music friday: john prine
germany year zero (roberto rossellini, 1948)

we still kill the old way (elio petri, 1967)

Another movie for "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." Week 29 is called "Poliziotteschi Week".

From Wikipedia:

"Poliziotteschi [films] constitute a subgenre of crime and action films that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s and reached the height of their popularity in the 1970s. They are also known as Italo-crime, Euro-crime, poliziesco, spaghetti crime films, or simply Italian crime films. Influenced by both 1970s French crime films and gritty 1960s and 1970s American cop films and vigilante films, poliziotteschi films were made amidst an atmosphere of socio-political turmoil in Italy and increasing Italian crime rates. The films generally featured graphic and brutal violence, organized crime, car chases, vigilantism, heists, gunfights, and corruption up to the highest levels. The protagonists were generally tough working class loners, willing to act outside a corrupt or overly bureaucratic system."

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen Poliziotteschi film.

Here is why the Challenge exists. I had never seen a Poliziotteschi film, even though the above link lists 100 of them. So this was definitely new to me.

I ran into some technical problems with this one. It was hard to find ... it finally turned up on the Epix Channel. The problem there was twofold. First, the aspect ratio was wrong, from the original 1.85:1 to what looked like 1.33:1. Second, it was a dubbed version. The latter didn't seem so bad, considering how many Italian movies use post sync for their films. Nonetheless, it wasn't ideal, and I would like to see it again sometime with a better version.

We Still Kill the Old Way was interesting, in any event. I think I was unfair with the movie, which is a crime film that takes place in Sicily. I kept waiting for it to turn into The Godfather, but it was never intended to be that kind of gangster movie (another reason I might appreciate it more on a second viewing). Also, the movie didn't exactly match the Wikipedia definition of poliziotteschi films ... there wasn't that much violence, and it wasn't graphic, while the main protagonist, far from being a working class loner, was a professor. Still, there was plenty of corruption in We Still Kill the Old Way, a corruption embedded into society.

The professor, played by an excellent Gian Maria Volonté, tries to solve a murder that occurs early in the film. It's a bit like a procedural, except with a professor instead of a cop. He keeps bumping into the dead ends of the corrupt society. His lawyer friend (the prolific Gabriele Ferzetti) seems helpful, but he really isn't, although it's not clear if he is a Bad Guy or just someone who knows how to get along. Irene Papas also stars as a mysterious woman who seems involved in everything and nothing simultaneously.

In fact, the film is fairly vague about the crime at the center of things. By the end of the film, nothing is resolved. We never find out who was really in charge of the murders. We assume the Mafia is involved, mostly because while the Mafia isn't explicitly identified, it's obvious that sinister figures run things. I was going to say shadowy, but they aren't in the shadows ... they operate, quietly, in plain sight. The professor's quest becomes almost existential. It's not just that he can't get to the bottom of the crime, it's that it feels like the entire society is against him, ultimately leaving him by himself with no real support from friends or colleagues.

We Still Kill the Old Way seems better as I look back on it, so for the third time I'll say that it warrants another viewing.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)