Jun 14, 2014
Maybe it is due to their seemingly innate hatred of cops and authority in general, or overall dubious respect for law and order, but no other filmmakers in the world made better corrupt cop flicks than the Italians, especially in regard to the Guido Poliziotteschi subgenre of the late-1960s and 1970s. Of course, it should be no surprise that Ruggero Deodato (Waves of Lust, The House on the Edge of the Park)—an Italian auteur who had his own fair share of legal trouble relating to his magnum opus Cannibal Holocaust (1980), which features real animal killings and would result in the filmmaker’s arrest for murder due to its snuff-like depictions of death—would contribute a major work to the gloriously ridiculous goombah crime-action subgenre. Penned by the undisputed master of Poliziotteschi flicks, director Fernando Di Leo (Caliber 9, The Boss), Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976) aka Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore aka The Terminators was Deodato’s first and sole contribution to the subgenre yet it also happens to be one of the greatest and most unconventional Italo-crime flicks ever made. Aside from featuring hyper-cynical scenes of ultra-violence, malignant moral retardation, and insane chase scenes (which the director shot during rush hour in downtown Rome without getting the appropriate permits, thus demonstrating his quasi-criminal-like status as a filmmaker), Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is notable for its homoerotic subtext. Indeed, the two pretty boy antihero cops of the film, a blond Nordic (Ray Lovelock) and a brunette Mediterranean (Marc Porel), seem to be one and the same and do literally everything together, especially when it comes to needlessly nasty and rather nihilistic violence and murder of the rather sadistic sort. Indeed, like Giulio Questi’s Django Kill!... If You Live, Shoot! (1967), which features a brigade of fascistic blackshirt cowboy homos, Deodato attempts to make a link between ultra-masculine sadism and sodomy, as if they are one and the same. A sort of gay Guido Starsky & Hutch featuring two old twinks riding around on a crotch-rocket together as if permanently joined ass-to-cock, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is certainly a curious work that demonstrates that Deodato and Di Leo were nothing, if not two of the most cynical Italian filmmakers of their generation, which is certainly no small accomplishment. By no means a masterpiece, Deodato’s film still deserves to be regarded as the dirty dago answer to William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971), as a work that almost single-handedly discredits the claim that the Poliziotteschi subgenre has ‘fascistic’ undertones, as the film is flagrantly anti-fascistic to the core, as an anti-fascist-fag-cop crime thriller where the ambiguously gay cop duo shoots and kills first and asks questions later, even before the criminal has actually committed a crime. Featuring seemingly unintentionally ironic ‘folk ballad’ songs written and sung by Italian-British star Ray Lovelock (who would later star in screenwriter Di Leo's rather underrated 1978 (anti)counter-culture flick Avere vent'anni aka To Be Twenty), Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically and thematically warped cop flicks ever made. After all, what other cop flick would feature Fellini star Alvaro Vitali (Fellini's Roma, Amarcord) as a goofy pornography-addicted apartment building concierge as a form of exceedingly random comic relief?!
Anti-gangster unit gangster-like cops Fred (Marc Porel) and Tony (Ray Lovelock) aka (Al)Fred(o) and (An)Tony(o) are two best buds who do everything together, including fucking, killing and ‘riding’ together. Indeed, during the first scene of Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, Fred drives a motorcycle while Tony sits behind him as if he is his beloved girlfriend and the two are about to have a romantic candlelit dinner. After two sleazy criminals on motorbikes attempt to steal a chick’s purse and drag her bloody and unconscious body down the street, Fred and Tony spend ten minutes chasing them down. In the end, both of the criminals are dead, with the second criminal's death a result of Fred breaking his neck after catching him. After the two criminals are made into roadkill, bystanders who witnessed the chase are shocked to learn that the two men that killed the street thugs are hotshot cops attached to an anti-gang unit. Despite the fact that they seem hopelessly in love with one another, Fred and Tony routinely harass women together, especially a young and beauteous secretary that works at their station named Norma (played by the director’s then-wife Silvia Dionisio, who also starred in Waves of Lust) who rejects their macho posturing, complaining to them, “Masculine supremacy is bullshit, you believe you’re Superman…You invite us to a sumptuous banquet but don’t get past the starters.” Indeed, the police secretary must have taken too many women’s lib classes in college, as she calls Fred and Tony “phallocrats” and goes on and on about how no man has the sexual stamina to adequately sexually satisfy a woman. Of course, the dynamic duo has no problem finding other chicks, including their maid’s daughter and various other random women they bump into. Ultimately, Fred and Tony’s main objective in the film is to take out an elusive and crazed mob boss named Pasquini (Renato Salvatori), who makes for their perfect nemesis, as he matches the two corrupt cocksucker cops in terms of moral bankruptcy and sadism. In between torturing bouncers with fire, using small fish thugs as punching bags, burning up wealthy gangster’s luxurious Cadillacs, and wasting Pasolini protégé Franco Citti (who plays a deranged hostage-taker), the boys engage in a rather primitive, if not always hilarious, form of misogyny and manage to get in a couple girls' panties along the way. As for their enemy Pasquini, he gets his kicks gouging the eyes out of treacherous junkie scumbags. Somewhat humorously, little do Fred and Tony realize that they will face their greatest struggle against Pasquini’s blonde nymphomaniac sister Lina (played by the director’s then-sister-in-law Sofia Dionisio), who proves she has more sexual potency than both cops combined, thus confirming the bitchy police secretary’s remark that men lacked the stamina to completely satisfy a woman. In the end, the dynamic ambiguously gay duo saves the day merely blowing up a boat they just happen to find the detonator for in what is a pathetically anticlimactic ending that seems to be specially designed to piss ‘fascistic’ Poliziotteschi fans off.
Undoubtedly, few things sound less delectable than an anti-fascist Poliziotteschi film with feminist undertones, yet Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man manages to be reasonably entertaining simply because it breaks convention and seems awfully politically incorrect nowadays. In its depiction of cops as sadistic shit-stabbers who are, at the very least, just as depraved as gangsters, Deodato’s film seems to follow commie hero Maxim Gorki’s line of thinking when he once wrote: “Eradicate the homosexual and fascism will disappear.” Naturally, a film like Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man could never been made nowadays, not even in a country like Italy where political correctness has not been nearly as corrosive. Instead, of Deodato’s Poliziotteschi flick, we now have films like the kraut queer flick Freier Fall (2013) aka Free Fall where a young and married rookie cop with a pregnant wife is converted to cocksucking by another young rookie cop who, of course, faces discrimination from other police officers. Considering its absurd and seemingly nonsensical English title, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man should probably be called ‘Dirty Homos’ as a work that, like most films of its subgenre, was clearly influenced by Dirty Harry (1971), albeit with the message inverted to appease to beta-males, communists, and feminists and other human crud. Still, despite its dubious politics, Deodato’s ‘anti-Poliziotteschi’ can actually be enjoyed by real men and would probably be the last sort of film a frigid feminist cow would want to watch, thus making the film’s socio-political subtext ultimately seem pointless, as if the writer and director just wanted to have the pleasure of mocking the unwitting filmgoer. Ironically, the film was trashed by Italian film critics upon its release as it was perceived as ‘fascist,’ or as the director revealed in the featurette Poliziotti Violenti: “B-movies are never considered left-winged. Culture is considered left-winged, so anything that's not an A-movie isn't culture. It's a B-movie, and fascist. But most of these film writers were left-winged. Active left-wingers [...] Italian cinema has always been this way. If you're not cultural, you're right-winged. If you're mediocre and make technical films, you're right-winged. Who can figure it out? When I tried to make a politically-oriented film against the politics of that time, I was called a fascist. Twenty-three years later I was called the first to fight the mass media. The communist newspaper "Manifesto" wanted to tar and feather me. Twenty-three years later they dedicated two color pages to me for CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.” Indeed, like the director’s greatest films, including Cannibal Holocaust, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man features a sort of nihilistic contempt for society and humanity in general, thus making the film mandatory viewing for Deodato fans. The film also happens to be the greatest ambiguously gay cop buddy flick ever made.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 2:05 AM
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