Alfonso Brescia’s poliziottesco film The New Godfathers (I contrabbandieri di Santa Lucia) is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Raro Video.
A latter example of the subgenre, The New Godfathers tells the story of an unlikely team-up between a narcotics officer and a local Napoli godfather.
When a massive shipment of heroin is determined to be inbound to Italy, Captain Ivano Radevic is tasked with intercepting it. After casing the possibilities, he cleverly works his way up the local criminal ranks and eventually finds an ally in the unlikeliest of people: Don Francesco Autiero (Mario Merola), the cigarette king of Naples.
Don Autiero’s illegal cigarette smuggling trade has made him an influential crime boss, but against the threat of a heroin invasion, he agrees to teaming up with the cops — with the compromise, of course, that they ease off and let him continue his own business unmolested.
The Naples setting, especially of this era, is pretty fascinating, and there’s a unique and conscientious sense of morality to the film that’s intriguing. The Don’s illegal enterprise might seem like a criminal empire, but to him it’s a necessary evil: his inflow of cheap, smuggled cigarettes juices the destitute local economy, providing much-needed employment to the poorest citizens of his community. He visits some of them with his new police friend; among them a grateful mother whose one-room apartment has an open toilet in an area that also serves as the kitchen, barely curtained off from the bedroom area. These are his people, and he their sole benefactor.
It’s an interesting friendship dynamic that’s put into jeopardy when the heroin traders catch wind of the partnership and attempt to sabotage it.
The film ends with an action finale including a pretty spectacular car chase, which I was suprised to learn (from Mike Malloy’s discussion in the extras) was partially lifted from another film and intercut with new footage of the actors. It’s pretty impressive editing.
I enjoyed this film, an entertaining and pleasing — if not mind-blowing — example of the genre with very likable and cheer-worthy protagonists on both sides of the law which work together for a common purpose.
The New Godfathers is new on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber’s Italian cult film label Raro Video. The Blu-ray comes in a standard blue Elite case with Raro’s characteristic black and red motif incorporated in its cover design. It includes both Italian and English versions of the film.
Special Features and Extras
US Release Version of The New Godfathers (1:33:12)
A slightly shorter English dub of the film (the Italian one clocks in at 1:33:57, about a 45 second difference). Note that subtitles are not available for the dub, which is a different video track from the Italian cut.
Mike Malloy on The New Godfathers (16:13)
Italian cult expert and director of the documentary film Eurocrime!, Mike Malloy is the guy you want when it comes to discussing the Italian gangster movies of the 70s. He doesn’t appear on camera but there are plenty of images illustrating the conversation as he goes in detail on the film in the context of its time, its various actors and filmmakers and their careers, and even dropping some pretty hilarious little tidbits about his personal interactions with them. It’s a great extra that’s informative, breezy, and well worth the watch.
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system.