High Crime (1973) | Enzo G Castellari’s Italian crime thriller starring Franco Nero on Blu-ray and DVD
From Studiocanal comes director Enzo G Castellari’s 1973 Italian-Spanish crime thriller High Crime on Blu-ray and DVD (with a new 4k restoration print).
Franco Nero takes centre stage as Vice-Commissioner Belli, the assistant chief inspector in Genoa investigating Lebanese drug traffickers. Seeking information, he turns to veteran gangster Cafiero (Fernando Rey), but can he be trusted? When Belli’s boss, Commissioner Aldo Scavino (James Whitmore), is murdered, Belli is forced into taking his position – which puts his daughter and his girlfriend (Delia Boccardo) in jeopardy.
Bolstered by Castellari’s eye for edge-of-your-seat action sequences (many of which take place using real traffic), subtle political pretext (drawing on the real-life terrorist assassination of Italian State Police officer, Luigi Calabresi, and the country’s state of unrest), and gritty location filming (in Genoa and Marseille), High Crime was the Italian director’s first foray into the poliziotteschi subgenre. Inspired by Bullitt and The French Connection, High Crime became a massive hit in Italy (under the title, La polizia incrimina la legge assolve) and heralded the first of seven collaborations between Castellari and Nero, who gives one of the most OTT performances of his career.
The restoration makes everything look crisp and pristine (even those dark and dank alleyways in Genoa), so much so that you might find yourself chuckling at the dummies used in the action sequences, as well as Nero’s dyed hair (is it ginger or blonde?). But then his barnstorming turn is the stand-out here, as is the psychedelic prog-rock score by composer brothers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, which is said to have given rise to the Italian groove (and used many times – from Umberto Lenzi’s Napoli Violenta to Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof). The only downside to this release is that it’s the cut version (missing about 10 minutes, including a climactic finale). To see that you have to fork out big bucks for the 2021 German Blu-ray or find the old 23rd Century DVD, The Marseilles Contract.
High Crime is released as part of Studiocanal’s new Cult Classics label that also includes Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968) and Extreme Prejudice (1987). This new release includes interviews with director Castellari and cameraman Girometti, expertly conducted by Eugenio Ercolani. A third featurette, High and Dry, about stunt choreographer Massimo Vanni, is listed, but it doesn’t appear on the preview disc I have.
- A Criminal Conversation – interview director Enzo G Castellari exploring the production of the film 40 years ago.
- The Scene of the Crime – interview with the camera operator Roberto Girometti on his experiences from the film.
LISTEN TO THE SOUNDTRACK HERE