Sunday, September 13, 2020


Reviewed by Steve Fenton

Excerpt from an English export press synopsis: ‘For no apparent reason, three youths go on a rampage – a spiral of aimless violence that raises fundamental questions about how society can permit such things to happen...’

Press synopsis, from the Foreign Sales Italian Movie Trade newsletter: ‘More violent than CLOCKWORK ORANGE... the story of two [sic!] young men who carry out a hold-up for the fun of it: the beginning of a series of crimes, absurd misdeeds, violence, desperation and murder.’

One murderous punk, to another: “Haven’t you read Freud? Guys who can’t get a hard-on have ta act badass!”

Based upon an original short story by top Italocrime genre author Giorgio Scerbanenco (who, among others, also wrote the source novel on which Fernando di Leo’s NAKED VIOLENCE [a.k.a. I ragazzi del massacro, 1969] was based; a story which shares many thematic similarities to the present film’s), from a screenplay co-written by Italocrime top gun Fernando di Leo, this was yet another urban crime story torn directly from domestic news headlines. This kind of cautionary ‘youth-runs-wild’ scenario had been prevalent at least as far back as rock’n’roll era American JD flicks (e.g., Fred F. Sears’ TEEN-AGE CRIME WAVE [1955]), but herein is modernized and given a distinctly Italian spin. Here, director Romolo “Guerrieri”/Girolami approximates the genre work of his brother Marino Girolami (a.k.a. “Franco Martinelli”) and his nephew Enzo Girolami (a.k.a. “Enzo G. Castellari”). 

In Milan, having graduated from toy popguns to the real deal, three bored bourgeois punks – Paul Farley (Stefano Patrizi; known as Mario, or il Biondo / “Blondie” on Italo prints), Joseph (“Gio”) Edwards and Louis (“Luigi”) Mayan (the latter pair played by Benjamin Lev and Max Delys respectively) – go on a local criminal rampage in a stolen Fiat 125. In advance from Louis’ concerned girlfriend Lia (Eleonora Giorgi), a savvy police inspector (Tomas Milian) learns the location of a proposed robbery by the trio. Acting on this hot tip-off, Milian and his men stake-out the gas station in question, only to have things go horribly awry when, without provocation, Paul guns-down the manager and several cops are also killed as the kids make their reckless, bullet-strewn getaway. Still in need of cash, they then pull a bank-job – resulting in yet another murder – and make off with five-million lire; just for kicks, the robbin’ hoods end up scattering the stolen money out of the car window into the avariciously clutching hands of grateful pedestrians, who swarm upon this sudden unexpected ‘windfall’ like so many flies to you-know-what. 

Using brand-new submachineguns provided by an arms dealer named Lucky (Diego Abatantuono), the boys next stick-up a supermarket; during which Paul takes unfair advantage of the highly-charged atmosphere to eliminate the trio’s unwanted accomplices, Lucky and his gang. By this point, the only one of the three who has not yet committed murder is Louis; so just for ‘security,’ Paul decides to take Louis’ girlfriend Lia along for the joyride. Disgusted by their unauthorized disorganized crime wave, the local Milanese underworld washes its hands of the three, and renege on their original deal to provide the fugitives with fake passports. Public opinion, meanwhile, leans toward a lynch mob as angry citizens demand that justice be done. Unable to escape across the border and hemmed-in on all sides by police roadblocks as the dragnet tightens, the gang goes to ground in farmland outside the city, where their pointless crime spree ends on still another pointless note. 

To compensate for his rather lacklustre direction here, Romolo Guerrieri injects some pertinent and well-intended (albeit weak, dramatically speaking) social commentary espousing the necessity of tender loving care and healthy communication between fathers and their sons in order to avert future criminal inclinations (a valid theory that is still very much prevalent today). Rather than a violent vigilante cop typical of the period, Milian’s character here – an unnamed commissario identified only by his title – leans decidedly towards the Left while bemoaning the shortage of laws on the books (justifiably) designed to punish negligent parents for the criminality of their offspring (“Because we have to eliminate these three monsters you’ve created!”). That same year of ’76, Milian would first appear as his future iconic Nico Giraldi character in Bruno Corbucci’s comedic crime caper THE COP IN BLUE JEANS, who was as different as night from day in both his appearance and attitude from his character in the present film.

Y, V, D’s lawless punks hotwire a new car as casually as changing their underwear, and recklessly play dodgems (a.k.a. ‘bumper cars’) with police Giulias. During their inaugural armed robbery, for greenhorns – chalk it up to beginner’s luck! – they rather-too-effortlessly rub-out several experienced plainclothes cops. By far most annoying of the three is Joe, nicknamed “the village idiot” by the late (un)Lucky. Quick with the wisecracks, maniacal laughter and trigger finger, Joe models himself after a Wild West gunslinger (“The old .44, my sidekick! Billy the Kid’s on the town... look out! BANG! BANG! BANG!”). As the well-meaning but ineffectual Lia – the boys’ faint voice of conscience; their ‘feminine side,’ if you will – Giorgi looks good but mostly plays it like a whiny, self-pitying rich brat while (be it intentionally or unintentionally) fomenting in-fighting among the overaggressive males in her company. After finally being dumped-off by the roadside like so much unwanted excess baggage, Lia’s ruined young life seems to have lost all direction; another potential tangent upon which Guerrieri fails to elucidate. (Although, to be fair, her character really isn’t all that interesting as anything more than window dressing / eye candy. And, truth be told, she really doesn’t warrant that much sympathy [if any], being as how, attracted as she is to ‘bad boys’, she has voluntarily chosen to hang with the ‘wrong crowd’. On a subtextual level, it might well be argued that Lia’s very presence – an attractive female among a group of hot-headed youths – actually helps to encourage their sociopathic acts, unwittingly or not. But enough with the potential over-analysis here already!) 

Milian’s generic Inspector is never once identified by name throughout. Due to his hippy cop performance in Corbucci’s aforementioned then-recent smash-hit THE COP IN BLUE JEANS (a.k.a. Squadra antiscippo, 1976) – which had opened some six months earlier – original Italian newspaper ads for YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS (September ’76) billed Milian prominently as ‘il poliziotto scatenato’ (“The Rebellious Cop”); which is somewhat ironic, as here – despite being a leftist – the actor sports a three-piece grey pinstripe suit and short hair while playing one of his straightest, most by-the-book policemen ever (shades of his part in Carlo Lizzani’s THE VIOLENT FOUR [Banditi a milano, 1968]). Just for the sake of diametric contrast, compare his anarchic socio/psychopath in Umberto Lenzi’s ALMOST HUMAN (a.k.a. Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare, 1974)!

While it lacks much in the way of true visceral punch, YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS  is engaging enough for the first hour or so, then gradually runs out of gas (at almost 100 minutes long, it could easily have been 20 minutes shorter, with some judicious editing). At last precipitating the finale, the cops have the sense to call in the helicopters and tracking dogs, whereafter the insufferable Joe gets his throat torn out by an Alsatian attack dog. Also including some crazy business with mobsters at a scrap metal yard, some passable action outbursts are among this film’s few saving graces. But there are far, far worse ways to spend your time (committing armed robberies, for instance!), so if you’re in any way, shape or form a fan of the Italocrime genre, chances are you’ll derive at least some degree of entertainment value from this. Besides, in comparison to the fuzzy old second-generation VHS dupe I originally watched it on way back when, Cineploit’s brand-new BD presentation is such an infinitely superior upgrade that it can easily be viewed with ‘different eyes’, so to speak. So by all means give it a look.

Blu-ray Specs & DVD Info (by Dennis Capicik):

In what was one of the finer-looking video presentations of any Eurocrime film at that time, YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS was released onto VHS cassette under its original export title of YOUNG, VIOLENT AND DESPERATE courtesy of Lauren Home Video, an obscure American video label that only issued a small number of titles onto to the market, most of which were Italian films (such as Ruggero Deodato’s WAVES OF LUST [1975] and Fernando di Leo’s incredible neo-noir THE BOSS [1973]). Guerrieri’s film eventually made it to Italian DVD in 2005 thanks to Raro Video, but despite the English-friendly audio option, it was not anamorphic, which left plenty of room for improvement. Unfortunately, this very same print was later utilized for Raro’s US disc debut in 2012. Luckily, the folks at Cineploit took the initiative by striking a new 2K transfer of the film, and the results look mighty fine indeed. Compared to Raro’s earlier substandard discs, this is a vast improvement, boasting much clearer overall detail, perfect colour saturation and a healthy amount of natural film grain – it really is just about perfect! Cineploit have also included DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio options in German, English and Italian, with optional subtitles in German and English. 

Extras begin with Liberi, Armati, Pericolosi (15m54s), a wonderful featurette by Eugenio Ercolani, who interviews director Guerrieri, script supervisor Sylvia Petroni and actress Eleonora Giorgi. Guerrieri begins by admitting he (quote) “never managed to make the films I would have wanted”, but has plenty of good things to say about said film, including how he convinced Milian to go against type and play a commissario (“You’ve been going around with a head full of curls playing Monnezza!”) and how he tried to focus more on the human aspect of the characters. Despite his best efforts, however, he was always disappointed when many of these ‘poliziotteschi’ were (quote) “labelled as fascist” by critics. Sylvia Petroni discusses her time working for her father Giulio Petroni on the set of his politically-inclined spaghetti western TEPEPA (1967), as well as her time working with Fernando di Leo, which eventually led to her to her employment by Guerrieri. Although a fairly major presence in the film, Guerrieri was disappointed by his casting of Giorgi; the actress herself admits she was (quote) “just passing by”, and was completely uninterested in working at this stage in her career. Other extras include three separate photo galleries, the first of which highlight the film’s Italian posters and fotobustas while the second and third spotlight video artwork and some wonderful on-set photographs, respectively. As a substantial added bonus, Gianfranco Plenizio’s entire 19-track score (45m34s) is also included. 

As with Cineploit’s other releases, YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS is once again housed in an attractive Mediabook, which  includes a handsomely-illustrated 28-page booklet, predominantly in German, although a print interview with Guerrieri conducted by Ercolani is printed in English. Order the BD from DiabolikDVD here. 

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