This low-budget Italian police procedural about a kidnapped teenage girl was designed strictly for local consumption, but a new DVD edition is trying to nab a confused customer or two by calling it WITHOUT TRACE, like the recent tv series (minus a teeny article). It’s a dreary item about the murder of a sexy little thing and a series of cover-up killings that follow. The last act tries to move the film into giallo territory, those gory Italian crime dramas of the era that Dario Argento & Mario Bava specialized in, but this film, coarsely megged by Mario Caiano, hasn’t an ounce of style. It bumps along from one scene to another as family drama becomes police investigation becomes political cover-up becomes . . . well, something else entirely; and none of it any good. The main appeal undoubtedly lies in getting a number of nubile young pretties naked for the camera to ogle, even a crime lab autopsy room is used for titillation on a corpse. There’s a bit of fun in seeing Antonio Sabato, Sr. done up to pass as a sort of Italian Burt Reynolds, and then realizing that this handsome fellow is Dad to that even more handsome model/actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. But the main story, especially the misogynist slant that’s approvingly used to ‘explain’ the crimes, is too nasty to let you sit back & laugh at the inept filmmaking and hideous synthesized soundtrack. With local product like this, no wonder the Italian cinema collapsed in the ‘70s.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Kurosawa's HIGH AND LOW/'62, based on an Ed McBain story, is hard to beat in the kidnapped kid department.