Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the dark comedy/drama PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT(1973) by writer/director Elio Petri. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:

“A bank cashier, who’s allergic to banknotes, quits his job after witnessing an armed robbery and decides to start a new life as a thief. He targets a popular former client, a greedy butcher who will do whatever it takes to keep his bank account intact.” 

This feature has an interesting structure as the action on screen is occasionally broken up by monologues from the main characters. These moments are characterized by the actors occupying a completely dark room by themselves and offering up their thoughts on how their role perceives life. Each of the leads gets this chance so we get to see a tapestry of how these various people stand in conflict not just from a plot standpoint, but also from an ideological angle.

I respected many of the ideas at play and loved the monologues, but the plot itself just did not appeal to my personal tastes. I think the lack of any urgency took away much of the bite for me as I sort of kept waiting for the story to kick into gear. When it finally took off, there were a few illogical story choices along the way (one involving an attempted rape) that made me question the motivations of the tale. By the end I was able to put together the message of sorts, though that aforementioned attempted rape scene just never seemed necessary to the overall plot or character arcs.

Given that this is an Arrow Video release I do feel that I should take a moment to comment upon the overall look of the piece. When it comes to this particular remaster, I was impressed with the transfer as it managed to remain clear, yet also maintain that special sort of graininess that has become a signature of movies from the 1970’s. Given the satiric edge of this picture, the fact that they managed to up the picture quality without completely eschewing the grain allows this to become a more accessible feature without compromising the lurid bite of the film.

All in all, this is an interesting study of greed with some great, theatrical qualities. While the odd story choices made this not my particular cup of tea, cinephiles are sure to appreciate the satiric edge and beautiful new transfer of this movie. Fans of the works of Federico Fellini or Francois Truffaut will find this to be right up their alley.

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Nightmarish Detour

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