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.]