The Giallo was one of the more popular genres in Italy during the early seventies, and as the decade moved on (and Dirty Harry was released), the Polizi flick pushed the Giallo out a little. Mario Caiano's Calling All Police cars is a sort of mixture of the two; for the first half of the film, it plays out like a Polizi flick and then as we move into the final third, the film transforms into a Giallo. Rather than feel like two movies stuck together, however, the film actually does feel like a complete whole and the two blend well with each other. The plot takes obvious influence from Massimo Dallamano's unofficial 'Schoolgirls in Peril' trilogy and puts its focus on corruption inside a school. The film begins by focusing on Fiorella Icardi, the daughter of a rich surgeon. She lies to her parents about where she's going and promptly goes missing. Due to her father's standing in the community, the police mount a big search for the girl; who promptly turns up in the river with a bullet in her brain. Commissioner Fernando Solmi investigates and he is lead to a schoolgirl prostitution ring.
The first two thirds of the film are rather short on action and put more focus on building up the situation and characters as well as showing us some police procedure. It's all very well done and that is thanks mostly to director MMario Caiano who gives the film a great style that suits the film perfectly, as well as pulling great performances from his cast, which includes Antonio Sabato in the lead role. Despite taking obvious influence from Massimo Dallamano's films, this one is not nearly as sleazy and that is down to the fact that we focus more on the police investigation and characters than the actual schoolgirls. This may not please some movie fans; but for me, Calling All Police Cars is a better film for it as the director keeps the focus on things integral to the plot. The film really takes off in the final third when many Giallo themes start being incorporated and we are treated to three murder scenes; the final one of which is particularly bloodthirsty and a scene that the great Dario Argento would be proud of! The mystery itself comes to a satisfying, if not particularly inventive, conclusion at the close and overall; I would not hesitate to recommend this film to fans of Italian thrillers.
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