Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection – film review

Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection
4 stars
Actors: Gastone Moschin, Mario Adorf, Henry Silva, Jack Palance, Barbara Bouchet, Gisela Hahn
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Studio: Raro Video
DVD release: 15 March 2011
Runtime: 410 minutes (4 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Four films: Caliber 9; The Italian Connection; The Boss; Rulers of the City; in Italian with English subtitles, with an additional version dubbed in English; booklet containing a candid interview with the director; each disc contains additional interviews, documentaries and photo galleries.

DVD cover - Fernando Di Leo Crime CollectionMore whiskey, more scantily clad women, more cars and, definitely, more guns – those are the constantly recurring images in this collection of films by one of Poliziotteschi’s (Italo-crime) greatest directors, Fernando Di Leo. Add to that the incredible locations and Luis Enriquez Bacalov’s cool, noir-funk musical score, and this box set of four mob films is a feast for the eyes and ears.

Di Leo, who died in 2003, was the king of Italian crime films. If the mafia was going to exploit and corrupt the working class by infiltrating and coercing union bosses and shopkeepers for protection money, then Di Leo was going to exploit that trend by splattering it across the big screen. And splatter it does: in these four films, there might be five minutes goes by without a fist fight (including women getting socked in the mug), a shoot out (including kids being gunned down), or a car chase through city and country. And in those five minutes, there will surely be macho posturing as partners in crime double-cross one another.

These films aren’t about the forces of prescriptive law overcoming those of evil. Here, crime most assuredly pays and the winners are the outsiders — prostitutes, freelancers — who confront and defeat the organized mobs.

Di Leo laid down the blueprint for future directors of action and crime flicks. Quentin Tarantino, among many others, cites Di Leo as a key influence and Pulp Fiction bears a striking resemblance to The Italian Connection, included in this collection. He also provided a home for has-been American actors, like Jack Palance, who plays a mob boss in Rulers of the City.

Carefully restored and remastered, and loaded with tons of bonus material, this quartet of pictures is a treasure trove for lovers of action cinema as well as film history buffs.

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