Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973)

Not Rated   |    |  Comedy, Drama

Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973) Poster

A bank cashier, who's allergic to banknotes, quits his job after an armed robbery. He decides to start a new life, as a thief. He starts by targeting a popular former client, a butcher. But being a neurotic Marxist has its drawbacks.


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7 April 2017 | gavin6942
| Society and Its Critic
Total (Flavio Bucci), a young bank cashier, has been wondering for some time if his life, with its grey, dismal prospect, is worth living. He is aware of the illicit careers and rise to riches of many of his clients. He decide to start a new life : new clothes, new cars, new women. His "new look" begins discreetly, a few small robberies in supermarkets, progressing to more important fraud.

Director Elio Petri, best known for "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" (1970), felt that "Property" emphasized the role of money in our society and how power destroys the individual. Although he had left the Communist Party by this point in his life, he still had strong leftist and anti-capitalist leanings that are evoked in this narrative. Even the title is a clear allusion to anarchist writer Proudhon. His producer, Claudio Mancini, has been described s a "middle class Communist", which I think would also suit Petri very well.

Our lead character describes himself as a "Mandrakian Marxist" and others have pointed out that he commits "symbolic thefts (that) expose the hypocrisy inherent in the concept of property." It really is interesting. He has no intention to better himself, but instead prefers to be largely an annoyance to a butcher who visits the bank. A serious thief would, I assume, be planning a bank heist. What systemic change can be achieved by merely making a few things disappear?

Star Flavio Bucci had previously worked with Petri on "The Working Class Goes to Heaven" (1971), though he is best remembered today for his supporting role in Dario Argento's "Suspiria" (1977). Coincidentally, Argento's longtime partner Daria Nicolodi appears in "Property", a year before she ever met Argento. Heck, even cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller would go on to work with Argento on "Deep Red" (1975). The Italian cinema is an incestuous world.

Another reviewer notes the interesting role Nicolodi plays in this world: "As much an object in the Butcher's eyes as his other possessions, Anita represents one of Property's most interesting, and troubling, qualities. Utterly passive in the face of multiple sexual assaults and apparently complicit in her own objectification, Anita is emblematic of one of the uglier aspects of Italian crime cinema of the era." What I find interesting about this casting is that Anita is seen as property (a common sentiment of the time), but this fact is made known to the audience. Nicolodi herself could easily be considered a feminist; whereas Italian cinema was (and is) a man's world, she left her mark on scripts like few other women.

Last, and certainly not least, we should call attention to the under-rated score. The composer, Ennio Morricone, is anything but under-rated. But this is not one of the films he is often associated with, and yet I would say it is some of his finer work. Unfortunately, the Arrow Video release does not have an isolated score track or bonus disc, but if a stand-alone soundtrack does not already exist, I imagine it will soon.

Arrow Video brings us a 4K restoration from the original film negative, and brand-new interviews with actor Flavio Bucci, producer Claudio Mancini, and make-up artist Pierantonio Mecacci (yet another Argento veteran). We learn much about Bucci's career, and his admiration for Mancini (whom he says we owe a great debt to). Mancini speaks widely, including on "Todo Modo", so viewers are able to get a sense of that debt Bucci mentions. Mecacci has plenty of stories about a strike and other noteworthy events, and speaks fondly of his work with Nicolodi; for being the "make-up artist", he was very much involved in every aspect of the shooting.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

4 October 1973



Country of Origin

Italy, France

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