Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)

Fred and Tony are members of an elite ‘special squad’ of police in Rome, Italy whom are licensed-to-kill, undercover cops whom thrive on living dangerously.

Despite its almost cartoonish violence, Ruggero Deodato really kept pushing boundaries for extreme violence and sadism with this piece of nihilistic mayhem.

Alfredo (Marc Porel) and Antonio (Ray Lovelock) are two policemen belonging to a special anti-crime unit who are given carte-blanche in their actions against organized crime in Rome. Their working methods are of the “shoot first, ask questions later” kind, and their daily routines consists of killing just about everybody before they even committed the crime.

The film kicks off with an exciting motorbike chase during rush hour through the streets of Rome, during which a blind man’s guide dog is casually run over by our two heroes. At the end of the chase, one of the badly hurt criminals is put out of his misery when Antonio snaps his neck before the other police officers arrive. During an inquiring visit to a villa on the edge of Rome where apparently the top bosses have gathered, they knock out some bodyguards, and – instead of arresting them – set the whole car park on fire, before going home to their shared apartment and smoke another packet of cigarettes. All this violence is delivered in such a casual tone, I can imagine this will offset most viewers. Personally, I don’t see that much trouble since no person in the film is anything more than a cardboard character and the film never rises above the level of comic-book theatrics. And hey, what else can you expect from Italian crime thrillers? Generally, our two cop buddies lead the life every testosterone-driven man dreams off, which is setting cars on fire, shoot their guns and, between crime-fighting, chase women all day.

Alfredo and Antonio have a bit of an odd living situation. Apparently, they are such close buddies, they live together in the same apartment. They even share the same room and they also share the same motorcycle. In fact, they never seem to do anything on their own. The original story hinted at this hidden homosexual component between the two men, but in the film it’s subdued, since Alfredo and Antonio’s behaviour is all raging heterosexuality and they chase everything female that moves.

Also, the first thing that springs to mind when watching this is the TV-show “Starsky and Hutch.” Two cops, one blonde, one black-haired roaming the streets, but the show hadn’t aired yet in Italy at the time the film was being made. Even if it was pure coincidence, the resemblance is obvious, although Alfredo and Antonio’s methods are admittedly a little more extreme than their American counterparts. In an interview Ray Lovelock mentions the resemblance, but he can only speculate if the two main characters were influenced by “Starsky and Hutch.” So far, Deodato keeps his mouth shut about the issue.

And pay attention to the scenes where the men ride the motorcycle together. Marc Porel is driving while Ray Lovelock is sitting behind him and constantly looks from left to right in ridiculous fashion (Deodato’s instructed this because the camera was in front of the two men and it was the only way Lovelock could be caught on camera). The story goes that Porel blocked Lovelock from the camera on purpose and that this little incident was the main reason the two actors didn’t get along and the much awaited sequel was never made.