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Property Is No Longer A Theft Blu-Ray Review

June 20, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
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Property Is No Longer A Theft Blu-Ray Review  

*Flavio Bucci as Total
*Ugo Tognazzi as The Butcher
*Daria Nicolodi as Anita
*Mario Scaccia as Alessandro Marzo ‘Albertone’
*Orazio Orlando as Brigadier Pirelli

Story: A young bank clerk (Flavio Bucci), denied a loan by his employer, decides to exact his revenge the local butcher (Ugo Tognazzi) who is not only a nasty, violent, greedy piece of work but also one of the bank’s star customers. Quitting his job, the clerk devotes all of his time tormenting the butcher, stealing his possessions one-by-one, including his mistress (Daria Nicolodi).

There’s a statement somewhere within La proprietà non è più un furto (Property is Not A Theft). It’s a very distinct statement, possibly about class warfare or how to succeed in life. The problem is that this film is a jumbled mess, a series of vignettes making a barely coherent whole, so that statement gets lost somewhere in the static. Property is a film that wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to be an artistic statement of some kind but it also wants to be a comedy. It succeeds at neither.

We follow Flavio Bucci as Total, a bank clerk who witnesses a robbery and, after getting denied a loan, decides to pick on a butcher who happens to be very. He takes various items from the man, going up in scale until eventually he’s taking his car and his mistress. This is more or less the plot of the film until the butcher finally decides he’s had enough and tries to take his revenge. There’s a lot of other subplots in there, but none of them really seem to matter in the end.

Property may be more enjoyable if you’re familiar with the 1970s political climate. Or maybe you just have to have a mind for the themes it’s trying to evoke. To the average person, it plays like an unfunny comedy about a bumbling thief who steals from a grumpy old man. Positive reviews praise it for its surrealism, but much like legitimate surrealist art, it’s definitely not for everyone. You’re devoting more time to a film than say, a painting, and as such you want at least some semblance of a coherent narrative.

This movie, even if it’s trying to be surreal, feels more like a mess. If director Elio Petri wanted to comment on capitalism, then he should have made what he wanted to say clear. Is he a strong believer in communism? The character of Total feeling entitled to the things the butcher owns may be seen as that. But the film doesn’t come right out and say what it is, leaving the viewer to guess what it wants to be in the middle of scenes of slapstick and staged vignettes.

If there’s anything positive to be said, it’s that the acting is decent. Bucci commits to his role, as does Ugo Tognazzi and Mario Scaccia. I enjoyed Scaccia in general, playing a thief that has been in the game a lot longer than Total. And of course the oafish Total tries to ruin everything because he’s entitled and inept. If you’re going for comedy, devoting more time to those to may have helped. Mixing politics, arthouse cinema, surrealism and comedy in one film makes for a confusing watch.

Property Is No Longer A Theft is probably better suited for film theorists and studying than those looking for a good film. That said, it never seems to live up to its intellectual aspirations and comes off as a irritating farce. It’s definitely not for everyone, although it’s hard to think of who, exactly, it is for.

Film: 4.0

Arrow Video’s release is presented with an LPCM 2.0 mono track in Italian. I had no problems with the overall sound quality, as it was clear and the score sounded great.

Audio: 7.0

The AVC encoded 1080p transfer is presented in an 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like the audio, it’s technically competent and the video took a few years off of it, although there was still quite a bit of grain.

Video: 7.0

Special Features

My Name is Total: Flavio Bucci goes into detail about his career and this film in a 20-minute interview. He was the blind guy in Suspiria, if you’re wondering where you’ve seen him.

The Middle Class Communist: Producer Claudio Mancini gives his thoughts on the film in a slightly longer interview.

The Best Man: Make-up artist Pierantonio Mecacci talks about working with the director in general before focusing on this film in particular.

It’s an hour’s worth of material, with plenty of stories about the production. It’s about as interesting as the film itself, so your mileage may vary.

Special Features: 4.0

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Property is No Longer a Theft is a middling, confusing effort from director Elio Petri. Arrow Academy's presentation is good, and there are more than enough extras. Whether or not you like the special features will depend largely on your enjoyment of the film. It's a pass, as there are plenty of other great examples of Italian cinema to choose from.