoon in front of the telly with a bowl full of spaghetti.

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