Wednesday, January 19, 2022

#2,696. Street Law (1974) - Spotlight on Italy


Director Enzo Castellari (Eagles Over London, The Inglorious Bastards) teamed up with actor Franco Nero (Django) for this action-packed 1974 Italian crime film.

As Carlo Antonelli (Nero) is in the middle of making a large cash deposit, a trio of armed robbers (Romano Puppo, Nazzareno Zamperla, and Massimo Vanni) storm the bank and make off with his money. With the police dragging their feet, getting nowhere with their investigation, a frustrated Carlo decides to take the law into his own hands and track down the bandits himself.

Ignoring the warnings of his wife Barbara (Barbara Bach), Carlo quickly gets in over his head, but with the help of a low-level crook named Tommy (Giancarlo Prete) he may just have a fighting chance of bringing the thieves to justice.

Franco reportedly did most of his own stunts for Street Law, and by the looks of it Castellari put the actor through hell. At one point, after locating the crooks, the bad guys get the jump on Carlo, beating him to a pulp before tying a rope around him and dragging him through the mud. Later, the poor guy is nearly run over by a car (several times, actually)!

Fortunately, the role's physical demands did nothing to diminish Nero’s performance. He is in top form as the incredibly determined private citizen willing to risk everything to see that justice is done. Giancarlo Prete is also solid as Tommy, the thief who helps Carlo, unwittingly at first (Carlo attempts to blackmail Tommy, insisting he tell him everything he knows about the bank robbers) then eventually of his own accord. Watching the initial mistrust between Carlo and Tommy blossom into a genuine friendship is yet another of the film’s strengths.

What you’ll remember about Street Law, though, are its intense action scenes, some of which are quite violent. The opening credits sequence, which features reenactments of crimes and murders inspired by real-life events, gets the movie off to a bloody start, and the final shoot-out (set in an empty warehouse) is as harrowing as they come.

Street Law is one of the more notable entries in the Poliziotteschi subgenre, also known as Italo-crime or Spaghetti Crime films (Poliziotteschi movies centered on organized crime, vigilantism, and police corruption, and often featured brutal violence and heavy doses of action). It is tense, exhilarating, and – ultimately - a very satisfying motion picture.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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