I’ll fully admit that I’m not nearly as well versed with eurocrime flicks as I’d like to be. The italian poliziotteschi films were known for their gritty realism, violence, and great soundtracks. For some reason that isn’t fully clear to me, they are largely under represented on North American releases. We got a boat load of spaghetti westerns, gialli, cannibal films, zombie films, post apocalypic trash, and other genre films during the vhs boom of the 80’s but the eurocrime film was left out in the cold. Arrow Video has tried to remedy this problem by releasing The Climber (1975) on a beautifully presented blu ray. I was unfamiliar with the film but was in the mood for some gritty action so i popped the disc in.
The Climber is about a New York native Aldo (Joe Dallesandro) who has been working in Italy as an underling in a crime syndicate. He’s handsome, ambitious, and capable, he’s also disliked by his boss. When his boss roughs him up for disobeying the rules, he leaves Napoli and heads to Rome where he begins his own crime syndicate, starting with hassling restaurants for protection money. What follows is the rise and downfall of an ambitious crook living in violent world.
Taking a page from films like Scarface (’32) and Black Cesar (1973), The Climber presents an ugly world filled with violence, murder, extortion, fear, and near constant peril. The film features a “rough around the edges” approach that helps instill a sense of immediacy, energy, and animal fear. A polished film would be beautiful to look at but the “in the trenches” vibe of the film helps to immerse the viewer into the rough and tumble world that the characters inhabit. It feels very proto-punk to me with an attitude of youth and rebellion. The world represented in the world is ugly and the film mimics the world aesthetically through shaky camera moves, wild camera angles, and an in the moment feeling that helps to propel it to it’s final violent conclusion. The music in this film is also wonderful. Nearly every song or piece of score feels like macho ass-kicking music meant to instill a sense of invulnerability felt by the film’s protagonist. Our “hero” isn’t a man worth admiring and yet he’s compelling all the same.
The blu looks fantastic. Arrow once again have delivered a beautifully restored print for us to enjoy without any issues whatsoever. The film, i’m sure, has never looked better. Included on the blu are the Italian and English voice tracks, an interview with Joe Dallesandro, and a booklet with liner notes by Roberto Curti. Also included is a dvd of the film.
I really enjoyed The Climber. I went in with no expectations and was rewarded with a film that hit many of the eurocrime staples (violence, motorcycles, macho men, and a bombastic soundtrack). If you are a eurocrime fan, this one is a must buy. If you haven’t dipped your toes into the pool, it’s a solid film to start with.