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Emergency Squad (1974)
"Squadra volante" (original title)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gastone Moschin ...
Ray Lovelock ...
Mario Carotenuto ...
Stefania Casini ...
Guido Leontini ...
Ilaria Guerrini ...
Giuseppe Castellano ...
Marcello Venditti ...
Gabriella Cotignoli
Fabrizio Mazzotti
Nino D'Errico ...
Leonardi (as Nino Curatola)
Giorgio Basso
Carla Mancini
Antonio La Raina ...


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Release Date:

24 April 1974 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Emergency Squad  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

EMERGENCY SQUAD (Stelvio Massi, 1974) ***
20 March 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Though undeniably enjoyable, the popular poliziottesco subgenre - which proliferated in Italy throughout the 1970s - is also frustrating because one can never tell the quality of a specific title until one has watched it himself (this is mainly due to the fact that this type of film has been largely dismissed by the critics, while at the same time turned into a cult by fans): the thing is that a handful of titles definitely merit a critical re-appraisal, while many others are overrated by the aficionados. Personally, during the last few years, I've sampled films which fall in both these categories - but, thankfully, EMERGENCY SQUAD turned out to be one of the best poliziotteschi out there.

Having just watched ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1976), whose narrative was all over the place, it's easy to see how EMERGENCY SQUAD benefits from having a tight, compelling plot line. Besides, I tend to find star Tomas Milian more interesting when playing an anti-hero (as here or in his better Spaghetti Westerns) than an out-and-out villain. The film is clearly inspired by both DIRTY HARRY (1971) - the taciturn, iconoclastic cop hero with a dead spouse - and THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) - the desire for revenge has turned Milian's pursuit of gang boss Gastone Moschin (who, like Fernando Rey in that movie, also hails from Marseilles) into an obsession; curiously enough, the dock finale of this film anticipates the one in FRENCH CONNECTION II [1975]! Moschin (terrific as the anti-hero hood in MILANO CALIBRO 9 [1972]) is a credible villain here, also because the script has atypically made him a victim of tuberculosis.

The supporting cast is led by Stefania Casini, who has fun with her role as a ditzy gangster's moll but isn't really given a lot to do: the actress' above-the-title billing certainly suggests that her character will be more central to the main plot and that, perhaps, she'll become involved with Milian at some point - but they only get to share one scene at the very end! Also featured, among others, are Mario Carotenuto (as Milian's elderly sidekick and conscience) and Ray Lovelock (as one of Moschin's lackeys, though he exits the proceedings rather quickly in one of the film's best scenes).

Director/co-writer Massi's background as a cinematographer is evident in the film's stylish look (even if there's an over-abundance of zoom shots), and equally notable is the inventive editing technique adopted throughout (which shows a definite influence from modern American films

  • the overlapping of shots from successive scenes before a full

transition being borrowed from EASY RIDER [1969], the juxtaposition in slo-mo of Moschin's death with that of Milian's wife at the climax from the work of Sam Peckinpah). Regular genre composer Stelvio Cipriani contributes an excellent and eclectic score, providing several variations on the catchy main theme throughout.

The plot, meanwhile, shows the gang cleverly take up various disguises to accomplish their criminal schemes (dressing up as undertakers, members of a film crew and priests during the course of the film); interestingly, the scene in which they hold a family hostage will be reprised in Milian's subsequent and better-known effort in the genre, ALMOST HUMAN (1974) - where he actually plays the psychotic leader of a gang of crooks. Also, the vulgar humor associated with the genre only makes itself felt in the scenes taking place on the set of an erotic movie and, later, in a hippie commune; in fact, the film's tone is generally quite serious - but this doesn't mean that the hard-boiled dialogue, which so characterizes the poliziotteschi, has been downplayed (thus raising the occasional chuckle, especially among those fluent in Italian).

I watched this via a recording off Italian TV but as the reception wasn't perfect - not to mention the fact that I was surprisingly impressed by the film - I'll have to pick up No Shame's reportedly solid R1 DVD release somewhere down the line...

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