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Arizona Colt
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« on: January 02, 2007, 01:25:48 PM »

In 1973 a film entitled HIGH CRIME was released to Italian movie theaters which officially began the Poliziotteschi movies that would be popular there for a good 6-7 years. The film starred Franco Nero and was directed by Italian action specialist Enzo Castellari whose career is bubbling with various bandwagon movies like the JAWS clone THE LAST SHARK, THE WARRIORS rip off 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS and the MAD MAX take THE NEW BARBARIANS. Castellari would return the following year with Nero in tow to direct the DEATH WISH styled STREET LAW also starring Barbara Bach.

Although Castellari has stated in interviews that he started the genre, HIGH CRIME and the films that followed, were all Italian variants of the American films THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE GODFATHER and the two most influential, DEATH WISH and DIRTY HARRY. The one major difference between the Italian and US crime movies was the violence. What the Italians lacked in budget and shooting schedules, they made up for with numerous scenes of brutal and bloody violence. This made Italian cop flicks mainstays in grindhouse cinemas throughout the big cities in the US especially New York.

However, there had been a number of polizio's before HIGH CRIME. These were more crime-noir movies that had a classy flair about them and somewhat convoluted storylines that required your attention. These were, however, no less violent. These would include such greats as Giallo specialist Emilio Miraglia's ASSASSINATION (1967) and Sergio Sollima's REVOLVER (1969) and VIOLENT CITY (1970) starring Henry Silva, Oliver Reed and Charles Bronson respectively. There were also similar cop films that would follow in the wake of HIGH CRIME's popularity. Some of this similarly themed movies are BANDITS OF MILAN (1968), THE BASTARD (1968) and LA POLIZIA RANGRAZIA (1972) a film which has also been said by some fans to have been the first Italian Cop-Crime picture.

I have not seen RANGRAZIA, but from what information I've obtained about it, it involves a special squad of police officers that work outside of the law to catch the criminals. There have been other polizio's that did in fact use this plot device. Films such as COLT .38 SPECIAL SQUAD (1976), ROMA VIOLENTA (1975) a film that is notable for being Maurizio Merli's first crime film and Deodato's interesting LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN (1975) are just a few examples. But which ever film was indeed responsible for the polizio explosion, the films similar in style, tone and plot to HIGH CRIME outweigh those that are similar to LA POLIZIA RANGRAZIA. I only wish now I had picked this curious film up when I had the opportunity.

The most famous of these earlier crime films would have to be Fernando Di Leo's 'mileau' trilogy which began with the seminal MILAN CALIBRE 9 (1971) then continued with MANHUNT (1972) and concluded with THE BOSS (1973). This fascinating series of films was very different from those that followed in that these were soley, and almost exclusively, about the Mafia. Di Leo's modern day DOLLARS trilogy featured such actors as Mario Adorf (AND FOR A ROOF, A SKY FULL OF STARS) Gastone Moschin, Richard Conte (both THE GODFATHER 2), Henry Silva (MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE), Woody Strode (THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE) and Gianni Garko (SARTANA). The first film is widely considered to be the finest example of the Italian crime genre.

One of the most surprising aspects of this series is the performance of Mario Adorf. He was Guiliano Gemma's goofy partner in AND FOR A ROOF... but here, he is frighteningly convincing as the psychotic lead henchman for the mob. In the second film, his performance is even more different. A very versatile actor.

During the shooting of this initial trilogy, Di Leo began writing a second trilogy. This next series consisted of the polizio parody LOADED GUN (1974), NICK THE STING (1975) and concluded with RULERS OF THE CITY (1976). Jack Palance, Woody Strode, Mark Porel and Ursula Andress featured in these films. This second trilogy is not as interesting as the first at least not to me and I have yet to watch NICK THE STING all the way through but the first and second films did nothing for me.

Meanwhile, Castellari was asked again and again to direct more crime films in the wake of his first two hits. He would not return to the genre until 1977s THE BIG RACKET and THE HEROIN BUSTERS both starring Fabio Testi. Since he had seemingly no interest in contributing to the genre further, another popular director would step in and make the crime film his own. That man would be the great Umberto Lenzi. Lenzi, who is best remembered for his down and dirty cannibal-jungle adventures and ultra violent horror pictures, did his best work in the crime and war genres. Castellari would also direct DAY OF THE COBRA (1980) starring Franco Nero and Sybil Danning.

Lenzi began his polizio tenure with the 1973 film MILANO ROVENTE aka GANG WAR IN MILAN starring Antonio Sabato and Phillip Leroy. American gangster Bobby Baroni also starred in this film about three crime bosses vying for control of Milan. Lenzi followed this up with one of the best entries in the genre ALMOST HUMAN (1974). Tomas Milian gives the performance of his life here (his personal favorite role) as a sleazy small time hood involved in an ever escalating series of violent acts that culminates in a great final confrontation with the determined and persistant detective played coldly by Henry Silva. Originally Silva was to play the bad guy but Milian was adamant about taking the role as he'd yet to portray such a violent and sadistic character. Silva would get to play a villain in a later Lenzi crime flick called FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP (1976). Even though he is absent from much of the film, he gets to deliver some great lines. Silva would become one of the most recognizable faces in these movies and also appeared in WEAPONS OF DEATH (1977), CRIMEBUSTERS (1976) and the superbly sleazy CRY OF A PROSTITUTE (1974).

Milian would become a regular in these movies often playing villains and he seemed to enjoy essaying antagonists even moreso than protagonists. He would play a character named Rambo (taken from the original novel FIRST BLOOD) in the 1975 film SYNDICATE SADISTS also starring Joseph Cotten. Here, Rambo is a motorcycle riding anti-hero who comes to town to visit a friend who has recently become a cop. His friend is killed in the line of duty so Rambo steps in and sets about turning the two rival crime syndicates responsible against each other.

That same year, producer Luciano Martino wanted a Franco Nero look-alike to headline a series of crime thrillers. The actor that won this honor was newcomer Maurizio Merli. The film was ROMA VIOLENTA (1975) aka VIOLENT ROME. The film was a huge success and cemented Merli as Italy's new action star of the time. Since Merli did in fact resemble Nero, his critics never took him or his films seriously proclaiming that his success rested soley on his similarities to Nero. This bothered Merli to no end but one thing is certain; Merli was a better athlete than Nero could ever hope to be. Merli performed most of his own stunts and never appeared wooden in his action scenes. Merli would be a favorite of director Lenzi along with Milian. Although the two could not get along, Merli and Milian did at least two movies together, the classic THE CYNIC, THE RAT & THE FIST (1976) and the follow-up ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1977) which featured Milian as a vengeful hunchback....

CONTINUED BELOW...


« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 04:21:08 PM by Arizona Colt » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 11:32:38 AM »

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE...

Merli, while not the best actor, was efficient in the role of the embittered cop who despises a legal system that protects the guilty allowing the innocent to suffer without much hope of legal justice. He seldom got to show any other emotions besides those of anger and an often times sarcastic and callous attitude towards his superiors. But then this type of character suited Merli perfectly and he played it as such but he never escaped the Nero mold created for him despite his desire to do other types of movies to show that he could do something besides shoot a gun and bitch slap the bad guys senseless. He did get to showcase a more subdued cop in Lenzi's final polizio FROM CORLEONE TO BROOKLYN (1979). Here, his character follows the rules and never resorts to excessive force to accomplish his goals. Even with a less violent Merli, the film is still very exciting with action and suspense from start to finish.

However, in IL COMMISSARIO DI FERRO (1977; roughly translated as THE COMMISSIONER OF IRON) Merli gets to display a wide range of emotions for a change in relation to its ironic title. He plays a stoic cop who slowly loses his grip when his son is kidnapped by some criminals. One of the best Massi movies save for the final scene which seems rushed for scheduling reasons which I believe was the case with this film.

Another popular actor who featured quite regularly in Italo crime movies was French model Luc Merenda. Merenda would appear along with frequent American star Richard Conte in Sergio Martino's fine film THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS (1973). This film features a damn fine car chase-smash up during the opening. In several later films, bits of stock footage culled from this chase sequence would be pilfered for other polizio's. Merenda was also discounted by critics but not because of a resemblance to any particular actor, but that he was considered too good looking. Some notable Merenda flicks are NAPOLI SI REBELLA (1977; A MAN CALLED MAGNUM), GAMBLING CITY, THE LAST ROUND (1976; starring boxer Carlos Monzon) and Fernando Di Leo's classic THE KIDNAP SYNDICATE (1975). Merenda also did not get along with Tomas Milian and the two still do not speak kindly of one another.

In 1977 Milian would appear in a dual role again as a hunchback and also as an off kilter mechanic with a curly fro in Lenzi's LA BANDA DEL GOBBO 1976; aka BROTHERS TILL WE DIE. Good use of split screen is utilized here. Milian would also star in his most famous role in Italy. SQUADRA ANTISCIPPO 1976; aka COP IN BLUE JEANS. A series of 11(!) films all starring Milian. Only the first film is serious although I haven't seen the others, I hear the next couple of entries aren't completely deprived of seriousness. All are directed by Bruno Corbucci.

Scores of other cop movies were popping up all over the place such as Massimo Dallamano's COLT .38 SPECIAL SQUAD (1974), THE BLOODY PAYROLL (1978) starring Claudio Cassinelli, THE BLOODY HANDS OF THE LAW (1973) which featured a suitably nasty turn by Klaus Kinski, Ruggero Deodato's sole entry LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN (1975) which is considered to be the most violent of all Italo crime movies even with the scene of the eyeball removal no longer in existence. EMERGENCY SQUAD (1974) starring Gastone Moschin and Tomas Milian, Sergio Grieco's VIOLENCE FOR KICKS (1975) hands down one of the slimiest movies of any genre and the same directors BEAST WITH A GUN (1976) starring Richard Harrison and Helmut Berger. Grieco is without doubt one of the least subtle directors and redefines the word exploitation.

Guiliano Gemma also did a handful of these movies including A MAN ON HIS KNEES (1979) from Damiano Damiani, A MAN TO RESPECT (1973) also starring Kirk Douglas from Michele Lupo, THE BASTARDS (1968) with Kinski as Gemma's brother(!) from Tessari and I AM THE LAW (1977) also starring Claudia Cardinale

One of the best is YOUNG, VIOLENT & DANGEROUS (1976) directed by Castellari's cousin Romolo Gurrieri who also directed numerous bandwagon movies. Here, Tomas Milian plays a detective (in a very unusual character turn) out to arrest three young men who have begun a crime wave in Rome that becomes more and more violent by the day. Written by the master Fernando di Leo, the film follows a similar pattern set down by the previous years VIOLENCE FOR KICKS but does it with a much more professional hand and although it's very violent, the sleaze elements never quite reach the level achieved by the Grieco film.

One film in particular, A SPECIAL GUN FOR TONY SAITTA (1976) aka BLAZING MAGNUM is as good as any introduction to the genre. An Italian & Canadian co-production, the film is wholly unrealistic but is bolstered by a jaw droppingly vicious performance by Stuart Whitman. Martin Landau and John Saxon also star. Saxon, a regular in these movies, is totally wasted as Whitman's partner. Whitman is so nihilistically insane in this movie that your mind wanders from all the illogical situations. Highly recommended for its sheer refusal to adhere to any form of realism and a totally outlandish 7 minute car chase that's one of the best ever seen.

One of the most notable aspects of the genre was that, despite there similarities to American crime flicks, many of these films were based on real incidents that were going on at the time in Italy. Sometimes criminal activity was involved in the films release. A producer was kidnapped and remained missing for a number of years over an unreleased movie called LA BONIDITA-THE BIG RIP-OFF. The film was recently discovered in a box full of Japanese movie reels and was released as a special feature from NoShame on their double disc release of COLT .38 SPECIAL SQUAD.

Meanwhile, Merli would appear in one of his best movies, PAURA IN CITTA' aka FEAR IN THE CITY (1976). Here, Merli goes to extremes not seen in his earlier cop thrillers getting revenge on a crime boss and his gang after the deaths of his family. Guiseppi Rosati directs this surpringly well made movie and is further enhanced by the presence of James Mason. Merli would then participate in a couple of crime flicks with former DP Stelvio Massi such as IL COMMISSARIO DI FERRO (1977) and CONVOY BUSTERS (1978). Around this time, Merli felt that the cop genre had run its course and wanted to try something different. Merli appeared in his first and only western MANNAJA (1977).

However, Merli and Lenzi would collaborate one last time for the final crime movie of both mens careers in FROM CORLEONE TO BROOKLYN (1979). One of the best examples of the genre it is quite surprisingly, a very subtle venture when compared to Umberto Lenzi's other cop movies. It concerns Merli trying to get a witness to testify in America against a powerful Mafia boss. But first, they must get there and go from one obstacle to another to make it to court alive. The somewhat downbeat ending assures that more trouble lies ahead for Merli.

The genre was coming to a close about this time with a few forgettable releases here and there like DOUBLE GAME (1980) starring George Hilton and KILLER VS KILLERS (1985) starring Henry Silva. The genre had its best moments a few years earlier but the genre itself threatens to re-emerge with a new film starring Maurizio Merli's son Matteo. The film is as yet unfinished.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 04:25:32 PM by Arizona Colt » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2007, 12:11:06 PM »

Watched three of these last night......

NAPOLI VIOLENTA (VIOLENT NAPLES) 1976

Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Barry Sullivan

Merli plays Inspector Betti who has been assigned to the crime infested Naples where he brings his police brutality methods with him. At the opening he finds an old enemy of his The Commandante (Barry Sullivan) is around as well as another crime boss Capuono (john Saxon) who plans to do in the big boss Commandante and take over his various protection rackets and other assorted criminal activities. Betti, has no intention of allowing either one to go free much longer.

The film moves along at a brisk pace and is chock full of action and extreme violence that is inherent in this genre. There're bloody shootouts, murdered informants, rape, one helluva chase on motor bikes and one cool setpiece on top of a tram.

Betti's methods ultimately get him into trouble when many undercover officers are killed with one tied to the end of a bowling lane while the Commandante goes for a "strike".

Another striking scene of violence occurs during the tram scene. One of the villains has a female hostage and pushes her head out the window repeatedly bashing her face into the tram on the other side as it passes just before Betti takes him out.

At the finale, Betti uses probably the most unorthodox method imaginable to finally get rid of all the principle villains. Earlier he had turned in his resignation to be placed in his desk should his superior ask for it and Betti, after so many innocent people have been slain, decides to call it quits. As he's leaving he comes to a stop light and sees the little boy he had befriended earlier in the film, now a cripple, trying to cross the street (a trick the kid played at the films opening but was faking it then). Betti tells his friend to take him back to the station.

Director Umberto Lenzi who has directed his fair share of sleaze cinema appears more assured directing these kinds of movies as his direction is very slick compared to other films he has done. He is quite at home doing the action scenes and pulls off some exciting set pieces. He does, however, revel in several instances of extreme violence that was a staple of his films and this genre.

Merli who later appeared in MANNAJA, A MAN CALLED BLADE, is perfect for these kind of roles. Looking a bit like Franco Nero but more adept in the action scenes, he carries a mostly mean and mad look on his face the duration of the film and he's so good at it you can't help but cheer him on each time he nails one of the bad guys. If you've never seen one of these Italian Crime films this is a good place to start.

Merli died in 1989 when he apparently overexerted himself during a tennis match and collapsed. He was 49.

His son Maurizio Matteo Merli has taken up acting and stars in the new Italian cop film COP ON FIRE.

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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2007, 12:42:16 PM »

Next up is.....

MILANO ODIA: LA POLIZIA NON PUO SPARARE (ALMOST HUMAN) 1974

Thomas Milian, Henry Silva, Ray Lovelock, Anita Strindberg

Guilio Sacchi (Thomas Milian in his favorite role) at the opening of the film, is the driver for a bank robbery. When a police man approaches him to move his car he impulsively shoots the cop thus introducing us to one of the slimiest cinematic character portrayals in film ever. The crooks don't want Guilio around anymore so he shacks up with his girlfriend (Strindberg WHO SAW HER DIE?, LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN) and through her spies a very pretty girl from a rich family. Guilio plans to kidnap the girl and hold her for ransom killing her if the father doesn't pay up. Guilio eventually gets the girl but along the way commits some extremely distasteful acts such as when they trace the girl to a house in the woods where they torture and machine gun the inhabitants kids included. The group holes up in an abandoned boat while they wait for their money. Meanwhile, Inspector Grandi (Silva) tries to find them and convince the father they will not let his daughter go even if he pays them. It all ends badly for the principle cast members in one of the most violent films I've ever seen regardless of genre.

Milian owns this movie and turns in his best performance ever. On the 30 minute interview with him on the disc he says this is his favorite performance and initially, he was to play the cop role but opted for the sleazy villain instead as the film is surprisingly, built around the villain for the most part. You really grow to hate his character and want to see him get his in the end.

The angelic Ray Lovelock is suited at Milian's side as he is drawn into Guilio's world and becomes (although on a much smaller scale) a psychopath as well.

Henry Silva, veteran screen heavy is somewhat subdued here as Inspector Grandi and his stone faced, almost inhuman expressions suit the film well as he ultimately succumbs to unorthodox methods to bring Guilio down in a great final scene that is symbolic of the Guilio character.

Umberto Lenzi directs again and pulls off another great little film. There is only one car chase but what an exciting one it is. The remainder of the film is built around Guilio and the evil tactics he uses to survive caring nothing for anyone or anything. The film plays almost like a horror film and if I remember correctly this is how it was marketed on video here.

If you're a Milian fan this release is highly recommended to see him chew through so much scenery.

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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2007, 01:04:09 PM »

The final one I viewed last night/this morning is......

IL CINICO, L'INFAME IL VIOLENTO (THE CYNIC, THE RAT & THE FIST) 1977

Leonardo Tanzi (Maurizio Merli) has a hit put on him by The Chinaman (Thimas Milian) recently released from prison. The hit isn't successful but Tanzi goes along with it faking his death and goes into hiding which lasts for maybe five minutes when he learns Chinaman is working with another mob boss Frank DiMaggio (John Saxon). Tanzi sets about avenging some relatives, busting some of their criminal activities and ruining some of their operations in secret eventually setting the two against each other culminating in a final confrontation between the combatants.

Merli again turns in another tough as nails performance and actually smiles a bit in this one displaying even more charisma. He gets a love interest this time out in the form of Gabriella Lapori.

John Saxon is surprisingly vicious as the NY mob Boss Dimaggio who in one scene does in a suspected informer using golf balls and two big hungry dogs. Saxon, as in the above VIOLENT NAPLES, dubs his own voice. He is equally at home playing nasty villains as he is portraying heroic roles (lots of cops) in his American films.

Milian is again, very, very nasty as the Chinaman although not quite as sleazy as his role in the above film ALMOST HUMAN. He is quite the patient smart-ass and evokes laughter in one scene (of many) where he gives a failed operative the choice of having his left leg or right leg broken in the calmest of voices.

Another fine action crime thriller from Lenzi this one however, has a smattering of humor (some of it black) amidst the many scenes of carnage and is recommended also.

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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2007, 12:24:16 PM »

QUELLI DELLA CALIBRO 38 (1976) COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD

Marcel Bozzuffi, Ivan Rassimov, cameo by Grace Jones(!)

The film begins with a blazing gun battle between Captain Vanni (Bozzuffi) and some crook with high powered artillery. Vanni and his men take out the bad guys one of them the brother of the Marseillaise (Ivan Rassimov) who goes by the name the Black Avenger. The Marseillaise then goes to Vanni's home and executes his wife phoning him afterwards and proclaiming "we're even". Vanni, ready to resign, is given the okay to form a squad of pseudo vigilantes armed with unregistered .38's and go about bringing down the bad guys including the Black Avenger who is wreaking havok blowing up buildings and markets with with illegal dynamite and it's up to Vanni and his group to put an end to the Marseillaise and his men for good.

This was the final film for director Massimo Dallamano who was a good hand at giallo's WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SOLANGE? and WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? the two that come to mind at the moment. Spaghetti Western fans will know him as he was the cinematographer for the DOLLARS films. His career was cut short shortly after finishing this movie when he was killed in a car accident.

As for the movie itself, it is nothing special however, it benefits from some beautiful Italian locations and the photography is noteworthy. The stunts are
exceptional particularly the finale when Vanni must reach the airport before the villain and he pulls off some breathtaking moves in one of those small
European cars on a treacherous dirt road and a train. There are the usual startling scenes of violence and bloodshed that Dallamano handles very well.

The downside and what hurts the film is the storyline and characters. The main thrust of Vanni getting his hands on the Marseillaise is handled rather limply and even the final confrontation is a bit disappointing particularly after the marvelous stunt display that precedes it. The characters are never properly fleshed out most particularly the squad of vigilantes. Amazingly, you never even learn their names save for one, Nico, and even he is underutilized in the characterization department.

Marcel Bozzuffi (THE FRENCH CONNECTION) is a fine actor and convincing in the role of the embittered policeman and he never resorts to the angry mugging that most other actors do in these movies (not a bad thing though).

Rassimov (MAN FROM DEEP RIVER) is suitably vicious as the Black Avenger and his almost satanic visage suits the vilain role well. He gets to do several nasty things to various cast members to make you hate him if only the final moments had been more dramatic it would have been a more satisfying experience.

Grace Jones has a cameo in the disco scene.

The score by Stelvio Cipriani is a fine piece of 70s funky phsychedelia and may in fact be better than the movie which has enough good moments as well as some really nice shots and cinematography to make for a decent timewaster.


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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2007, 12:28:11 PM »

UOMINI SI NASCE POLIZIOTTI SI MUORE (1976) LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN

Marc Porel, Ray Lovelock, Adolfo Celi

Fred (porel) and Tony (Lovelock) are two young undercover cops whose specialty is excessive force or more accurate, kill first and never have to ask
questions later. They foil a robbery and piss off a crime lord, The Boss (Celi) who has their partner gunned down in front of the police station. The two
rogue policemen then go about breaking up his operations as well as going to his home and setting ablaze his guests vehicles. The two cops eventually have a hit put out on them and get the chance to dispatch more of the Boss's gang until a somewhat weak but surprise finale involving the superior of the twovigilante cops.

Ruggero Deodato's warm up before his notorious cannibal flick THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD which led to much publicized scandal with the subsequent classic CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Here Deodato, as usual, shows a keen eye for action and setting up shots. The many accusations that this is the nastiest of the POLIZIOTTESHI is a bit exagerrated. While there is numerous violent scenes and much nudity it seems a bit tame compared to Fulci's CONTRABAND with Fabio Testi. Possibly in lieu of the reception given CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST did this film garner its reputation.

One scene is according to Deodato, lost forever where one of the failed minions of the Boss has his eye gouged out and is summarily squashed underfoot in close up. All you see is the bad guy digging into the socket as it cuts away but the way Deodato describes the scene it was apparently shot almost verbatim in Tarantino's KILL BILL 2.

The two leads are fine although they are completely unsympathetic as they at times are more sadistic than the villains themselves! They both are at the same time arrogant and charming but when the time comes to dispatch crooks they become just as murderous. Marc Porel, a french actor is a dead ringer for Michael Pare and co-star/singer Lovelock contributes a couple of songs to the soundtrack. One thing I noticed and it is confirmed in the 40 minute documentary is the similarities to Porel and Lovelock to the American show STARSKY & HUTCH. One is blonde and the other dark haired as well as wearing similar clothing although Porel-lovelock ride a motorcycle. Lovelock makes mention of this stating that the show had yet to premiere on Italian TV but wondered if the producer had already seen it and incorporated it into the script.

The film was written by Fernando Di Leo who was already a well known director of Italian crime cinema with his Milieu trilogy that featured Henry Silva and
Woody Strode among others.

Deodato's then wife Sylvia Dionisio (as well as her sister; both very pretty) is on hand as well.

The movie is fine if a bit over-rated and has enough original elements to rise above other entries in this genre.

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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2007, 10:58:23 AM »

Lots of interesting leads Arizona.Did you ever bother with any of the Flatfoot series with Bud Spencer (i've only seen trailers)or are they a bit lightweight for your tastes?

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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2007, 12:39:10 PM »

My tastes have no bounds Banjo, some I prefer over others but I'm open to everything. Haven't seen any of those (FLATFOOT series) but lately I have been eyeballing the many Bud and Terence comedies they did in the 70s-80s. Some of the trailers for them look silly but fun little movies. I'll be checking these out in the near future. I found an italian war picture with Gemma  and another one I've been curious about for a while now with Garko and Kinski called FIVE FOR HELL along with about 10 more Crime pictures that sound great. I'm becoming a huge Maurizio Merli fan now thanks to VIOLENT NAPLES and CYNIC THE RAT & THE FIST. Not to mention being floored by Milian's over the top villainous performances in these. He plays heroes too.

One I watched a couple of nights back had him playing a hero named Rambo(!) 7 years before Sly did FIRST BLOOD. The film was SYNDICATE SADISTS from Lenzi and it had Joseph Cotten as the big crime boss.

BTW, did you get the Wild East REASON TO LIVE....it has a different opening than another widescreen "uncut" version I have. The new prologue is a bit rough but afterwards the picture is great. I'm sure WE booted from the recent European release from last year and it's damn fine quality too.

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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2007, 01:21:34 PM »

IL GIUSTIZIERE SFIDA LA CITTA- SYNDICATE SADISTS (1975) aka RAMBO'S REVENGE

Rambo (Tomas Milian) a motor cycle riding tough guy comes to town to visit an old friend of his, a cop who is working on busting up mafia activity in the city. His friend tries to get him to become a cop because of his skills but Rambo refuses. When Rambo's friend and girlfriend is killed by the mob, Rambo takes matters into his own hands and goes about setting the two crime families against each other one of which is holding a rich man's son (who is rescued not once, but twice!) for ransom.

One of the mob leaders, Paterno, (Joseph Cotten) knows Rambo and warns him "You should not have come back." (The real reason for his statement isn't revealed until the finale).

Milian is really good here as the gruff and bearded Rambo who is kind to children, even supporting his friend's family after he is murdered and a one man army when dealing with the mob during many action scenes and chases. Milian got the idea for the character when he picked up a copy of the novel FIRST BLOOD, seven years before Stallone would play the character.

Joseph Cotten is also good as the tragic crime boss who fears for his son played by Adolfo Lastretti. Cotten plays the villain a bit differently then the usual crime boss found in these movies.

Director Lenzi again shows much flair in the action department and again, seems to possess a more professional and polished hand doing these kinds of movies as opposed to his more well known giallo's and cannibal adventures.

This US release features a brief interview with Lenzi (in which he states he wanted the name RAMBO in the original italian title but the producer did not like it) and an audio commentary by him as well.


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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2007, 02:01:25 PM »

ROMA A MANO ARMATA- ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1976) aka ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON aka BRUTAL JUSTICE

Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Ivan Rassimov, Maria Rosaria Ommagio

Inspector Tanzi (Maurizio Merli who played the same character in CYNIC, THE RAT & THE FIST) is driven over the edge by the rampant violence and bloodshed from the criminal elements in Rome. Crooks he catches are released for various reasons- lack of evidence, his soft hearted psychologist girl friend (Maria Rosaria Ommagio). Tanzi, meanwhile, has his hands full with The Hunchback (Tomas Milian) and a rapist kidnapper (Ivan Rassimov) whom Tanzi has much trouble nailing them for their crimes. It all comes to an incredibly violent finale when the Hunchback commandeers an Ambulance just moments after Tanzi has killed off crooks robbing a bank. An impressive chase sequences follows where the Hunchback goes about mindlessly shooting people in the streets to escape Tanzi's grasp.

One of the least subtle action films you'll ever see, Lenzi is in total over the top, take no prisoners mode with the violence so overdone it becomes comical. The film never slows down for a minute and is an adrenaline rush of bloody shootouts, car chases and grimy criminals having their way with society.

Merli, reprising his role of Leonardo Tanzi, is brimming with even more Machismo here than ever before as he goes about knocking off the bad guys by any means necessary. Particularly pissing off his boss played by Arthur Kennedy (LAURENCE OF ARABIA) in the process making for a couple of humorous bits betweent the two actors.

Milian again puts in another sinister villain role as the Hunckback, whose character, although not quite as viciously sadistic as his role in ALMOST HUMAN, is suitably nasty as are most of the cast on hand.

Arthur Kennedy, whose later years consisted of much European productions including the excellent horror picture LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE and THE ANTICHRIST with Mel Ferrer is a long way from his Hollywood roles like THE MAN FROM LARAMIE and the aforementioned LAURENCE OF ARABIA. He did several of these cop thrillers among numerous Italian productions.

Released here as BRUTAL JUSTICE and ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON on video as part of SYBIL DANNING'S ADVENTURE VIDEO. The film was senselessly cut and re-edited.

While not as polished or as sleek as VIOLENT NAPLES but definitely a high octane action film with numerous memorable moments and funny dialog exchanges.

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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2007, 08:26:50 AM »

My tastes have no bounds Banjo, some I prefer over others but I'm open to everything. Haven't seen any of those (FLATFOOT series) but lately I have been eyeballing the many Bud and Terence comedies they did in the 70s-80s. Some of the trailers for them look silly but fun little movies. I'll be checking these out in the near future. I found an italian war picture with Gemma  and another one I've been curious about for a while now with Garko and Kinski called FIVE FOR HELL along with about 10 more Crime pictures that sound great. I'm becoming a huge Maurizio Merli fan now thanks to VIOLENT NAPLES and CYNIC THE RAT & THE FIST. Not to mention being floored by Milian's over the top villainous performances in these. He plays heroes too.

One I watched a couple of nights back had him playing a hero named Rambo(!) 7 years before Sly did FIRST BLOOD. The film was SYNDICATE SADISTS from Lenzi and it had Joseph Cotten as the big crime boss.

BTW, did you get the Wild East REASON TO LIVE....it has a different opening than another widescreen "uncut" version I have. The new prologue is a bit rough but afterwards the picture is great. I'm sure WE booted from the recent European release from last year and it's damn fine quality too.
The Bud & Terence comedies(a mixed bag in quality) are the only non-western Italian films i've seen apart from The Girl & The General which is an anti-war movies set during WW1 starring Rod Steiger and with a Morricone score-i created a thread about this awhile ago.
I'm open to all genres from Italian cinema including horror but i'd be intrigued to hear Titloli's opinions about the titles you've brought to our attention here. Roll Eyes
Yes i'm aiming to pick up that Wildeast release at some point!

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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2007, 10:52:24 AM »

There was a nice italian 2 disc release of ALMOST HUMAN and VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS but the US disc of AH from NoShame had some really nice special features on it. The features on the italian 2 disc set had commentaries but no english subs. I'm sure Titoli has seen the thread but apparently he's not interested or else he would have replied by now. That was the only reason I went through the trouble of typing up the italian titles in the hopes that he would partake in the thread.

The genre itself apparently came to be after the big success of HIGH CRIME (1973) from Castellari and starring Franco Nero. The Crime films exploded after that although I can't help but wonder how much influence films like DIRTY HARRY, THE GODFATHER, FRENCH CONNECTION and most importantly DEATH WISH had on the genre as the italian crime films share much similarities although they often are way more over the top and violent. Pretty much every big spaghetti star did some of these at some point between 73-81.

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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2007, 12:26:08 PM »

PAURA IN CITTA'- FEAR IN THE CITY (1976)

Maurizio Merli, James Mason

Inspector Murri is removed from the police force because of his use of excessive force and when Lettieri, a mob boss, escapes from prison, crime escalates until the police force has no choice but to reinstate Murri much to the chagrin of his commissioner played by James Mason. At first Murri does fine but later in the picture he begins to go over board and in one cool scene three crooks kidnap a priest and Murri hides in the trunk of the getaway car. He later mows the villains down with machine gun fire and even guns one of them down execution style when the crook's gun is jammed. Murri just looks at him for a moment then kills him. The dialog exchange between Murri and the priest is priceless-

"May God forgive you my son, and may you live in peace with your conscious."

"I'm at peace with myself. Not so sure about these corpses. They're the ones who need to be forgiven. Go hit'em with a couple of 'hail mary's'."

Every so often you see a scene in slow motion depicting a beautiful woman and a little girl. It's not difficult to guess this is Murri's wife and daughter but you don't see what happens to them until the final moments in the damn fine finale between Murri and Lantierri.

One of my favorites so far and one of Merli's best. He's incredibly cold and vicious (when the need arises) here more so than the other films I've seen him in. (He was particularly brutal in ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH also). Merli gets to do more than rough up bad guys. He gets a love interest in the form of Silvia Dionisio, who I believe was married to Ruggero Deodato at the time.

James Mason is in several scenes but it seems his bits were probably done over the course of 2 days. His screen time is memorable especially when he stead fastly refuses to reinstate Murri only to receive a phone call from his boss mere seconds later demanding he put Murri on the Lantierri case.

Mason, who is probably best remembered from 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA also did IMO, the scariest vampire movie ever made, SALEMS LOT and starred alongside Perry King, Susan George and Ken Norton in the 1975 hit MANDINGO where Mason plays a slave trader who uses little black boys to relieve his rheumatism among other shocking scenes.

FEAR IN THE CITY boasts fine direction from Guiseppi Rosati who did several other poliziotteshi films and I believe directed the slightly disappointing THOSE DIRTY DOGS! A spaghetti western starring Gianni Garko.




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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2007, 12:55:44 PM »

MILANO TREMA: LA POLIZIA VUOLE GIUSTIZIA- THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS (1973)

Luc Merenda, Richard Conte

Former model Merenda plays another suspended detective (Lt. Giorga) whose boss and friend is killed so he goes undercover and infiltrates the mob taking matters in his own hands. He impresses one of the mob bosses (Conti) and is given a job as a driver for a bank heist. Things go wrong on the job and Giorga is forced to show his hand culminating in him bringing down the crime ring.

The first 10-15 minutes of this film are tense and very violent but the remainder of the film never quite reaches the level of the opening sequence although there is a very exciting car chase later in the film that seems to pop up in small bits in later poliziotteshi films.

Merenda is really good here more so than later roles, in this, his first stab at a DIRTY HARRY type character. Merenda would eventually tire of doing these kind of films and later opened up an antique shop in Italy. Merenda appeared in the spaghetti MAN CALLED AMEN and also RED SUN. He also did movies in nearly every italian genre including a nunsploitation picture!

Conti, perfectly cast here was also in THE GODFATHER, VIOLENT ROME and Fernando Di Leo's THE BOSS the third in his "Mileu" trilogy if I am not mistaken.

Written by spaghetti writer-director Ernesto Gastaldi (7 GUNS FOR MACGREGORS & 7 WOMEN...)

Sergio Martino turns in a fine directorial job showing how adept at action he can be. Martino would specialize in action pictures throughout his career directing MAN CALLED BLADE (1977) with Merli, 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK (1983), BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER (1979) and HANDS OF STEEL which was the last film of Italian actor Claudio Cassinelli who was killed in a helicopter crash during the filming.


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