A gritty Italian dirty cop affair pitting a young corrupt officer who has risen in the ranks against his own conscience. Unfortunately for him everyone around him pays the price including his career cop father who assists in one of his criminal acts, and parts company with his son out of disgust.

Soon an avalanche of circumstances is unleashed and we get some top level violence and top notch Fiat chases. Luc Merenda is handsome and just rugged enough to pull off the role which includes a lot of heavily dubbed foley on the fist fights.

Of interest is the depiction of a killer transvestite (I first saw used in Freebie and the Bean also from 1974, a dark, cop-buddy comedy that starred two favorites James Caan and Alan Arkin). There seems to have been some thrill about the very idea of a man dressed as a woman, and the presumed dangers such individuals posed. There were a pair of killer gay men in an old Bond film as well, depicted with similar careless cruelty for the novelty to be sure (not that people of all manner of sexual persuasion aren’t people and also capable of all things human!).

The avalanche of heavy drama gets me thinking that audiences of the period were able to withstand some seriously unhappy endings. For example in the 70s era version of Bronson’s The Mechanic Bronson, of course, dies. When I saw the more recent remake with Jason Stathem I was wholly expecting that ending, but they stole it away and I suddenly felt a little bit peeved. Modern audiences are babied. Sure it’s just movies, and anything really goes in terms of entertainment, but if you’re doing a remake and you change something as fundamental as whether or not your protagonist lives, aren’t you really messing with the function of the story? In this case, as in the case with Shoot First, Die Later, crime absolutely will get you in deep shit. Modern audiences seem to have been raised with a more mild message. Something like: crime is just fine if you have some magical abilities to foresee the future and duck and roll like a top level gymnast.

free on Amazon Prime! More stylish Euro-pulp. Go for it!

2 thoughts on “Shoot First, Die Later (1974)

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