Occupying a creepy cinematic netherworld somewhere between Eurocrime and erotica, Carlo Lizzani's Teenage Prostitution Racket (Storie di Vita e Malavita) is an unapologetically sordid film that explores the troubled sexuality of a series of young women coming of age in 1970s Milan. Beginning on the outskirts
of town, where a peasant woman pimps her thirteen-year-old companion to passing truck drivers, Lizzani's film worms its way into the metropolis, where
the oldest profession, in its varied forms, is dramatized in a series of interlocking narratives. A working-class girl is lured into prostitution by a boyfriend; a rich girl uses sex to rebel against her wealthy parents; a photographer's model discovers sex is an unspoken requirement of her job; an ex-convent girl becomes a nymphomaniac after being seduced at school; an independent hooker relies on a vicious dog to defend her against a gang of mobsters. As sensational as the episodes may be, Lizzani doesn't reduce the characters to mere sex objects. Instead, he endows each woman with enough depth that even the most voyeuristic viewer can't help but become invested in her struggles to survive, and share her resentment toward the shady characters who try to control her.