Thieves, The / I ladri (1959)

2.0 out of 5

Two decades before Lucio Fulci wowed horror audiences internationally with his incredibly violent Zombi 2 he made his directorial début with I Ladri. The first of a series of comedies, many of which starred Franco and Ciccio, The Thieves was a low key start for a man who decades later would become known as The Godfather Of Gore.

When Commissario Di Savio, played in a suitable Will Hay-like headmaster style by Totò, becomes aware of the return of a Naples gangster from America he vows that he will keep a close watch upon him. It seems that gangster Joe Castagnato has attempted to smuggle his fortune, twenty million pounds worth of gold coins, into the port of Naples by secreting it in jars of jam. The jam and coins however fall into the hands of a family of Neapolitan pretty criminals.

Much of the comedy derives from the interaction between the members of the petty criminal Scognamiglio family but it is the performance of Totò that steals the show. The hubris of the commissioner, as he fails to get the significance of modern police methods such as forensics, is a rich source of humour in this clash of culture and tradition against modernism comedy.

Mostly of interest to Fulci completists this mildly amusing comedy is not especially spectacular but nevertheless worth a look for a stage based song and dance number that shows the later Lucio Fulci style in it's embryonic form.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics