Years Of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977
No, the Case is Happily Resolved
The 1970s were a time of intense uncertainty and instability in Italy. Political corruption and widespread acts of left and right-wing terrorism, alongside a breakdown in social cohesion and a loss of trust in public institutions such as the government and police, created a febrile atmosphere of cynicism, paranoia and unexploded rage. Throughout this period, these sentiments found expression in a series of brutal, often morally ambiguous crime thrillers which tapped into the atmosphere of violence and instability that defined the so-called Years of Lead.
This box set gathers five films from the heyday of the “poliziotteschi” – the umbrella term used to describe this diverse body of films. In Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975) and Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), random acts of violence committed by vicious young sociopaths threaten the fragile fabric of respectable society. In Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976) and Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977), renegade cops battling against red tape and political corruption turn to new and morally dubious methods to dispense justice. Finally, class dynamics are explored in Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973) as an innocent man finds himself under suspicion for a savage crime committed by a highly respected member of society.
Decried by critics for their supposedly fascistic overtones, the poliziotteschi were in fact more ideologically varied and often considerably more nuanced than such superficial readings would suggest, and proved a huge hit with theatergoers, who responded to their articulation of present-day social concerns.
For the final film in their Years of Lead box set, Arrow Video presents Vittorio Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved, presented on its own on the third dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a high-def master supplied to them by the rights holder.
Though generally decent in the end, Resolved’s presentation is another that clearly comes from an older restoration. The grain has a chunkier look to it, coming off a bit noisy in places, and definition isn’t as crisp as it potentially could be. Having said that, detail levels are still pretty solid, the opening shots in the field maybe being the presentation's strongest moments, and it at least remains consistent throughout; there isn't a moment at any time where I'd say the image looked soft or fuzzy.
Some damage remains but the restoration efforts have cleaned things up impressively, most damage limited to some minor marks along with faint scratches. The booklet indicates Arrow did some colour correction and I suspect it’s because the original master leaned quite a ways warmer, i.e. yellow. There is some evidence of that in some of the blacks that can eat out details, but on the whole the colours look good, blues still managing to show up.
All around it’s a fine enough high-definition presentation, but it could certainly use a refresh.
Arrow only includes an Italian soundtrack for the film, presented in lossless single-channel DTS-HD MA. It’s quite flat on the whole, coming off incredibly one-note with music sounding a bit distorted on occasion. Damage, on the other hand, is not a concern.
The film receives a smattering of supplements. Interestingly, this disc ends up featuring the only *new* feature to this edition (everything across the set has been recycled from previous releases for the films), which is found in a video essay by Will Webb entitled Poliziotteschi: Violence and Justice in the Years of Lead. Running 20-minutes, Webb goes over the common themes and plot points usually found in the Poliziotteschi genre of film, focussing on the five films found in this set, explaining how they reflect the social and political climate in Italy at the time. He breaks the films out into three separate groups (as they're divided out between the three discs I noticed, which I would have to assume was on purpose on Arrow's part), the first group focussing on how society can create the sociopathic criminals represented in the films (Savage Three and Like Rabid Dogs), the second focussing around the use of "technology" and going outside the norms of law enforcement to capture criminals (Colt 38 Special Squad and Highway Racer), and then the third focusing on how social class can play into how law enforcement treats its citizens when investigating a case (No, the Case is Happily Resolved). All of the films also share a lot of the same story points, from bureaucratic nightmares to social status having some sort of say in things, as well as "casual misogyny." It's well put together and edited, nicely contextualizing the films.
The disc then features a handful of material specific to the main feature. There is a 40-minute interview with director Vittorio Salerno (with actor Martine Brochard popping in) talking about the production, which was his first film. He covers the it from original inception through casting, shooting, and eventual release, though not before having to change the ending because producers found his original ending too "pessimistic." That alternate ending is also included here. The ending plays out mostly as it does in the film, but excises one last sequence, having the end credits play over a character walking off. Salerno intended for the ending of the film to be "open" and suggest that one character would go off to basically fight the good fight (even if it was more for his own satisfaction), but producers wanted something more concrete. The film's ending does feel very tacked on, so I wasn't surprised to learn any of this, just like I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the film's actors, Riccardo Cucciolla, didn't care for it.
The disc then closes with a trailer for the film that gives away quite a bit, and then a small poster gallery featuring four posters.
Like the rest of the films in the set the features feel pretty light, but the Salerno interview does a decent job covering the film's production and I did appreciate the essay around Poliziotteschi genre.
As with the other films in the set we get a decent presentation and an interesting handful of supplements, but that's about it.