Violent Cities: Umberto Lenzi's Polizieschi and B-Movie Fascism
This paper examines the critical failure to treat the Italian cop film, or poliziesco, as anything other than a poor cousin of the American crime film. I argue that such a blindness has prevented discussions of the cop film's intervention in larger cultural narratives of postwar Italy, which in turn makes urgent a discussion of the ways the Italian genre departs from the Hollywood prototype. Where most studies of Italian paracinema have noted the generic schizophrenia of Italian trash, the blurred boundaries among all the favored genres of Bruno Mattei, Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino, and Ruggiero Deodato, this paper focuses on the cultural and critical worries that the polizieschi embody and their relation with the theoretical and historical elaborations of gender that occurred in the same period in Italy. A study of the Italian cop film and one of its signature directors provide a number of access points to a more wide-ranging examination of trash cinema and its place within Italian cultural formations of the postwar period, in particular with regard to the discourse of virility.
Paradoxa. A later version was published in volume 20 (2006), "Terrains vagues," which is available from Paradoxa, PO Box 2237, Vashon Island, WA 98070, or on the web at www.paradoxa.com."
Umberto Lenzi; Cop Films
Previously Published As
Paradoxa, v.20 (2006)