Luca il contrabbandiere
The Naples Connection
Contraband was Italian writer/director Lucio Fulci’s only entry into the bitter and cynical terrain of the poliziotteschi. The films status as a departure for Fulci is indicated by the fact that it was made in between Zombi 2 (1979) and City of the Living Dead (1980), and at a time when the poliziotteschi cycle itself was on the decline. With Fulci’s incredibly competent approach to a myriad of genres it seems almost inconceivable now that he didn’t direct a crime picture at the height of the genre’s popularity in 1970’s Italy. One can only assume that either the cycle didn’t interest Fulci from a written point of view, or that no suitable project came to his attention. Either way the result of this is that Contraband has steadily built itself a reputation as a cult curiosity in Fulci’s filmography. Its position has not been helped by substandard and patchwork distribution. Zombi 2 was the most successful film in Fulci’s long and illustrious career, but the film that followed it sank without a trace into a murky distribution limbo. Fortunately this was redressed with the release of Contraband in an uncut form on DVD by American distributor Blue Underground in 2004.
We also have the dependable, but on this occasion workmanlike, presence of Fabio Testi playing the lead character Luca Di Angelo. This is a mobsters vs. mobsters crime flick and Di Angelo is an unlikely criminal with an ideological heart of gold. He is part of a smuggling operation led by his ebullient brother Micky (Enrico Maisto) and we first see them charging up the coastal waterways of Naples in high powered speedboats. This is a mob with socialist principles who smuggle goods for an economically depressed populace who rely on the cheap contraband. The screenplay written by the quartet of Gianni Di Chiara, Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo and Ettore Sanzó is transparent in its leftist sympathies, but the result of this is a far fetched and naïve presentation of the career criminals who inhabit Naples. This is highlighted when an external mob from Marseilles decide to muscle in on the Di Angelo brothers territory in order to smuggle heroin. The ‘good’ criminals are totally opposed to the smuggling of narcotics and rather than make millions by collaborating with the sadistic Marsigliese (Marcel Bozzufi) they decide to oppose him.
© Shaun Anderson 2011