Starting out as a documentary to show his friends, Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the 70s is director Mike Malloy’s love letter to an era of cinema that seems to have been forgotten.
With the Italian film industry being so influenced by what’s popular in the American market, this genre of Eurocrime (aka Poliziotteschi) was birthed after the major successes of the crime and gangster movies of the early 70s American Cinema such as Dirty Harry and The Godfather. Trying to cash in, a slew of copycat films were made, but as the directors involved gave their films unique European spin the projects morphed into something quite different.
As a genre many know next to nothing about, this documentary acts as an excellent introduction to a fascinating time in Italian cinema, presented in a digestible way that is not too overbearing with its information and scale for new audiences but still in-depth enough to satisfy the diehard fans. The dissection from its beginnings through to its heights and the subsequent fall, the legacy the genre created is an interesting one. Using a wide variety of talking heads, it manages to cover every angle and somehow never suffers from being too ‘fanboyish’, and its balanced approach leading to some decent conversations about the negative aspects of the genre and most ‘tough guy’ cinema.
It also speaks about Eurocrime with an appreciation and respect, which mainstream cinema never did. The stories brought up in the documentary about the marketing strategies of American distributors as they attempted to break the genre into the American market is baffling, changing titles, actors names and even designing posters indicating a completely different kind of film. And director Mike Malloy does an outstanding job at representing this era and genre as the captivating subject that it is.
Another great angle tackled by the director is the difference between the Italian and Hollywood filmmaking process showing how quick, improvisational and incessantly more dangerous it was. Not just by star actors doing their own stunts, bu with the additional inclusion of the surrounding Mafia community. Wih some great interviews with most of the big players at the time leading to some shocking and funny stories.
Even though it does run a bit long, with obvious places you could tighten it up, Eurocrime! never bores. The way that it deals with the sheer amount of information makes it feel like it’s just as an in-depth as any book written on the subject. The format and style is informative and entertaining, opening my eyes to a new genre. All I can say is when you watch it have a pen and pad ready as you will almost certainly want to write down all the films you now need to see.