The Lucio Fulci Bloodbath Goes West In 1975’s “Four of the Apocalypse”

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Thomas Milian As The Mansoneque Chaco

One of the more amazing experiences that Lily and I made had our recent visit to Rome was a visit to Cinecitta, the famed Italian movie studio that was built by Mussolini in the late 1930s to save the fading film industry which not only produced propaganda films during the early years of fascism, but also created many popular narrative films, including those of directors such as Raffaello Matarazzo. Unfortunately, the studios were bombed during the final months of World War Two, the damaged buildings and sets became home to thousand of displaced refugees for a few years before being revived as a functioning production studio during the Neo-Realist period.  This Neo-Realist era would subsequently turn into the golden age of Cinecitta with the rise of Italian directors, Frederico Fellini, and Bernardo Bertolucci. as well as the studios becoming the place to shoot sword and sandal films by not only Italian auteurs but also famed American directors like Joseph L. Mankiewicz who shot his epic, Cleopatra which starred Elizabeth Taylor there in 1963.

As the 1960s rolled on, the studios began to crank out numerous Italian or spaghetti westerns. a fact that shouldn’t be lost on anyone who reads this blog as I have reviewed several rare titles within the genre over the last few years.  What I did not know until visiting Cinecitta is that many of these films are not revered in Italy as they have been deemed too colonial in their message by a predominance of Italian film goers.  That message of the antiquated perception of these titles was made quite clear during our tour of Cinecitta, though the museum still chose to honor this genre with an impressive, albeit smallish portion of their museum. Long gone were the western town sets that littered the lots of the studio, they were demolished in the 1980s to make way for the construction of sets depicting ancient Rome which were needed for a new generation of  sword and sandal films like HBO’s 2004 series Rome.  This fact being somewhat bizarre to me as the spaghetti western was originally the genre that took sword and sandal out of Italian mainstream popularity.  Lily and I were still thrilled to see their spaghetti western exhibit which had a film tribute to the genre, Clint Eastwood’s actual poncho from Sergio Leone’s classic, For A Few Dollars More,  and a few rare film posters strew around the western saloon edifice for effect.  One such poster was that of a rarely seen 1975 spaghetti that surprisingly was directed by horror master Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, Zombie) that caught Lily’s eye, Four Of The Apocalypse. I was also intrigued and immediately went online to pick up a copy through the folks at Blue Underground who had it waiting for us when we returned from Italy.

Released in 1975 when the western was fading out of vogue for the less costly to produce Eurocrime film, Four Of The Apocalypse was banned in several countries on its initial release because of, you guessed it, the graphic violence and sadistic cruelty that mark many a subsequent Fulci film and although the violence is fairly disturbing at points that should not dissuade you from seeing a very personal and at times, emotionally complex late spaghetti western. No stranger to the western genre after two successful adaptations of Jack London’s White Fang in 1973 and 1974, Fulci drew from two well-known 19th century short stories from famed western writer Bret Harte, The Outcasts Of Poker Flats and in the last third of the film, Fulci uses Harte’s heartwarming tale, The Luck Of Roaring Camp. Our film begins with gambler Stubby Preston (an extremely well-coiffed Fabio Testi) as he arrives via coach to the rollicking gold town of Salt Flats with a plan to bust the town’s casino to only be met by the town’s sheriff, who immediately locks up Stubby in the town pokey with a pregnant hooker named Bunny (Lynne Frederick), the town drunk, Clem (Michael J. Pollard, the wheel man from Bonnie and Clyde) and Bud (Harry Baird), an African American man who does not have all of his marbles. The four quickly bond in the cell and are soon shuffled out of town by the apathetic sheriff when vigilantes decide to do on a murderous coup.

The quartet are cast out upon a wagon but are not at odds with one another.  Sure, there is sometime acrimonious sexual tension between Stubby and Bunny, and Clem is savagely jonesing for a drink but all in all our protagonists have accepted their roles as outcasts and are supportive of one another as they travel onward.  Our group soon stumbles upon a well-meaning wagon train of religious crusaders who distill of bit of homespun wisdom on our misfit travelers but after a few words and a meal, they all go their separate ways.  Juxtaposing the harmony is the sudden jarring inclusion of Chaco (Thomas Milian) a vile Charlie Mansonesque killer, complete with tattoos fashioned under his eyes, who seems to unable to move an inch without killing something in his way and whether that target is a wild animal or the lawmen that are following Chaco, they are doomed to die and in the case of one sheriff, he is brutally tortured and mutilated before dying. Following the carnage, there is a scene that seems to be pulled from Jodorowsky’s psychedelic western El Topo, when Chaco feeds our four misfits some peyote but a trippy voyage does not follow as indeed this Chaco is bad news for everyone he touches and this moment of letting their guard down will cost our broken heroes dearly. Even though the four escape death through the hands of Chaco, they are more damaged than ever before and must make their way to safety with a wounded member on a stretcher and a soon to be delivering Bunny.  They will walk through blazing heat and snow, landing in a ghost town before an eventual visit to an all male mining camp which provides some of the most hopeful moments in Four Of The Apocalypse, moments that are directly pulled from the pages of Harte’s whimsical story, The Luck Of Roaring Camp.

Beautifully lensed by cinematographer Sergio Salvati, and a folksy score that is more McCabe and Mrs. Miller than Morricone, Four Of The Apocalypse consistently strives to be a cut above the later Italian westerns of that period.  All of our leads put in fine performances with special notice going to Milian who completely embodies the horror within the maniacal Chaco.  Milian is absolutely terrifying and gobbles up screen time whenever he appears in the film.  As for the well-noted graphic violence that Fulci employs in Four Of The Apocalypse,  it does in fact hurt the film to the extent that it goes beyond what is necessary to amplify Thomas Milian’s performance as Chaco.  It is almost like Fulci felt the need to add the red stuff because be believed  that the character of Chaco wasn’t compelling/dreadful enough to be the target of the viewer’s ire. Milian’s psycho method-acting driven performance is definitely enough to make you burn with hatred against Chaco and thus audiences could’ve been spared the extra cruelty that is more off-putting than emotionally effecting.

                            Original 1975 Trailer for Four Of The Apocalypse

Regardless of the extemporaneous violence, I would still would place Fulci’s Four Of The Apocalypse along with Enzo G. Castellari’s 1976 masterpiece, Keoma as one of the best examples of a late-era Italian western.  Though these films may not be seen as high art in preset day Italy, to me they still resonate as having a brave originality that most American westerns of the same era never possessed.   

 

 

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“What Have You Done to Solange?” Leone Cinematographer, Massimo Dallamano’s Clever 1972 Giallo

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Fabio Testi As The Well Groomed Prof. Rosseni

Well, here I am….Another weekend where I am writing a piece for my lost films of the 1970s blog, and yes, another review of a Fabio Testi film! Before I delve deep into this week’s Testi film, the exceptional 1972 giallo, “What Have You Done To Solange,” I must confess that over the last few years, since talking my wife to see Monte Hellman’s 1978 western, “China 9 Liberty 37” at the Harvard film Archive’s 2011 Hellman retrospective, I have watched more than my fair share of Mr. Testi’s work. To be frank, I had seen “China 9” back in the 1980s, and it pales in comparison to the rest Hellman’s output for that decade, but it does provide you with two of the most attractive actors of that era, Fabio Testi and the stunning Jenny Agutter. I also wanted to view the film again, and I did so for the few minutes that Sam Peckinpah takes the screen in addition to Warren Oates, who is a cut above most American actors of his generation. Given the talent in the film, I thought it was worth another look and brought Lily with me for a second opinion. Let’s just say that Lily also felt so-so on the film but was very impressed with Mr. Testi…Very impressed she was. Past some minor jealousy, I have no problem here because Fabio always brings something special to each par,t and Lily’s fascination with him has forced us to look at many smaller Fabio Testi films that we may have never seen. Such is the case when we recently saw a 35mm print of the 1972 Massimo Dallamano directed giallo, “What Have You Done To Solange.”

Born in Milan in 1917, Massimo Dallamano got his start as a camera operator for documentaries and was actually the cameraman who filmed Mussolini’s bullet ridden body after El Duce was murdered by partisans in 1945. Before making the jump to directing with his underrated 1967 spaghetti western, “Bandido,” Dallamano spent 1946-1966 working consistently and at times exemplarily as a cinematographer for films such as Dino Risi’s 1960 comedy,”Love and Larceny,” and Sergio Leone’s first two westerns, “A Fistful Of Dollars,” and “For A Few Dollars More.” I have always loved Dallamano’s timeless visual style behind the camera, so that along with my adoration of his aforementioned film, “Bandido,” and my general love of giallos made my desire to see “What Have You Done To Solange” increase immensely, and it does not disappoint.

Dallamano’s film, based on a novel by Edgar Wallace entitled, “The Curse Of The New Pin,” blissfully begins with a very coiffed professor named Enrico (Fabio Testi) on a rowboat wooing a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth (Cristina Galbó). While in their halcyon state, they witness something happening on land. They see someone running and the shine of a knife, but they aren’t sure of what exactly they are seeing. Cut to a later scene when Enrico hears that there has been a murder at the lake on the radio, so he returns to the scene of the crime to see what has happened. When Enrico returns to the lake where a murder has indeed happened, a press photographer snaps and publishes his picture, so when it is revealed that the girl who was murdered was also a student at the Catholic school where he and his dutiful but gruff wife Herta (Karin Baal) are teaching, Enrico becomes implicated in a string of murders of young women who all attended the same school, and it is up to Enrico and Herta to find the killer before his career is destroyed.

Herta is aware of Enrico’s tryst with Elizabeth as well as other girls at the school, which hurts Herta, but that does not falter her desire to defend here husband, if not for anything but to avoid a scandal. We know where Enrico was when the killing at the lake occurs, so he is not the killer, so is it possible that Herta is the culprit because of her jealousy? Our titular character Solange (Camille Keaton) was also connected to all of the murdered girls and appears not too well, but is she damaged enough to have conspired to kill all of these students? Bit by bit as the movie unfolds, we come to realize that the students at this school were not squeaky clean; drugs, booze, and abortions seem to be the standard at this Catholic school, so could the killer be the snobbish Professor Bascomb (Günther Stoll) or the judgmental headmaster, Mr. Leach (Rainer Penkert), who are so inclined as to resort to murder so that they can keep the escapades of our freewheeling students out of the press? Given that “What Have You Done To Solange” is a giallo, I will spare you the answer because that spoils the mystery and horror of the ride.

One of the more interesting transformations of the film is how Dallamano changes the physical appearance of Herta from a harsh and stern “Helga Of The SS,” non-nonsense looking woman to one that becomes ever so softer and more beautiful as she works harder to clear her husband’s name and thus rekindling their fondness for one another. It is an interesting and subtle choice for our director to make: By making Herta kinder as the plot progresses, Dallamano subliminally encourages the viewer to strike her name off of the list of suspects as the movie progresses. In fact, at one point, when Dallamano includes excerpts from Enrico’s dreams where he questions his own innocence, we as the audience are more likely to suspect Enrico than Herta, even though Herta appears to have the strongest motivation to kill the girls. The reduction of Herta’s harshness is an interesting technique that works well in shuffling the deck of suspects while keeping her character from just being a downtrodden wife that begs for your pity.

“What Have You Done To Solange” 1972 Trailer

Truth be told, I haven’t read the Wallace novel, but this film plays out like a English detective story mixed with a slasher film rather than an eerie Argentoesque supernatural horror film, which I found very compelling. Also missing is the intense viscera that normally coincides with most giallos, making “What Have You Done To Solange” feel more like a murder mystery, which was a refreshing change of pace. As for Testi, he is his usual stunning self (this is Lily speaking, not me), and he is very good in the lead as he commands each scene with that same sorrowful face and desperation that he has in the 1973 Sergio Sollima film that I reviewed last month, “Revolver,” which is also a cut above the average poliziotteschi. As far as the other actors are concerned, Karin Baal really brings a lot to her small role as Herta and is an actress that I will keep an eye out for when I review other films that she starred in during that era. As for the cinematography, it is the strongest point of this film, and much of that credit goes to Dallamano, who I am sure had a say in the shot selection and his young cinematographer, Aristide Massaccesi, who would soon be known as Joe D’Amato, who, like Dallamano, would become a very successful director in his own right.

Sadly, unlike his protege D’Amato, Massimo Dallamano would only make a handful of films after “What Have You Done To Solange,” for he was killed in a car accident in 1976 after finishing shooting the crime film, “Colt 38 Special Squad.” Given his smaller volume of output, Dallamano receives less attention than his peers, but he is a visually smart and sharp director who deserves a great deal of respect for his work in Italian genre cinema.

 

Oliver Reed And Fabio Testi Fight Each Other And The Clock In The Exceptional 1973 Poliziotteschi, “Revolver”

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Reed and Testi Are Sporting Serious Outerwear!

If you regularly read my reviews of lost 1970s films, you may have noticed that only two months ago I already reviewed a poliziotteschi (Italian crime film) called “The Big Racket,” and that one also starred Fabio Testi. So, why, you may ask, am I reviewing another film within the same genre so soon?

Most importantly, I really love the early spaghetti westerns of director Sergio Sollima, who sadly passed away back in July at the age of ninety four, so I thought to re-watch some of his best films. High on my list of his work in the spaghetti genre are “The Big Gundown,” “Face To Face,” and “Run Man Run,” all back to back from 1966 to 1968 and all starring the steely-eyed Cuban-born actor Thomas Milian. Director Sollima was never as epic in scale or poetic as Leone or as gruesome as Corbucci; no, what distinguished a Sollima western was the cold solemnness that set him apart from many of his peers. I loved taking a second glance at his work these last few months and was even more motivated to watch his 1973 poliziotteschi, “Revolver,” aka “Blood In The Streets,” the Sollima work with the brooding talents of Fabio Testi, who at the time had just scored a hit in the crime genre with “Gang War In Naples,” and the legendarily erratic and intense English thespian, Oliver Reed. With both actors also ranking high on my wife Lily’s list of 1970s male film star crushes, there was a lot riding on this watch between Lily’s love of Reed and Testi, and my adoration for both actors and Sollima’s films. Luckily “Revolver” delivers on both of our expectations.

“Revolver” opens in the dead of night where Milo Ruiz (Testi) is carrying his partner in crime who is badly wounded after a security guard shoots him during a burglary attempt. Milo clearly cares deeply for his accomplice in crime who is not going to make it and asks Milo for his dying request to bury him secretly and to keep his dead body out of the hands of the coroners. Milo obliges and he sadly buries his friend in a riverside ditch. After the burial, we cut to the next scene where you have the very Anglo Oliver Reed playing (brace yourself) Vito Cipriani, a tough prison official who spends his nights in the arms of his ridiculously gorgeous wife Anna, played by the luminous Agostina Belli. Everything is all well and good, which based on the genre you know won’t last long, until one day Vito gets a call that his wife has been kidnapped. When the abductor calls, he only asks for one item in return of Vito’s wife, and that is the unofficial release of a prisoner being held in Vito’s jail named Milo Ruiz. As Vito loves his wife dearly, he immediately descends on the prison cell of Milo and begins an intense round of questioning and a bit of beatdown on our wisecracking felon who appears to not be in on the kidnapping and has no ideas who his “friends” are who are stealing wardens’ wives to barter for his freedom. After a few more face slaps and armed with the prospect of early freedom, Milo breaks out with the help of Vito and they begin a Walter Hill/”48 Hours” style relationship of putdowns and punches to the head as they race against the clock to try and rescue Anna. Neither Vito nor Milo knows why they want Milo as their ransom, but, as the movie progresses, we start to realize that Milo may be as innocent as Anna in all this, and that his arrival to these mobsters may mean his own demise.

This plot so far sets up Vito as the classic poliziotteschi protagonist in that he is a by the book official who does everything he can legally, but he even must break the law in order to fight the forces of evil. As corruption was rampant in Italy, the poliziotteschi mirrored Italian’s frustration with a system that could not represent or protect them adequately. The unique twist in “Revolver” is the chemistry that forms between Vito and Milo or should I say Reed and Testi? As Sollima would say in his interview for Blue Underground, Testi was cursed by being so damn “good looking” as no one ever asked him to really act. Testi was a fine actor as evidenced by many of his films during his long career, most notably in Andrzej Żuławski’s brilliant 1975 melodrama, “That Most Important Thing: Love.” Reed was quite possibly the finest English speaking actor of the 1970s, an actor who was most noted for his intensity but was also capable of heart wrenching tenderness as evidenced in Ken Russell’s 1969 film “Women In Love” and 1971 film, “The Devils.” You can see a real friendship developing between Reed and Testi, which translates into their characters, Milo and Vito, who must make hard choices as the plot deepens between the care for a friend, the love of a woman, and ultimately their own self-preservation. Unfortunately, as it was the case for many Euro-crime dramas of the 1970s, both actors’ voices were dubbed into English (why does an English actor like Reed need to be dubbed anyway?) in that same fake American-English accent that sounds like Mel Gibson’s suicidal cop in the “Lethal Weapon” films. Still, Reed and Testi carry so much pathos with just their eyes and gestures that it should be shown to young film actors.

Given the talents of the leads’ ability to handle whatever their roles demand, the plot can and does become quite complex and much credit has to be given to Sollima who co-wrote the screenplay with Massimo De Rita, and Arduino Maiuri. This isn’t a simple plot of revenge as was the case with the other Testi film I wrote about back in August, “The Big Racket,” which was an interesting view if only for its sheer level of brutality and non-stop action. No, with “Revolver” Sollima, De Rita, and Maiuri have created a complex plot and a set of characters that carry very different agendas, which propel the story towards a much unexpected ending. Further solidifying “Revolver” as one of the finest Euro crime film ever is the score by Morricone which in my opinion ranks amongst the best of his 1970s work. It is a bold majestic score that seems more designed for a Leone film, but, given the dark nature of “Revolver’s” plot, the music is an excellent counterbalance in tone that pushes the dramatic hit of more than a few small scenes.

Adding to the majestic nature of “Revolver” is the daring cinematography by Aldo Scavarda, who a decade earlier had lensed Michaelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece, “L’avventura.” Scavarda does very well with the action scenes, especially taking some odd angles with the driving sequences, but he really shines when he focuses on the intimacy between actors. When I set out to write this review, I immediately recalled the first moments of Reed and Agostini on screen which establishes their character’s love for one another via a long, low-level tracking shot of Agostini, in knee high yellow socks, walking around her apartment on the tops of Reed’s bare feet. I also think of a two-shot of Reed and Testi briefly holding hands for a few seconds after they escape an almost deadly encounter: these are simple visual ideas that make this crime drama into an emotionally immersive experience as opposed to just another standard Euro shoot-em-up.

International Trailer for “Revolver”

Based on the interview conducted with Sollima for the DVD release, “Revolver” flopped at the box-office, not because of bad reviews, but for his producers and distributors having foolishly spent all of their ad money when the film was expected to be released in Italy in the fall of 1973 but was not due to unclear delays that pushed the release into spring of the next year. The film was released in the U.S. the following year and was marketed to take advantage of the runaway success of Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” but never found an audience here either. Thanks to Blue Underground for releasing “Revolver,” an exceptional film loaded with exceptional acting by two of the finest acting talents that decade, an excellent score and visuals, and one of the last great films by the late Sergio Sollima.

“Il Grande Racket” Is Director Enzo Castellari’s Nastiest Poliziotteschi

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Testi and Gardenia Talk Shop In “Il Grande Racket”

In the late 1960s, there had already been many American crime films that were able to let the blood and filth flow to show the true stories reflected in the current wave of rapidly growing street crime. Even the subgenre of the serial killer film saw its birth during this time as the American public was finally ready to hear about real life mass killers, Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck in the underrated Leonard Castle film released in September of 1969, “The Honeymoon Killers.” It only makes sense that the public was up for it as the Zodiac Killer was making his murderous way around San Francisco, and the Manson Family had tried their best to start Helter Skelter in March of 1969. The stories that had dominated the evening news in the states were finally allowed to be given the Hollywood treatment in such a graphic way that even the brutally shocking 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film, “Psycho,” had not been able to get away with showing. As far as organized crime was concerned, we had always made gangster films here, but they rarely showed mobsters as they truly were. Even Coppola’s superb 1972 film, “The Godfather,” as violent as it was, still gave the mob a style and even an elegance in the carrying out their wrongdoings that definitely sent the wrong message out to future crime lords living on the East Coast on what the day to day of an organized crime boss was like. Trust me, as an Italian-American growing up in Philadelphia when the Godfather came out, more of my classmates wanted to grow up to be a Michael Corleone than a Richard Nixon.

In Italy during the late 1960s, especially in the south and Sicily, organized crime and the corruption that traveled with it was akin to our street crime in that it was everywhere, especially in urban areas. So during this robust period of the high art films of Antonioni, Fellini, and Pasolini, when the extremely popular genre cinema of the Spaghetti Western was filing box offices in Italy and soon after in the US, the Italians were crafting another genre, The Poliziotteschi, crime films that were reflecting Italy’s growing concerns with the brutality and growth of organized crime that were made without the nostalgia of many of the French New Wave’s low budget crime films. The Poliziotteschis as well as the Spaghetti Westerns took their cues from the new wave of American crime films as far as their brutality was concerned, but it was the realism of the American police films that made the poliziotteschis so intense when it came to revealing the corruption and savagery of organized crime in Italy. As the 1970s rolled in and the Spaghettis started to repeat their plots and even characters (how many Django films were there anyway?), many of the directors of that genre began to also work on the crime film. Such was the case with Enzo Castellari. As far as Italian genre cinema goes, Enzo may be the king with Macaroni Combat films, Spaghetti Westerns, a Giallo here and there and yes, many many Poliziotteschis.

Castellari had scored big with two Poliziotteschis, “High Crime” (1973) and “Street Law” (1974) both starring the original Django, Franco Nero. Franco carried a lot of presence to any film he starred in, but as he was in such high demand, Castellari had to look for another lead for his next entry into the genre, and that actor would be rising international star, Fabio Testi. By 1976, Testi had a few leads in Poliziotteschis, starring in “Blood In The Streets” with Oliver Reed, and “Gang War In Naples” with Jean Seberg. In contrast to Nero’s smoldering sensuality and intensity, Testi was an almost too pretty and brooding actor of the Daniel Day Lewis variety. An accomplished actor, Testi brought a real sadness and empathy to any of the righteous characters of he would play in Italian crime dramas.

In 1976s “Il Grande Racket” (The Big Racket) Testi plays Nico Palmieri, a straight and narrow Rome detective who while witnessing a gang crime is violently attacked and is thrown off a cliff while still in his car in one of the more visually impressive scenes of action in this film. Nico survives, but his righteousness goes into overdrive while in the hospital as he becomes obsessed with taking down this gang who almost did him in and who is also shaking down every local business in the area for protection money. This gang in question, led by an English gangster named Rudy (Joshua Sinclair) is almost surrealistically brutal, almost past the point of most villains in poliziotteschi films, as evidenced in one early scene where a restaurant owner goes to Palmieri to become a prosecution witness after being leaned on for protection. It only takes one cut for the gang to be in possession of the restaurant owner’s young daughter who they gang rape to death in a grotesque scene clearly inspired by the gang rape at the beginning of the American film, “Death Wish.” In a later scene where an Olympic skeet champion aids Palmieri with some shotgun fire during an ambush, Rudy’s gang shows up again to rape and incinerate his wife.

After the gang skips through the judicial system again, Palmieri realizes that he has no ability legally to get Rudy and his posse, so he reaches out to a con friend, Pepe, played by veteran American character actor Vincent Gardenia, the detective in “Death Wish.” The casting of Gardenia is clearly the strongest nod to that revenge film, which was very popular in Italy at the time. He enlists Pepe and Pepe’s nephew to pull a few jobs and guarantees that there won’t be any police interference in order for them to be recruited into Rudy’s gang. When that fails due to some snitch high up, Palmieri is fired from the police force and decides to grab another hood from jail, who is a contract killer, a conman/club owner who had been screwed over by Rudy, the restaurant owner whose daughter had been killed, and the Olympic skeet shooter who lost his wife to form a killing team to wipe out all of the bosses and their henchmen in one spree. As the theme of overall corruption from government, police, and industry is key to many of Castellari’s poliziotteschis, “The Big Racket” has as its final location a manufacturing plant owned by the bosses.

Il Grande Racket Original Trailer

The final scene is done with an immense amount of gunplay, punctuated with the individual revenge fantasies of all of Palmieri’s group. There may not be a better payoff for a revenge film made during the entirety of the Italian crime drama genre. It is a glorious ending to a no holds barred, one hundred minute blast of a movie that for me, goes down as one of the nastiest poliziotteschis. Castellari’s film was indeed a box office hit in Italy, and inspired by the success of this crime film he would reunite with Testi a year later in 1977 and direct, “La via della Droga” (The Heroin Busters), another intensely violent and satisfying poliziotteschi.

Somewhere in between filming “The Big Racket” and “The Heroin Dealers,” Castellari would once again enlist Franco Nero and he would make the last great spaghetti western, “Keoma,” which needs mentioning because as I write this in the summer of 2015, Castellari has announced that he will start filming “Keoma Unchained,” a new Spaghetti where he has enlisted not only his favorite leads, Nero and Testi but also a virtual who’s who of Spaghetti Western royalty: Bud Spencer, Thomas Milian, and American actor John Saxon, the star of one of Castellari’s earliest Westerns, 1968’s “The Three That Shook The West.” Just like Detective Palmieri in “The Big Racket,” no matter what happens, there seems to be no loss of the fight inside Castellari. From Macaroni Combats, Giallos, and post-apocalyptic action films, give the man a genre, and he will crush it no matter what.