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Cop Enrico Maria Salerno fights corruption in Genoa
"The police serve the citizens?" is a hard-hitting poliziottescho, coming across as a captivating, realistic and hard-boiled story. I see it also as a 70s style noir, and the story does get darker as it proceeds. For fans of the poliziotteschi, this film should not be missed if there is a chance to view it. It's done well. It's more investigatory cat and mouse, with occasional action, than it is a story with tons of action, chases and shootouts. The emphasis here is more on the personal and psychological conflicts that arise and what people do about them. This also characterizes a noir kind of story.
There is no single template for a 70s style noir. They may involve, however, criminals who have the upper hand or whose violence and corruption of police and officials are reaching new highs. And this prompts sometimes extreme frustration and lashing out by police. The line police are sometimes being frustrated by the staff bureaucratic police or by political pressures. Society is often shown as riven, with criminal elements extracting wealth from the working classes and small business operators, using intimidation or control over vital choke points. The lines between police and criminals are often blurred, with police using informers and practices going against the rule of law. Conversely, the criminals may have corrupted cops.
Genoa is shown as having certain industries, especially food, as being extorted by the criminal element which is well-organized and apparently so well connected that it is untouchable. A local businessman has been killed and made an example of by hoisting him on a hook of a crane near the harbor. Plain clothes inspector Enrico Maria Salerno is on the case. His assistant is a chipper fellow and a ladies man, played by Giuseppe Palmieri. Salerno is a very serious man, completely into his job, at the cost of his marriage and alienation from his teenage son.
Salerno goes through the standard and lawful investigating steps but with increasing frustration. Besides being a crime and police procedural story, the story also reveals the character of Salerno as he goes through his experiences and adopts new and unlawful methods to cope with the roadblocks he keeps encountering. The higher mob figures, for example, have no compunctions about liquidating people lower in the organization to shield themselves.
The story will become more and more gripping, especially in the second half. There are some good twists.
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