Season for Assassins / Il tempo degli assassini (1975)

4.0 out of 5

A wayward and nihilist youth film that in many respects is a far more satisfying affair than both Come cani arrabbiati and Liberi armati pericolosi. Rather than simply use the droog-like youngsters as a vehicle to drive forward the action or score cheap political points, the private lives of the youth and their motivation, romantic liaisons and so on are given a far more prominent role in what seems to be an earnest attempt at understanding the corrosive phenomenon.

A hard nosed moralistic cop played by Martin Balsam tries to save society at the point of a gun while a liberal priest endures the wrath of the church hierarchy by serving his God over his church establishment and genuinely trying to save the soul of a complete son of a bitch Little Joe Dallesandro who is so anti establishment he prominently displays his Joe tattoo despite playing a character with a completely different name in an accidental slice of Brechtian theatre.

Rather than portraying the young hoodlums as destructive automotons on an autopilot to nowhereville the movie allows the viewer a glimpse into the thoughts, via dreams and flashback, plus a detailed study of family life and reference to upbringing and social conditions in order to allow an overview of the socialising conditions experienced by the now apparently irredeemably wanton youth. That the film provides such a level of contextualization does not guarantee a happy ending and the conclusion hangs at a point where further debate could possibly be conducive to a clearer understanding.

Offering no easy answers, yet nevertheless posing pertinent questions, the much overlooked Season for Assassins represents one of the high points of social critique within the Italian nihilist youth sub-genre of Eurocrime.

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