24 December 2001 | ItalianGerry
LA TRATTA DELLE BIANCHE (WHITE SLAVE TRADE) is a sensationalized and semi-tawdry melodrama about a prostitution ring. The women in the cast are a who's-who? of sexy Italian actresses of the period: Eleonora Rossi-Drago, Silvana Pampanini, Tamara Lees, and Sophia Loren (Sofia Lazzaro). Marc Lawrence plays white-slaver Marquedi, a kind of two-bit Jimmy Cagney from American 30's gangster films, a genre which this movie attempts to emulate. He recruits trade by sponsoring marathon dance contests. Rival gang warfare over prostitutes, with the girls stuck in the middle of the fray, forms the nucleus of the film. Vittorio Gassman is Michele, a sleazy hanger-on for the vice syndicate. He and Lawrence both vie for Silvana Pampanini's affections. It's a film that is quite watchable and entertaining but which contains very little depth. There are several very lurid episodes including the brutal beating of Eleonora Rossi-Drago. In both Britain and the U.S. the picture was cut by 30 minutes to a 67 minute running time, atrociously dubbed, retitled to GIRLS MARKED DANGER and dumped in the U.S. by distributor I.F.E. into the grind houses and drive-ins. It was not reviewed by any of the major newspapers although Variety documents it twice. Its director, Luigi Comencini, has made quite a few good films in his career including the legendary BREAD LOVE AND DREAMS and BREAD LOVE AND JEALOUSY (FRISKY) with Gina Lollobrigida, the Italian "Boys' Town" film PROIBITO RUBARE, and an excellent adaptation of Elsa Morante's novel LA STORIA. This must qualify as an interesting guilty pleasure and although it is a distinctly lesser effort of his, it bears reviving and re-evaluating just to see this cast of actresses together in one film.