The Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection: Mob movie, Italian style
Four films from the man Quentin Tarantino called "the master" of the Italian gangster movie
"The Fernando Di Leo Collection" (RaroVideo)
Fernando Di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, "the master" of the Italian gangster movie. "The Fernando Di Leo Collection" spotlights four of his signature films from the early seventies: "Caliber 9" (aka "Milano Caibro 9"), "The Italian Connection" (aka "La Mala Ordina"), "The Boss" (aka "Il Boss" and "Wipeout!") and "Rulers of the City" (aka "Il padrone della citta" and "Mr. Scarface")
"Caliber 9" (1972), the earliest film in this quartet, opens on a scene like something out of a spy thriller—packages passed from hand to hand until the trade-off in the subway, and then the swaps back until the new package is brought back home—but quickly descends into a sequence of startling brutality, all the more brutal because the characters who are systematically tortured and murdered (blown up by dynamite in a cave in the hills, like something out of a perverse melodrama) are not guilty of the crimes they are suspected of. They are simply expendable.
The debut mob movie from writer/director Fernando Di Leo, a veteran screenwriter of spaghetti westerns who came to "Caliber 9" after directing a handful of giallo and sexploitation pictures, establishes the sensibility of the four gangster films in this box set: a hard, unfeeling brutality, a pitiless expediency and an understanding of who is expendable, who is untouchable, and what happens when those rules are broken, as they invariably, inevitably are. This set limns the boundaries of the Italian mafia movie in four rough, tough, pitiless films of greed, ambition, revenge, corruption and the lie of the criminal code.