18 September 2007 | Bunuel1976
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? (Massimo Dallamano, 1974) ***
While the original Italian title – THE POLICE ASKS FOR HELP – clearly pigeonholes this one in the then-popular (and incredibly prolific) poliziottesco genre, the English title under which it is better known around the world – WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? – implies a giallo in the same vein as Dallamano’s best-known film, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972). In any case, while both elements are effectively present – a hatchet-wielding murderer is the subject of the climactic manhunt – the police procedural themes are more prevalent.
The film deals with a teenage suicide which eventually uncovers a child prostitution ring which, as usual, includes not just the petty sleazy oddballs (here personified by Franco Fabrizi) but also high-profile professionals (a celebrated doctor) and high-ranking government officials (a Minister). The cast is surprisingly good for this type of genre effort: Claudio Cassinelli (as the investigating Police Chief), Giovanna Ralli (unusually cast as a female D.A.), Mario Adorf as the policeman who finds the first body and also discovers that his own teenage daughter was once a “victim” of these perverts, the afore-mentioned Fabrizi and Hollywood veteran Farley Granger in a smallish role as the first victim’s father.
As usual for Italian genre movies, the music score is an asset and here it is provided by Stelvio Cipriani whose motif, while simple and repetitive, is extremely effective given that it involves children singing gibberish (and thus commenting on the main theme of the movie itself even through its performers). Alarmingly, the end titles claim that every year in Italy, 8000 teenagers run away from home but only a small percentage returns to the fold – the majority are never found!