Friday, December 15, 2006

The Milian Show

In the second half of the 1970s, Poliziesco had taken over Giallo in Italian popular cinema. Amongst the abundant production, two films are worth noticing as a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to mix the poliziesco filone with 'la comedia all'italiana'.

Definitely off-track, Il Trucido e lo Sbirro (aka Tough cops, Umberto Lenzi - 1976) and La banda del Trucido (aka Destruction force, Stelvio Massi - 1977) are in fact more innovative than one could think in the first place: whereas, in Italian genre cinema, characters are most of the time secondary to the intrigue or the set-up, scenarist Dardano Sacchetti tried in these movies to give depth and personality to a central character, shaped up by the writer's knowledge of Rome's working class culture: Monnezza - litterally "garbage" in Roman slang -, a bigger than life thug from Rome, played by the incredible Tomas Milian.

Wouldn't it be for Milian's pretty hilarious and spectacular incarnation of Monnezza, it has to be said that these two films are far from being unforgettable. Yet this misunderstood attempt at hijacking poliziesco to turn it into some sort of violent comedy stuffed with Roman popular humour remains noticeable: in La banda del Trucido for example, Monnezza owns a trattoria called "Alla Pernacchia" (try this on google to understand what it means) and welcomes his clients by insulting them and cracking jokes of utter vulgarity.

Cynicism and bad taste here are sometimes reminiscent of the Italian tragicomedies à la Scola (Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi, aka Ugly, Dirty and Bad), even if it never reaches the same level because of inconsistencies in the structure of the films, which never really manage to succeed in merging two genres. As a result, the overall impression is that you watch rather mediocre polizieschi interrupted with regular bursts of outrageous comedy, overacted by a decidedly weird Tomas Milian.

This could have been really great, but as Dardano Sacchetti explains in an interview, it seems nobody shared the same vision of the films when they were produced.

The French production company Neo Publishing recently released the rare Il Trucido and its sequel in DVD, in their "Italia a mano armata" collection. Sadly, no English subtitles.
More on filone from this blog here.

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