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Against hidden forces, Frederick Stafford tries to uncover a journalist's murderer
"Abuso di potere" (Abuse of Power) aka "Shadows Unseen" is a very good poliziottescho. It appears on some giallo lists but it's definitely a poliziottescho, not a giallo.
The protagonist is a police detective or commissioner, played forcefully by Frederick Stafford. Reluctantly on the road to divorce and sidelined to a trivial job because of his previous resort to police brutality, he is called back to an important job when a journalist is murdered.
Stafford's bosses are played by two very good actors. One is Raymond Pellegrin, a veteran of French cinema, who doesn't want to rock the boat and is content with a superficial investigation. The other is Reinhard Kolldehoff, veteran of German cinema, who is more sympathetic to Stafford's efforts to dig deep into the case. I recognized Kolldehoff from the krimi "Face of the Frog". I've seen Pellegrin in a good many poliziotteschis and other kinds of movies, most recently in "Nous sommes tous les assassins". Several other experienced faces appear too. One is a thug played by red-haired Guido Leontini. The other is a usurer played by Corrado Gaipa.
The story is tight, serious and tense. It is deeply layered with the political context in which the police and especially Stafford find themselves. Early on, before Stafford is brought in, one scene is devoted entirely to bringing out the political quandaries faced by his bosses. They have to contend with vocal newspapers, a demanding public, suspicions, the desires of big moneyed interests, corrupt officials and judges, and the Mafia to keep them from digging too deeply.
Stafford gets a tip at the outset that leads him right to the apparent murderer, but it all seems too easy. The man arrested, Leontini, has a record but he also has beaten many raps and knows how to make the evidence insufficient for conviction. Stafford persists and before long he is either being threatened or offered inducements to lay off.
The story unfolds with a fairly typical detective type story line, but it does maintain some original elements that add interest. The movie tends toward the talky and psychological side as opposed to lots of action. It deals with the dead ends and blockages that Stafford keeps encountering. Toward the end there is a very good car chase through narrow and curvy mountain roads.
I rate it as a very solid 7 (really 7.5). A definite winner for poliziotteschi and detective story fans.
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