Friday, 18 May 2007

Attori a mano armata

This Mediane / Amarkord book and CD combo - the disc is housed in the inside back cover - presents an ideal introduction to the men, music and ephemera of the 1970s Italian cop film.

But, speaking as someone with a passing familiarity with the genre - i.e. I've got some of the previous compilations and seen most of what's available on DVD with English sub or dub, but not gone to the lengths of tracking down old videos or LPs - it's less satisfactory.

If you're like me you'll know who a Ray Lovelock or Maurizio Merli is and want more on the bit and supporting players, those distinctive types whose omnipresence is as much a part of the whole world of these films as, say, a Michael Ripper is to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in Hammer horror.

Much the same goes for the music. While it's good to have a proper version of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis's title theme for Castellari's The Big Racket to go alongside that MP3 ripped direct from the film, there are elsewhere too many of the same over-familiar selections - Micalizzi's Folk and Violence, Bacalov's Summertime Killer, Osanna's Preludio etc.

Perhaps the problem is that when the compilation strays from these familiar waters - that melange of wacka-wacka and chicken scratch guitar, funky polyrhythms, fat analog mono synths, jazz flute, bad ass brass, quaintly inflected English etc. - the selections are generally less inspiring.

Cipriani's Papaya from La polizia chiede aiuto is certainly a nice piece of easy listening to be sure, but it just feels too party scene for me.

Likewise, Franco Campanino's The Climber, from the film of the same name, seeks to channel the spirit of Barry White or Isaac Hayes through Jessy's vocals, while Alessandro Alessandroni's Sangue di sbirro is pretty much an instrumental Shaft knock-off - neither is bad, just not as evocative of that specific time, place and mood as they could have been.

What remains to justify the purchase are the poster, album and other artwork in the booklet and the other less familiar pieces - including, oddly enough, the one new track, Mecco Guidi's "Giulia 1600," a successful channeling of the spirit and sound of the era.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad I got Attori a mano armata, that it's out there and I hope it's successful enough for more volumes like it to come out; it's just I'm not entirely sure how many casual fans there are and whether there's enough in it for those who are more hardcore.


silvio said...

I am always in favor of people who are willing to take risks in what ever field their hobbies are so I was very glad to buy this booklet and CD as a great introduction to the field of the Poliziotti! It is a great way of starting a collection with these great soundtracks of a time long gone by!

K H Brown said...

If you haven't checked out the Pollanet website, by one of the authors of the book, do so - it's got masses of information, including pictures / filmographies for the lesser known actors.