'Meet Him and Die' (1976)

They don't like a man in uniform.

Meet Him and Die

Director: Franco Prosperi
Cast: Ray Lovelock, Martin Balsam, Elke Sommer
Distributor: Raro Video
Rated: Not Rated
Year: 1976
USDVD release date: 2014-04-01

One fine day, Massimo (Ray Lovelock) tells his mom not to wait up for him. Then he goes out, puts on a ski mask, and bungles an attempted robbery of a jewelry store. When he's thrown in prison with a local drug kingpin (Martin Balsam), we begin to suspect there's more to the story, and these feelings are confirmed by a flashback and helpful expository dialogue. The plot's twists include a break-out and eventual arrival in Genoa on the Riviera, where third-billed Elke Sommer finally shows up as a gangster's moll who likes Massimo because he's such a blond heart-throb who loves his mother.

Such is Meet Him and Die (in Italian, Pronto ad Uccidere or "Ready to Kill"), one of several releases from Raro Video that belong to the violent, action-heavy 1970s fad of Italian cop movies more or less inspired by Dirty Harry and The French Connection. In the liner notes and an onscreen spiel, genre expert Mike Molloy calls it an archetypal example, which is polite for "typical". It's not over the top like Lovelock's Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, also from Raro. Its straightforward hash of elements gets the job done in a genre that runs moral ambiguity almost into nihilism, and there's a curiously ambiguous ending too.

Molloy observes that Lovelock's persona has something of a Serpico vibe, at least if you squint. Many people get shot, and one mark of this genre is that instead of cutting away discreetly from the violence, the movie avidly goes to close-ups of exploding squibs. That's where the money was, both in budget and at the box office. The highlight of action is a dangerous-looking chase between a truck (full of raw eggs!) and a motorcycle down a winding, picturesque road. Apparently this scene and others were instantly recycled in the next Lovelock vehicle, Gangbuster.

If you have any interest in this genre, you can't fault a presentation that offers both the Italian and English tracks. Significantly, the English subtitles are real translations of the Italian track, not transcriptions of the English track, so you can note the differences if so inclined. Molloy helpfully explains the difference between the more general polizieschi (crime films) and the more specific poliziotteschi (Italian crime films), and he also explains that director Franco Prosperi isn't the same Franco Prosperi who made the "mondo" documentaries. Those who prepared the booklet didn't get the memo, and they included the biography of the wrong Prosperi.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.