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Marseilles Connection, The (aka High Crime) 
Written by: on January 23rd, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1973
Director: Enzo G Castellari
Cast: Franco Nero, James Whitmore, Fernando Rey, Duilio Del Prete, Silvano Tranquilli

DVD released: 2005
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Rating: 18
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: 23rd Century
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £9.99


Synopsis: Commissioner Scavini has a dossier on Mafia corruption which his squad have spent the last two years putting together. His boss doesn’t think the time is right to publish it and his deputy, Belli, is frustrated as they could lock up all of them now rather than keep cleaning up the mess the mafia make. When a Lebanese drug dealer is assassinated whilst in Police Custody, Belli realises that new gangsters are on the block and goes to boss Cafiero to ask for his co-operation in chasing the newcomers down. Unknown to both of them the newcomers have a mole in Cafiero’s gang and his downfall is not far off. Belli implores Scavini to publish the dossier but before Scavini can go to the district attorney he is murdered and Belli steps in to his shoes. Will Belli be able to succeed where his dead boss failed and will Cafiero’s warning about his loved ones prove true?

Enzo Castellari’s films are either sublime pieces of exploitation boasting more intelligence than you could reasonably expect or they are tired no-budget wastes of time. The Marseilles Connection is happily in the former category along with other cracking films like The Big Racket and Inglorious Bastards. The film begins with a car chase involving Belli and an ambulance which shows Belli’s tenacity whilst giving us an idea of what lengths the bad guys will go to when they blow their drug dealer up rather than leave him to spill the beans. From then on, Nero as Belli just won’t stop until he gets the new gang.

Nero is in full hunk mode here with streaked hair and irresistible passion and the bad guys are as nasty as I can recall in a Euro-crime film – they even run over Belli’s 5 year old daughter and emasculate another villain on the golf course. The settings for the film are well used with a motorbike chase on a golf course and a great dockside chase and gory fight with fishhooks. Fernando Rey turns up to twinkle his way through a small role and James Whitmore is very good as Belli’s boss. When the showdown occurs and Belli wins out, there is even a sting in the tail. Marseilles Connection is a very good Euro-Crime thriller with a top notch turn from Franco Nero.

The DVD:

23rd Century have clearly ported this disc from a video. You can see the tracking noise at the bottom of the screen throughout and the tape even jumps at one point. The colours are washed out and completely unbalanced with flesh tones giving all cast members the look of either corpses or people on the verge of hypertension. The full frame presentation is clearly missing information at the sides and the characters do look rather tall at times. The audio is not brilliant but acceptable with a good English dub the soundtrack used.

There are no extras.

This disc seems to be a bit grey market with it only being listed on a few rental sites and on ebay. It is unsurprisingly poor therefore but this is a rather good film and a necessary purchase for any fans of Euro Crime.

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