Tarantino’s Inspiration? Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection
In a recently released boxed set, RaroVideo offers viewers the opportunity to screen four films that influenced Quentin Tarantino, the Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection. Watching these relics from the seventies is like watching crude prototypes of Tarantino films. Di Leo, however, included more politics in his script, mafia corruption, and “the degradation of the working classes.” Tarantino is quoted as saying, “I am a huge fan of Italian gangster movies, I’ve seen them all and Fernando di Leo is, without a doubt, the master of this genre.”
The four films that comprise the Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection are in Italian with English subtitles, and are packed with action. That means there’s not all that much reading to do. The casts are largely Italian, with a few American names showing up.
Caliber 9 (1972) tells a familiar story: a guy gets out of jail and wants to go straight, but nobody believes him. Everyone suspects that he knows where $300,000 is stashed, and they’re sure he’s going to dig it up. American actor Lionel Stander appears as—of all things—the “Americano.” Short bursts of violence punctuate Caliber 9 until the last ten minutes when the bodies pile up rapidly. Gastone Moschin stars as the unlucky Ugo Piazza and Barbara Bouchet appears as his “glamorous” go-go girl girlfriend. Caliber 9 is the first installment of Di Leo’s “Milieu Trilogy” that also includes The Italian Connection and The Boss, both included in this collection.
Reportedly the inspiration for Pulp Fiction, The Italian Connection (1972) stars Mario Adorf as Luca Canali in a heroin-laced story (Adorf also appears in Caliber 9 as a vicious mobster). In it, a shipment of horse disappears, a pimp is framed, his family is murdered, and he vows vengeance. The international cast includes Henry Silva and Woody Strode as cold-blooded American hit men, Cyril Cusack, Sylva Koscina, and Jessica Dublin.
Also known as Wipeout!, 1973’s The Boss is Di Leo’s most blatant commentary on corruption. Henry Silva again appears, now in the starring role, and Richard Conte plays Don Corrasco. There are several Dons in the film, which concentrates on “the criminal underworld.” Revenge is a key plot point, and several Mafia families are involved in a battle that begins when a bomb in a Palermo cinema takes out all but one member of a Mafia family (interested in the kind of films Mafia families attend? It wasn’t Bambi).Continued on the next page