Director: Romolo Guerrieri
Raro Video USA

Tomas Milian battles youth-gone-bad in Romolo Guerrieri's YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS, a 1976 Italian crime thriller scripted by Fernando Di Leo (SLAUGHTER HOTEL) out on DVD from Raro Video USA.

Young Lea (Eleonora Giorgi, INFERNO) warns a Milanese police commissioner (Tomas Milian, ALMOST HUMAN) that her boyfriend Luigi Morandi (Max Delys, ANDY WARHOL’S L’AMOUR) – aka “Luis” – and his friends Mario Farra (Stefano Patrizi, MURDER OBSESSION) – aka “Blondie” – and Giovanni Etruschi (Benjamin Lev, EYE IN THE LABYRINTH – aka “Joe” – are planning to stick up a gas station that very morning at 9 A.M. She insists that they are just mixed-up kids who don’t know what they are really risking, and inquiries with their apathetic parents seem to bear this out; so they are both surprised when the robbery turns into a violent shoot-out that leaves the gas station owner and three stakeout cops dead. Luis, Blondie and Joe manage to get past road blocks by switching getaway cars and even catching the bus; however, they are not really on the run. After robbing a bank – and tossing the lute into the scrambling crowd of a farmer’s market – they meet up with “studly” gun-runner Lucio (Diego Abatantuolo, I’M NOT SCARED) and three other “young, violent, dangerous” men to rob a major supermarket before so casually double-crossing their four partners in crime. The three head over to Lea’s as a potential hideout, but Blondie quickly figures out that it was she who sold them out, and she becomes a not-too-imperiled hostage as they take to the road again. Meanwhile, the commissioner and the boys’ parents are left to ponder – while waiting for the inevitable next bloodbath – why three well-off young men have suddenly turned into vicious killers.

That question would seem to be at the very heart of YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS (aka LIBERI, ARMATI, PERICOLOSI), but such sociological questions are abandoned mid-way through after Milian dresses down the parents who see loving their children and providing for them as being mutually exclusive; fortunately, the film does stop short of suggesting that lack of attention explains their crimes, but Luis’ father does ask if the commissioner is justifying their actions by explaining where they [the parents] went wrong. Although Raro’s cover and the poster art would have you believe that this is another Tomas Milian poliziotteschi film, Milian is actually given a prominent credit after the title while Patrizi, Lev and Delys are all given above-the-title billing. The film’s focus is indeed on the young, violent and dangerous youths; and it would have worked had the scripting and acting of the three young leads been on the same level as Milian, who simply follows leads and looks pensive. The primary trio of characters and actors are almost completely one dimensional: Luis is conflicted (but only in as much as to allow him to stand around impotent as violence explodes around him), Joe is fixed in loose-cannon mode, and Blondie is cold and calculating but given to bursts of violence when his manhood is called into question. Late in the film, Lea calls Luis and Blondie on the homoerotic tension between the two of them, which she describes as a mental game of wills; however, the mental game actually seems to be between Blondie and Lea over Luis, and the script and film seem to realize this too late to make effective use of it (although the looks traded between Patrizi and Giorgi are more effective and subtle than those between Patrizi and Delys). There is an interesting scene, however, when Joe and Blondie come across a German father and son camping trip that Joe assumes to be a gay couple (using a more derogatory term), and Blondie seems to look on them as a curiosity. The climax was of course going to hinge on Luis “finding some balls” – as both Lea and Blondie had urged him to do (with different phrasing) – but the people in the film are the only ones who won’t be seeing his final act coming a mile away. In the meantime, however, we are treated to some crowd-pleasing violence (the supermarket scene has the automated sales announcements continuing on the soundtrack during the shooting and looting, and some deaths are abrupt enough to have viewers shaking their heads at how much deeper these characters are digging themselves), and Giorgi gets stripped to provide a distraction to a police helicopter.

After the four have made it past a road block without incident, Joe calls out “La polizia è al servizio del cittadino” – the title of director Romolo Guerrieri’s previous crime film, and “Milano violenta, la polizia non relenta!” – the title of a Mario Ciaino film made the same year – and one of the police officers gives the commissioner one of the newspaper headlines about the case as “La polizia brancola nel buio”, which is the title of an Italian/Turkish giallo made the previous year. The film was one of two screenplays by Fernando Di Leo following his great “Milieu” trilogy that were not helmed by the director (the other being Ruggero Deodato’s LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN). As with NAKED VIOLENCE, CALIBER 9 and THE ITALIAN CONNECTION, Di Leo sought inspiration in another novel by Giorgio Scerbanenco; however – either through the source novel, Di Leo’s initial scripting, or Guerrieri’s changes – it is the least interesting of the four. Co-credited on the screenplay is Nico Ducci, but Ducci may have come in with Guerrieri to make changes since he had previously scripted Guerrieri’s CITY UNDER SIEGE and would later script the director’s COVERT ACTION (Ducci also scripted the late era spaghetti westerns CALIFORNIA and KEOMA. Di Leo’s usual production designer Francesco Cuppini, but his pop-art sensibilities only show up in Lea’s apartment while the rest of the environs are either bland and bureaucratic or rustic. Franco Di Girolamo (ZOMBI 3) is credited with make-up, and there are some gory aftermaths to shootings and a vicious dog attack.

The film was also produced by Armando Novelli, who produced ten of Di Leo’s directorial efforts, as well as the Di Leo-scripted sex comedy SESSO IN TESTA (on US DVD through MYA Communication as ITALIAN SEX, one of their typically nonsensical retitlings). Co-producer Ermano Curti produced Di Leo’s NICK THE STING the same year, as well as Paolo Cavara’s PLOT OF FEAR (forthcoming on disc from Raro). The score credited to Gianfranco Plenizio – a composer better known as a conductor for Guido and Maurizio De Angelis and later Pino Donaggio (following his long-term collaboration with Natale Massara) – and Enrico Pieranunzi has little presence in the film other than the uncredited easy listening title vocal (“Look around you child, see the world gone wild!”) and harmonica instrumental variations on it. Italy’s Beat Records released the soundtrack on CD in 2008 (even they don’t know who sang the song, since the liner notes only make the supposition that it was Ann Collin). Familiar Italian genre faces Venantino Venantini (EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE) and Tom Felleghy (THE CAT O’NINE TAILS) show up as, respectively, Luis’ exporter father and Blondie’s professor father.

While Raro Video USA gave the HD-mastered overhaul to their reissues of Raro Italy’s non-anamorphic transfers of LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN and MURDER OBSESSION, they have brought YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS to NTSC DVD in a single-layer, progressive, non-anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Colors are not particularly vibrant, but that may be down to the décor and costume choices, but the print source is not free from damage. Little bits of debris pop up once in a while, as well as some green stains, and a vertical tear that lasts several frames (the clips in the documentary look far worse, probably VHS). The film is viewable with either English or Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. The Italian track is the way to go with this film; the English dub is fine as far as 1970s dub-jobs go, but the Italian track sounds cleaner and louder (also Lev is even more irritating dubbed into English). On the English track, Luigi Morandi becomes Louis Mayer, Mario Farra becomes Paul Farley (although I’m pretty sure his father is still called “Professor Farra” in the dub), and Giovanni Etruschi becomes Joseph Edward. The optional subtitles also reveal that the Italian dialogue is sometimes cruder than the English dub.

The only substantial extra is the featurette “Ragazzi Fuori” (16:51) featuring Romolo Guerrieri – whose real surname is Girolami (he is the brother of Marino Girolami [ZOMBI HOLOCAUST] and uncle of director Enzo Casterelli [THE LAST SHARK]) – who speaks highly of Di Leo, Scerbanenco, Milian (who he had to persuade to return to “this type of film”) and Giorgi. He also reveals that Lev was absent for a lot of the film, having been stopped by the police and held under suspicion of pushing drugs, and that Guerrieri had to use a stand-in for him for a lot of the shoot (and it’s extremely well hidden). The cover and extras menu promise PDF liner notes (seemingly a cost-cutting move as previous discs, some of which had glossy inserts with brief liner notes while others had impressive Criterion-esque booklets). Although the extras menu instructs the viewer how to access the PDF file using a DVD-ROM drive, the file is absent from the disc folder. The disc does however feature one of Raro’s best main menu montages set to the film’s theme song. (Eric Cotenas)