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Crime Batters the Streets of Turin

by Tony Nash

( A Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(Possible Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the Italian language version of the film)

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Torino Violenta (Violent Turin/Double Game) (1977) R ***1/2

George Hilton: Commissario Ugo Moretti

Emanuele Cannarsa: Ispettore Tony Danieli (as Emanuel Cannarsa)

Giussepi Alotta: Unknown Role

Annarita Grapputo: Lucia Danieli

Franco Nebbia: Il Questore Torino Polizia

Laura Ferraro: Maria

Pier Giuseppe Corrado: Walter, Sandra’s Brother

Cinzia Arcuri: Sandra

Lorenzo Gobello: Dottore Guido Borletti

Ruggero Spagnoli: Sandro Donati

Sauro Roma: Colasanti

Loretta Mondino: Marta Borletti

Armando Rossi: Manfredi

Tonino Campa: Franco Solari

Written & Directed by: Carlo Ausino

The Chief of the Turin Police Department assigns inspectors Moretti and Danieli to a series of random crimes ranging from burglary to prostitution to murder that all seem to revolve around a turf war between the local crime syndicate and a band of French exiles. When several young women are murdered, the duo believes they’ve found the link. Unbeknownst to the department and his partner, Moretti is secretly taking to the streets as a vigilante taking out the riff-raff.

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In 1977, independent filmmaker Carlo Ausino decided to try his hand the Euro-Crime genre and took it to the little filmed city of Turin. Turin hardly got the exposure cities like Rome, Sicily, Florence, or even Naples did, and Ausino hoped a new venue of films would result from showcasing the equally nice, but less talked about city. While a less flashy city, Turin still has the flare and history to keep people curious to the varied aspects of Italian culture and those who’re from the city to have both a time capsule to preserve the now gone places and a chance to have their home preserved in the world pf cinema. Taking the common Crime-Cop film theme of a cop tired of the criminals managing to beat the system to continue their terror and taking matters into his own hands, Ausino goes a little deeper by having the cop lose his perspective and the line between justice and murder completely blurs. The addition of a case that connects a string of random crimes with the deaths of young women involved in illicit sex and a war between tow crime syndicates gives a nice mixture to an already curious plot line.

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George Hilton, in his only foray into the Euro-Crime genre, gives a fairly underrated performance as Ugo Moretti. A veteran detective of the Turin police, Moretti fromm the outset appears to be a very dedicated officer determined to keep his city safe, but that his first scene has him gunning down a suspect in cold blood, shows the audience the corruption of the city has seemingly gotten to him. While it’s not harped upon how he ended up as a vigilante, it’s clear Moretti has gotten tired of the criminal scum manipulating the system and decides to give the criminals his own form of justice. Hilton’s cool gaze and his ability to keep his emotions in order serve the character well as he’s able to fool everybody, and maybe even himself, in that he’s doing the citizens and the city a favor by taking care of the scum he and his colleagues can’t get in their official capacity. That he doesn’t seem to have any regrets for his actions shows how far he’s gone down the rabbit hole in his decision to become judge, jury, and executioner of the bad guys. That he cares about his partner tries to help him with his wife and even tries to patch things up with his old girlfriend shows he hasn’t completely lost his humanity.

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Emanuele Cannarsa, a little-known actor from Turin, gives a surprisingly good performance as Danieli. Looking a little like Charles Bronson, Cannarsa has Danieli as a fairly cynical cop who’s become almost completely numb to the nastiness of the streets and the criminal element he has to continuously bring to justice. When he manages to reconcile with his wife, who wasn’t very happy with being a cop’s wife, he gets a new lease and invigoration to make the sure the crooks don’t slowly take over the city. Certain there’s more to the murders at hand than the war between the local hoods and the French expates, Danieli begins to search for the link that ties everything together. When he gets the feeling there’s more to the case at hand than what even his partner believed was there, have him going to all forms of interesting lengths to put together the pieces that’ll bring the low life’s to justice. Cannarsa isn’t the greatest thespian, but his face and his sincerity in his performance makes him an actor that could’ve gone far had he been promoted right.  Like many Italian actors, his voice is dubbed over in this film, but what gives him a leg up is that he’s dubbed by Ferruccio Amendola, an Italian comic actor noted for being the voice of Tomas Milian, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Sylvester Stallone.

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Unfortunately, Torino Violenta didn’t get the praise and cult status that many of its predecessors and contemporaries received. Ausino had no affiliation with any of the major studios or producers, and didn’t have access to the crews or effects teams that his contemporaries did. The ultra-low budget, the only major actor being George Hilton, though his co-star Emanuele Cannarsa could’ve gone very far in the industry had he been marketed more effectively. What many fans hate about the film is the slow pacing and the lack of action. Ausino was looking to keep the genre fresh, and decides to have the film be told not through the eyes of the detectives in charge, but also to focus more on the investigation of the case, and the interactions amongst the characters. This can certainly be boring when fans are used to the films of the likes of Tomas Milian, Maurizio Merli, Luc Merenda, and Franco Gaspari, but the ultra-low budget feel and the cleaver way in which Ausino effectively uses what he has at hand, make a curiosity that still manages to work in spite of its limitations. George Hilton himself even gave high praise for thr Turin cast and crew of the film, stating they had the same professionalism and dedication as any crew in Rome. What little action there is still works very well in the film and hardly looks low budget at all, and gives weight to the story and suspense at hand.

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Certainly not in the Top 10 or 5 of anyone’s Euro-Crime list, or even one of the best films the genre has to offer, Torino Violenta is still an interesting curio that deserves better than what it has been given over the years. Hardly the boring, slow mess critics and fans alike have made it out to be, the film certainly doesn’t follow the traditional elements and themes of the genre, but in its choice to be different offers a breath of fresh air the genre was in great need of. That it doesn’t dwell on the social commentary or political subtext that many of the other great films of the genre did is also a nice change up from the usual fare and sticks closely to the criminal cancer that needed to be eradicated, and to the line all policemen must try to avoid at all costs.

(I do recommend this film as, while it’s viewed as the worst of the Euro-Crime film craze, it’s actually quite good when viewers go into it not expecting it to be much. A low buck effort for sure, the film does its best with what little its cast and crew had to work with. Certainly not the typical type of Actioner fans of the genre are expecting, the characters are still fairly interesting, and how the two plots meld together is well done. The Blu Ray from the Euro Crime box set from Germany offers a really nice picture quality transfer, and decent audio transfers as well. The No Shame DVD of the film is long out of print and, despite most people disliking the film, is something of a Holy Grail among Euro Crime fans due to its rarity and that it includes the previously lost, and equally rare, sequel, Tony, L’altra Faccia della Torino Violenta (Tony, the Other Side of Violent Turin/Tony, Another Double Game), also starring Emanuele Cannarsa.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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