YEARS OF LEAD ARROW BLU RAY BOX SET

Ahhh finally. Italian ‘poliziotteschi’ cinema finds a home with Arrow. We have seen titles appear on 88 Films, honestly in standard definition releases and with little extra content (but hey getting them out is the thing!) This genre cinema, very much of the B movie ilk, was a direct inspiration for 80s action films. What makes them even more interesting is the social picture of Italy of the period. We see in arthouse cinema from Elio Petri or Francesco Rosi, snapshots of the country. Political corruption, police indifference and a lack of trust in those leading the country. However what ‘poliziotteschi’ brought was the tension of the broader political hostile environment, where widespread acts of left and right-wing terrorism and a palpable breakdown in social cohesion. This all created cynicism, anger and desire for action. To visually express this, along came a series of films that were brutal, ambiguous, violent crime thrillers. In this set is gathered five of the best of these films. Savage Three (1975), Like Rabid Dogs (1976),Colt 38 Special Squad (1976), Highway Racer (1977) and No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973).

As the tag lines say, these were critically decried on release. Fucking critics, what do they know? Well, now taken more seriously and thankfully so. Each film has been restored and packed out to the max with extras. I will get to the important bits. The best film in the set (and this is quite tough) is Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975). Though cut for mouse violence (and if you have a multi region Blu, you can see it in Region A) it is a fun and vicious slice of the genre. The best place for newbies to start is Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976). Tough cops, bold action set pieces and some great muscle. The best film for an audience is Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977), renegade cops reflect the genre perfectly, doing things they shouldn’t to win. Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), is a darker slice of the genre and makes for occasional hard watching. Finally, Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973) might be the sort of film that feels more familiar to those who love the genre. Man is wronged and sets out to take on those who framed him.

DISC

Well done Arrow. Great broad jobs on these discs. Savage Three looks best by an inch. Crisp colour and lighting without leaks, as we see elsewhere. Colt 38 Special Squad has been restored properly. From the camera negative. With an eye to textures. Royal treatment and regal pay off. Highway Racer feels fun but looks like a million dollars. This is admirable. Renewing the clarity, clean lines and colours. Even that dirt. Like Rabid Dogs has a few issues. That is to say there is a grain problem which is the stocks fault and no matter the skill of the remaster master, it ain’t gonna fix it! No, the Case is Happily Resolved saintly good. Well I would expect it indeed. It was a hit on release and quite liked by many

 

EXTRAS

So much. So much. I am still working my way through them but so far, the best is Will Webb excellent and informative essay. Young and old, expert and novice will glean bits of precious data from this. It is also well balanced and visually appealing.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations of all five films, restored from the original camera negatives, including a brand new 2K restoration of Colt 38 Special Squad exclusive to this release
  • Original lossless mono Italian audio on all five films
  • Original lossless mono English audio on Colt 38 Special Squad
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack on Colt 38 Special Squad
  • Poliziotteschi: Violence and Justice in the Years of Lead, a new visual essay by critic Will Webb exploring the recurring traits and themes of the genre
  • Rat Eat Rat, an interview with writer/director Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard on Savage Three
  • The Savage One, an interview with actor Joe Dallesandro on Savage Three
  • When a Murderer Dies, an interview with cinematographer Romano Albani and film historian Fabio Melelli on Like Rabid Dogs
  • It’s Not a Time for Tears, an interview with assistant director Claudio Bernabei on Like Rabid Dogs
  • Music sampler for Like Rabid Dogs
  • Always the Same Ol’ 7 Notes, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani on Colt 38 Special Squad
  • A Tough Guy, an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano on Colt 38 Special Squad
  • Archival introduction to Colt 38 Special Squad by Stelvio Cipriani
  • Faster Than a Bullet, an interview with film historian Roberto Curti on Highway Racer
  • Mother Justice, an interview with writer/director Vittorio Salerno on No, the Case is Happily Resolved
  • Alternate ending to No, the Case is Happily Resolved
  • Original trailers for Like Rabid Dogs, Colt 38 Special Squad and No, the Case is Happily Resolved
  • Poster galleries
  • Reversible sleeves featuring original artwork for all five films
  • Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Troy Howarth, Michael Mackenzie, Rachael Nisbet, Kat Ellinger and James Oliver

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