The Big Racket (1976)

Original Title: Il grande racket
Country: Italy
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Starring: Fabio Testi, Vincent Gardenia, Renzo Palmer, Orso Maria Guerrini, Glauco Onorato, Marcella Michelangeli, Romano Puppo
Music: Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis

In 1987, when Robocop was released at the cinemas, I was living in the Central Victorian city of Bendigo. Like most of my peers, I hopped along to the Golden Twin cinemas to see Paul Verhoeven’s cyborg action flick. What really impressed me was not the stylised violence but the moderate language. It proved you could make a good blood and guts movie without every second word being ‘fuck’!

Of course, when it was released on video, with the language re-instated, I released that the version I had seen at the cinemas had been edited and it wasn’t the director’s vision to have ‘clean language’ in his film. That brings as to the Eurocrime thriller The Big Racket, which is a pumped up, tough, stylised cop movie from director Enzo G. Castellari. The English dub of this film is almost laughable in it’s restraint. Instead of calling a character a ‘bastard’, they call him a ‘basket’ (I guess – short for ‘basket case’). And the word ‘shit’ is replaced with ‘diddly’. So in the film, there are great dialogue exchanges like, ‘…we’re up diddly creek without a paddle…we’re in deep diddly…’ It’s a sad reflection on my character, but strangely, this crazy dialogue only added to my enjoyment of the film.

I know that Eurocrime films are formulaic, but one of the reasons I enjoy watching them is ticking off the set pieces I expect to see. In The Big Racket nearly all the boxes are ticked. Fabio Testi, plays Inspector Nico Palmieri. Palmieri is a tough cop, who is continually frustrated by the system and his superiors (tick). Palmieri, is a tough cop, whose partner is killed in the line of duty (tick). Palmieri, is a tough cop, who is kicked off the force for using unconventional methods (tick). Sadly, as each of these scenes is played out on my television screen, I cry out ‘YES’ and pump my fist into the air with approval. The one thing the film is missing, is a car chase through the streets of Rome, and a fruit vendor stall being knocked over – I guess we can’t have everything.

The Big Racket does have a plot about a vicious gang who run a collection racket. As far as Eurocrime plots go, it’s more cohesive than most. But you really don’t need me to outline more than that – it’s loud, dumb, violent – and as far as I am concerned, it’s a great night’s entertainment.

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The Big Racket (1976)

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