Thursday, 17 July 2014

Celluloid Sounds - Street Law (1974)

The 1974 ‘Euro-crime’ film Street Law is one of my personal favourites of the cycle. I took a risk on it when I imported Blue Underground’s DVD release of the film back in 2006. But I’ve always found that particular distributor to be very reliable in terms of quality and interest. The film was my entry point into the violent, exciting, reactionary, and uncompromising world of the Italian ‘Euro-crime’ cycle and for this I owe the film a debt of gratitude. The director of the film was Enzo G. Castellari who was no stranger to the various cycles that constituted popular cinema in Italy in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Castellari’s early westerns were rather drab and predictable affairs, singularly unmemorable, and offered little promise of the films to come. The first hint of Castellari’s capabilities came in the war film Eagles over London (1969). He followed this with the dour and lacklustre giallo Cold Eyes of Fear (1971), which unsurprisingly remained his only entry in this cycle.  For the next few years Castellari concentrated on crime pictures, creating an impressive and consistent body of work which included High Crime (1973), The Big Racket (1976), The Heroin Busters (1977), and Day of the Cobra (1980).

The more discerning, knowledgeable, and committed enthusiasts of the ‘Euro-crime’ cycle would probably identify High Crime as the pinnacle of Castellari’s departures into this terrain. But for its sheer energy and entertainment factor it is Street Law for me. The film stars Franco Nero (who also appeared in High Crime, and would later have major roles in Keoma [1976], The Shark Hunter [1979], and Day of the Cobra for Castellari) as a man who takes the law into his own hands, and turns vigilante in order to bring a gang of criminals to justice. He is ably supported in the casting department by Barbara Bach, and Giancarlo Prete, and the screenplay by Arduino Maiuri based on a story by Massimo De Rita follows the template laid down by Death Wish (1974) with aplomb. But a combination of assured action orientated direction (Castellari excels in this area over Michael Winner) and a knockout score courtesy of Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, elevates the film above that which it is mimicking.

The De Angelis brothers were no strangers to the gritty urban terrain of ‘Euro-crime’. They had already provided scores for The Sicilian Connection (1972), High Crime, Violent Professionals (1973), and The Knock-Out Cop (1973) before embarking on Street Law. The soundtrack has had very limited distribution, and wasn’t released on vinyl at the time. A 7” single of the vocal version of Goodbye My Friend backed with the vocal version of Drivin’ All Around by Susi and Guy was released in October 1974 in Italy on RCA Records. But fans of the soundtrack had to wait until April 2002 for a CD release courtesy of GDM CD Club. The CD comprised sixteen tracks, though there is essentially only three pieces of music on the album, as the majority of the tracks are remixed versions of Goodbye My Friend, Drivin’ All Around, and Il Citadino si Ribella (Main Titles). I always tend to avoid trying to analyse music myself, I’m not an expert in this area, and besides I do not believe vocabulary is up to the task. Why read about a piece of music when you can listen to it? I shall leave these tracks to speak for themselves...Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Love this soundtrack. Missed this post of Celluloid Sounds for some damn reason. Nice job as always, amigo. I agree, Michael Winner is a wimp, lame duck action director to the man, Enzo G. Castellari. This was also my gateway film into the Euro-crime world... well, maybe REVOLVER was my first. Anyway, the soundtrack truly elevates the material. It's haunting, strong, and oh so masculine. Listening, you can feel the pain, anger and confusion of man whose wold and sense of self has been totally gutted. God, I do live it so...


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