Slightly better than its predecessor, Nello Ferrarese’s lamentable GIVE MY CHILD BACK (a.k.a. I FIGLI NON SI TOCCANO, 1978), Mario Bianchi’s I GUAPPI NON SI TOCCANO (1979) is yet another zero-budget effort, this time headlined by Pino Mauro, a Neapolitan crooner who also vied for the top spot alongside the more popular Mario Merola.
A corpse is found in a remote quarry and, to the sounds of Tullio De Piscopo’s rather raucous disco-funk, the police attempt to get on the case, which involves some sort of turf war between an outfit out of Marseilles led by Lucien Maurice (Pino Mauro) and Angelo Jacomino (Enzo D’Ausilio), the boss of the local Italian underworld. Soon thereafter, Tony Lo Bianco (Gabriele Tinti), who turns out to be a former FBI agent, meets with Ferrari (Richard Harrison, discount star of several other Bianchi Italocrime efforts like PROVINCIA VIOLENTA ), some high-ranking commissario who wants him to infiltrate Lucien’s gang. Tony eventually gains Lucien’s trust, and during one strange moment, he and his henchman gawk at Lucien’s pet snake, whose glass cage is mysteriously placed in the middle of his living room. During an attempted heist, most of Lucien’s gang are killed, but Tony and Lucien manage to get away, although, due to his injuries, the latter is rendered virtually comatose while his daughter (Paola Senatore) tends to his wounds in some cheap safehouse. Even though Tony seems to be pitting both gangs against each other, a professional killer (Tommaso Palladino) soon enters into the mix, leading to even more double-crosses.
Like most of Bianchi’s Italocrime efforts, it’s highly unlikely this was ever prepared for the English market, which isn’t all that surprising. This is bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, but at least this time around Bianchi gathered together a fairly interesting cast; and yes, Tinti’s character really is named Tony Lo Bianco, which must have been a deliberate touch on the part of screenwriters Antonio Cucca and Claudio Fragasso. While Tinti carries the entire film as the rather scruffy protagonist, Pino Mauro, whose sideburns seem to have grown ever larger with each successive film he starred in, is also cast against type as a French mobster. However, other than in just one scene of azione where he gets to demonstrate some skills with a double-barreled shotgun, he sits comatose for most of the film, unable to do anything. Busy character actor Tommaso Palladino – who always appeared alongside Enrico Maisto in most Italocrime flicks – appears as the mysterious killer, whose presence is always accompanied by a strange assortment of electronic noodling on the soundtrack, and he is certainly one of the more interesting aspects of the film. At the order of his boss – a disembodied off-screen voice – he will stop at nothing in securing some indeterminate ‘valuable’ documents from Lucien, which eventually leads to the somewhat expected but convoluted climax.
This is a pretty downbeat film, which is nicely scored by Tullio De Piscopo, a talented drummer who also lent his talents to Pasquale Squitieri’s SNIPER (1978), a gloomy, meditative look at the state of affairs in Italy at the time and the effects of violence on its citizens. For I GUAPPI NON SI TOCCANO, De Piscopo’s music definitely lifts this threadbare production out of the muck, but to be honest, Bianchi’s film does have its share of delirious moments interspersed amongst the tedium, and for those in a particularly forgiving frame of mind, it’s still palatable enough for Italocrime or Eurotrash junkies, although an English subtitled-version would be most welcome.
Released on German VHS by SBS as Die UNGREIFBAREN (roughly translated as “The Intangible”), this German-dubbed tape is of comparable quality to the New Pentax VHS out of Italy; both are full-screen and are about as good as can be expected.