Despite their new­ness as a label, the American branch of Raro Video has done a fine job thus far of sup­ply­ing Eurocult fans with hand­some edi­tions of Italian gen­re clas­sics that have nev­er been prop­er­ly avail­able on the­se shores.  They’ve put out anoth­er fine release in this vein with their new edi­tion of To Be Twenty: this swell 2-disc set not only unearths a pre­vi­ous­ly rare shock­er, it also pro­vides the view­er with a crash-course in how the edit­ing process can affect a film at all lev­els.

The first disc offers an uncut, anamor­phic pre­sen­ta­tion of the director’s cut of To Be Twenty.  The result has an appro­pri­ate­ly earthy, col­or­ful look to it and looks very nice for a stan­dard def­i­n­i­tion pre­sen­ta­tion.  It uses the orig­i­nal Italian mono sound­track, with option­al English sub­ti­tles pro­vid­ed.  The sec­ond disc fea­tures an anamor­phic pre­sen­ta­tion (also stan­dard def­i­n­i­tion) of the re-edit­ed producer’s cut that was used for a reis­sue when the director’s cut scared away audi­ences.  This ver­sion fea­tures a mono English dub sound­track and it sounds fine.

This sec­ond ver­sion is so unusu­al that it deserves a lit­tle extra dis­cus­sion. Not only does this ver­sion drop the shock­er end­ing of the orig­i­nal ver­sion, it also rad­i­cal­ly restruc­tures the film, adds some pre­vi­ous­ly unseen footage, uses sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sound­track cues and changes the dia­logue (via redub­bing) to change the film into a hap­py-go-lucky com­e­dy.  Though it is a betray­al of Fernando DiLeo’s vision, it is worth watch­ing to see how edit­ing can com­plete­ly trans­form a film in mean­ing and intent.

There’s only one real extra here but it’s a must-watch for any­one inter­est­ed in the film.  It is a fea­turet­te enti­tled “Twenty Years For A Massacre” and it’s a pret­ty com­pre­hen­sive half-hour piece that inter­views DiLeo as well as a few actors (includ­ing Ray Lovelock).  DiLeo is the anchor of the piece, pro­vid­ing a live­ly and good-humored dis­cus­sion of his oft-mis­un­der­stood film as he cov­ers his views on sex­ism, his feel­ings about his lead actress­es and why the film failed to find suc­cess at the Italian box office.  There’s also a fas­ci­nat­ing bit with a pro­duc­er who dis­cuss­es how and why the film was re-edit­ed, which leads into side-by-side com­par­isons of sce­nes from the two ver­sions of the film.  If you have any inter­est in the film at all, it’s essen­tial view­ing.

The pack­age is round­ed out with a brief image gallery and a text biog­ra­phy and fil­mog­ra­phy for DiLeo.  All in all, this is a thought­ful, gen­er­ous pack­age for fans of Italian gen­re fare and is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed to that fan­base.

[Buyer’s Note: the ini­tial release of this set had some tech­ni­cal prob­lems that caused a freeze-up on the first disc of the set.  Raro has since issued a cor­rect­ed ver­sion of the disc: that was the one watched for this review and it worked fine.  If you hap­pen to get one of the ini­tial prob­lem­at­ic sets, just con­tact RaroVideo U.S.A. about a replace­ment.]